UPDATED 12:08 EST / JUNE 16 2010

iPad Data Breach Executed by Drug-Addled (Alleged) Anti-Semite

image How horrible is it when your security is so bad, an anti-semitic e-tard raver from the Pacific Northwest is able to find private data on hundreds of thousands of your customers?

That’s the question AT&T and Apple must be asking themselves this morning, as news has broke that the AT&T / iPad data breach was not only worse than previously imagined, but done by some raver found to be in possession of a massive array of party drugs and a penchant for making anti-Semitic remarks.

CNet painted the picture this morning:

A hacker in a group that discovered the AT&T iPad-related flaw was arrested following the execution of an FBI search warrant of his home in Arkansas on Tuesday, authorities told CNET.

Andrew Auernheimer, 24, was being held in Washington County Detention Center in Fayetteville, Ark., according to Lt. Anthony Foster of the Washington County Sheriff’s office in that state. The drugs were found during the execution of the warrant, said Lt. Mike Perryman, of the Fayetteville Police Department. However, Perryman could not say what prompted the warrant.

AT&T had vowed in a letter sent last week to iPad owners to assist in the investigation and prosecution of any illegal activity related to the AT&T Web site breach, but it’s unknown if the FBI warrant was related that statement.

The story behind the story – or at least the one we’re meant to believe, I think – is that Apple and AT&T are being big bad gestapo again, just like they did with Jason Chen from Gizmodo. It’s a story I’d love to buy into. I was pretty vocal in my opposition to Apple in light of the raid on the gadget blogger. I likened Apple’s steering of the case against Jason as a chilling effect to have ramifications on the journalistic investigations on companies like the “Walmarts, Blackwaters, Enrons, and Halliburtons of the world.”

At least one news blog picked up the cues here – TechEye defended journalism and the role of hackers in the ecosystem in a way that were the situation different would have made me proud:

 In a case which mirrors the recent Gizmodo situation, FBI people gained a warrant to search the house of Andrew Auernheimer, 24, who alerted the world to the iPad flaw.

Quite what they were looking for was anyone’s guess. Apple and AT&T were the only one’s who felt that he had not done the world a favour.

The Auernheimer case does cause the hacker community some problems. AT&T, being a telco, is probably not aware of the symbiotic relationship that exists between hackers and the software makers. Hackers who find security flaws report them to the software companies which fix them. The hackers then make a name for themselves reporting the hole they have found. The software makers win because it means that they are seen as fixing security problems and users often have to upgrade. The hackers get an ego stroke and a pat on the back for being jolly clever.

However hackers are going to be less likely to report them sensibly if they know the company is going to report them to the cops who will search their houses looking for evidence of criminal activity.

A "sermon" from Andrew "iProphet" Auernheimer.

However this is the second time in as many months that government funded law enforcement have featured in an Apple related story.  The other time, a journalist’s house was searched because Apple claimed that an iPhone prototype had been stolen, when it was sitting in Apple’s headquarters.

Were this the end of the story, what you’d be reading now wouldn’t be this but another pile-on lambasting Apple for pulling another gestapo move.

As it turns out, though, this isn’t the end of the story. The Jewish Review, an online publication from the area Auernheimer lives, has some very revealing details left out from all the tech press coverage:

Law enforcement authorities reportedly have identified a 21-year-old Vancouver man as the individual who made two threatening telephone calls to Congregation Beth Israel on the night of June 16. The alleged caller, whom authorities described to [the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland] as having “low intelligence and no means to carry out any threats,” reportedly said over the phone, “The Nazis are coming to get you; there will be another Holocaust” and “You killed my Lord. You will pay.”

Prior to police identification of the Vancouver man, Horenstein said in an e-mail alert that law enforcement officials had speculated the caller may have been a 24-year-old Los Angeles man who operates the Web site theiprophet.blip.tv/ (since taken offline) on which Jews have been vilified. Horenstein identified that man as Andrew Auernheimer. In a video that was on Auernheimer’s Web site he said, “I’ve got to skip town. There are some big Jews that want to hand me a summons. …On the 16th (of June) I am taking a pilgrimage northward to Portland.”

imageIt’s important to note that the police will not confirm that this is the same Andrew Auernheimer – they haven’t responded to my requests for comment, nor would it appear that they’re answering anyone else who’s asking about either case.

Of course, that’s not the sum total of what makes this case both hilarious and interesting. Back to the CNet post: “The drugs included cocaine, ecstasy, LSD, and schedule 2 and 3 pharmaceuticals, he said.”

That’s right. This guy didn’t get busted for having a bit of recreational marijuana, which most people in this day and age find socially acceptable (if not for themselves, at least for others), but a myriad of drugs characteristic of the typical raver kid. I’m guessing if you go down the list of items seized, you’d probably find a healthy collection of happy hardcore and trance music as well, assuming they searched his MP3 collection (and if not, why hasn’t the RIAA gotten on that yet?).

So, to re-cap, the guy’s an un-ironic anti-semite who regularly imbibes hallucinogenic substances while listening to mostly awful music described by the local Jewish Community of being stupid. And he just carried out the biggest hack in AT&T and Apple’s recent history.

The lessons in this story are legion. Here’s a few:

1) When a story may be too good to be true, it generally is. Stories like Jason Chen and Kevin Mitnick come around only once in a while. I’d be surprised to see Apple so obviously behind yet another gestapo move like they were in the Gizmodo case, and if I suspected they might be, I’d check, re-check and check again to make sure I’m not getting punk’d.

2) When your security sucks so bad that this guy can break it, you’re in trouble as a company. AT&T isn’t exactly known for being awesome these days. My friend Michael Sean Wright likes to say that in recent months, “the shine has really come off the Apple.”  Nothing takes your company down a few pegs better than when someone who can objectively be described as the dregs of society can bring the company to its knees with a few keystrokes.

3) If you’re a hacker, please hide your drugs after doing something high profile. Also, don’t be racist. I self-identify with the hacker movement in general, since I spent a fair amount of my youth engaging in these sorts of activities (the technological activities, not the Jew-hating, drug-related ones). It goes without saying that this sort of thing makes me hang my head in shame.

[Editor’s Note: Updated the post with Auernheimer’s ‘sermon.’ –mrh]


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