NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A man has been convicted of hacking into AT&T’s servers and stealing more than 120,000 e-mail addresses of iPad users – including Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Andrew Auernheimer, formerly of Fayetteville, Ark., was convicted in U.S. District Court in Newark, N.J. He was arrested last year and charged with identity theft and conspiracy to gain unauthorized access to computers.
Each count carries a maximum prison sentence of five years.
Prosecutors said at the time that there was no evidence that the two men used the information they acquired for criminal purposes. Authorities cautioned, however, that the information could have wound up in the hands of spammers and scammers.
U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman last year characterized the men and their cohorts as engaging in “malicious one-upsmanship” as they sought to impress each other and others in the online community.
“Aurenheimer and Spitler treated the criminal theft of confidential information as a joke, literally bragging about it to increase their notoriety and prestige. But there is nothing funny about the consequences of illegal computer hacking,” Fishman told CBS 2’s Christine Sloan last year.
Auernhemier and Spitler’s online group, Goatse Security, tricked AT&T’s Web site into divulging e-mail addresses for Bloomberg, then-White House Chief of Staff and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and movie producer Harvey Weinstein, among others.
The group then shared the addresses with the website Gawker.
The criminal complaint against Spitler and Auernheimer detailed online conversations in which the duo’s peers discuss selling the addresses to spammers.
“You could put them in a database for spamming for example sell them to spammers …” a user named Nstyr wrote to Spitler, the complaint alleges.
An affidavit also claimed Auernheimer bragged about the operation in a blog posting on June 9, 2010, and an interview with CNET published online the following day, but later backtracked from those statements. It quoted him from a New York Times article declaring, “I hack, I ruin, I make piles of money. I make people afraid for their lives.”
Spitler pleaded guilty last year.
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