Two men who authorities say were competing to impress their fellow hackers were arrested on federal charges they stole the e-mail addresses of more than 100,000 Apple iPad users, including politicians and media personalities.
The theft and the AT&T security weakness that made it possible were revealed months ago, and U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said there was no evidence the men used the swiped information for criminal purposes.
Daniel Spitler, a bookstore security guard from San Francisco, and Andrew Auernheimer of Fayetteville, Ark., were charged with fraud and conspiracy to access a computer without authorization.
Fishman said the men and their cohorts were engaged in "malicious one-upsmanship" as they sought to impress each other and others online.
According to an AP report, the stolen e-mail addresses, on their own, aren't that valuable; but once they knew a person was an iPad owner and an AT&T customer, cybercriminals and spammers could have sent e-mails that looked like they came from Apple or AT&T, tricking the recipient into opening them.
Those e-mails could, in turn, plant malicious software on the recipient's computer or trick the person into sharing vital private information, such as Social Security or credit card numbers.