Normally when someone claims big brother is tracking their every move, we'd recommend rolling an aluminum foil deflector beanie to stay one step ahead of 'the man,' but what happens if they were right all along? Like something out of a suspense thriller, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) got caught in possession of millions of Apple device user IDs, and suddenly everyone is playing dumb. Here's what happened.
The hacking organization known as AntiSec posted a million Apple Unique Device Identifies (UDIDs) on Pastebin, claiming that it's a portion of the 12 million IDs it lifted from an F.B.I. laptop. UDIDs, if you're not familiar, are strings of 40 characters specific to Apple devices, like an iPhone or iPad. Why the F.B.I. would be in possession of 12 million of these is anyone's guess, but according to AntiSec, the file containing all those IDs also included personal information, such as full names, addresses, telephone numbers, etc. Scary stuff.
So, is Apple handing over confidential user information to the F.B.I. so that it can track users on a whim? Not according to Apple.
"The F.B.I. has not requested this information from Apple, nor have we provided it to the F.B.I. or any organization," said Natalie Kerris, an Apple spokeswoman, according to The New York Times . "Additionally, with iOS 6, we introduced a new set of A.P.I.’s meant to replace the use of the U.D.I.D. and will soon be banning the use of U.D.I.D."
That's fine and dandy for future iOS devices, but in the here and now, it's scary as hell that the F.B.I. is walking around with 12 million user IDs, information of which it failed to keep safe from hackers. Or did it? In a statement of its own, the F.B.I. said it never had the leaked info to begin with.
"The F.B.I. is aware of published reports alleging that an F.B.I. laptop was compromised and private data regarding Apple UDIDs was exposed. At this time there is no evidence indicating that an F.B.I. laptop was compromised or that the F.B.I. either sought or obtained this data," the F.B.I. said in a statement .
Reiterating its stance, the F.B.I. called the reports "TOTALLY FALSE" on its Twitter account. Is AntiSec simply stirring up trouble, or is something sinister going on? Quite frankly, we don't know what to think, but we're stocking up on tinfoil anyway.