A US federal jury has convicted a New York man of hacking into AT&T servers and stealing email addresses and other personal information of about 120,000 iPad users.
According to US Attorney Paul Fishman, the hacker Andrew Auernheimer, who faces a maximum five years in prison and $500,000 fine, was condemned by a New Jersey jury of conspiracy to access the servers without permission and of identity theft.
Prosecutors affirmed that Auernheimer was member of a group of Internet “trolls”, called Goatse Security, that tries to disrupt online content and services. Daniel Spitler, also associated to this “club”, pleaded guilty to the same charges in June 2011 and is awaiting sentencing.
US government explained that the accused used an "account slurper" that was designed to match email addresses with "integrated circuit card identifiers" for iPad users, and which conducted a "brute force" attack to extract information about those users, who accessed the Internet through AT&T's network.
The stolen data was then provided to the website Gawker, which published an article refering to emails of well-known people, including ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel
Auernheimer' lawyer disagreed with the “prosecutors' interpretation of what constitutes unauthorized access to a computer under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act”, and had decided to appeal the verdict to the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.
The trial lasted about one week, excluding a disruption related to Hurricane Sandy, and jurors deliberated for a couple of hours, the lawyer added.