FBI collects Apple IDs from millions of devices, Anonymous alleges

Anonymous says it obtained 1 million Apple IDs from the computer of an FBI security specialist. Assuming the story is true, why would the government hold on to these Apple IDs?

A protester wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, symbolic of the hacktivist group Anonymous, takes part in a street protest in France.

Hackers affiliated with Anonymous have released 1 million Apple Unique Device Identifiers, or UDIDs – a kind of digital serial number for iPhones and iPads. In a statement posted to Pastebin, Anonymous claimed the UDIDs had been culled from a larger database of 12 million device IDs stored on the laptop of an FBI cybersecurity agent. The message, according to Anonymous: The FBI is keeping tabs on Apple users. 

"People are frustrated, they feel the system manipulating them more than ever," Anonymous reps wrote. "Never underestimate the power of frustrated people. For the last few years we have broke into systems belonging to Governments and Big corporations just to find out they are spending millions of tax dollars to spy on their citizens. They work to discredit dissenting voices." 

So is the whole thing for real? Well, it's unclear. The FBI are remaining mum, as is Apple. But in a message on Twitter (hat tip to Gawker), CSIS security specialist Peter Kruse said he had found info from three of his devices in the leaked data. "Today's big question: what did #Apple specific data do on a #FBI agents laptop and how did it get there? What was it used for?" Kruse wrote

Over at Forbes, Andy Greenberg has decrypted the file released by Anonymous. Although "there’s no easy way to confirm the authenticity or the source of the released data," Greenberg admits, "it does seem to be an enormous list of 40-character strings made up of numbers and the letters A through F, just like Apple UDIDs. Each string is accompanied by a longer collection of characters that Anonymous says is an Apple Push Notification token." 

The full report from Greenberg is here. More when we know it. In the meantime, to check if your device is on the Anonymous list, check out this tool, which was built by the team at The Next Web. And to keep up on how technology intersects daily life, follow us on Twitter @venturenaut.

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