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AT&T iPad Security Breach Hacker Sentenced to 41 Months in Prison

Andrew Auernheimer, one of the hackers behind the release of email addresses of 114,000 iPad users back in 2010, has been sentenced to 41 months in prison following his conviction on one count of identity fraud and one count of 'conspiracy to access a computer without authorization'.
In November, Auernheimer was found guilty on one count of identity fraud and one count of conspiracy to access a computer without authorization. Following his release from prison, Auernheimer will be subject to three years of supervised release. Auernheimer and co-defendant Daniel Spitler were also ordered to pay $73,000 in restitution to AT&T. The pre-sentencing report prepared by prosecutors recommended four years in federal prison.
There is quite a bit of consternation among tech commentators about the appropriateness of a sentence of more than three years in prison for accessing AT&T servers without actually entering a password or directly compromising a system.

Instead, Auernheimer and his partner Daniel Spitler (who pled guilty and received a 12-18 month sentence) wrote a script to guess the identifying numbers of the iPad's SIM card and faked out AT&T's website until it returned the email address connected to said SIM cards. The email addresses of thousands of high-profile iPad users were leaked, including private addresses of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, then White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, and ABC News journalist Diane Sawyer.

It appears that Auernheimer's antagonistic attitude and lack of contrition contributed to the lengthy sentence, including running a Reddit Ask Me Anything thread the night before his sentencing where he said he wanted to get elected to Congress because Congressional Immunity would allow him to release hacks on the floor of Congress with no repercussions.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

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21 months ago

Shows how far into the government's pockets these large corporations are. You would likely get less time for burglary or GBH. Heck, some rapists have gotten less time over here :(.


Sounds like you have sympathy for a guy who could wreck peoples' lives via identity theft. I have no sympathy whatsoever for this twerp. While I would love nothing more than to see bureaucratic nannies like Bloomberg and Emanuel taken down a notch, the truth is people like Auernheimer are a huge threat to all of us, and it needs to be demonstrated that identity theft simply can not be tolerated and will be punished harshly.

Personally, I hope during his stay at the Gray Bar Hotel, they completely eliminate any and all access to computer technology so that he can't find ways to continue to invoke havoc on others.
Rating: 23 Votes
21 months ago
Shows how far into the government's pockets these large corporations are. You would likely get less time for burglary or GBH. Heck, some rapists have gotten less time over here :(.
Rating: 20 Votes
21 months ago
hacking email addresses of iPad owners - 41 months of hard prison
destroying people's lives by lying about AAA ratings on junk mortgage securities and plunging this country into a recession we have yet to fully recover from...priceless.

heck, those 2 Ohio teens who raped that 16 yr old girl only got 1 year.

the punishment does not fit the crime. if anything, this guy did AT&T a favor. imagine if it was the Chinese government who hacked the system. they would have exposed A LOT more than just an email list. let's face it - the only reason why the sentence was longer was b/c he happened to expose the email addresses of the rich and powerful elite. if he only exposed regular joe-shmoe's like all of us here we wouldn't even hear about it in the news and minimal effort would be spent on the prosecution. it's like that state-wide manhunt for Christopher Dorner. if cops weren't injured or killed, not even a fraction of the effort would have been spent to look for him. but as soon as cops are involved, they use more resources than otherwise.

look - the guy was in the wrong. hacking and obtaining information that is not your's is stealing. however his theft did not result in anything except inconvenience for these high profile elitists. he did not obtain information that resulted in a security threat, nor did he obtain information that could be used to create a security threat. knowing the email address of Bloomberg doesn't give you the ability to hack him - heck his friends and coworkers have his email address.

this is absolutely ridiculous. no wonder he doesn't give a ***** about the system and said the things that he said. there is no way he will actually serve the full 41 month sentence either. this was just a publicity stunt for the prosecution to show the elitists and the news media that if you inconvenience them you will get the maximum sentence. once the spotlight moves onto the next big thing, this guy will get out very early
Rating: 20 Votes
21 months ago
Hacking is hacking. Whether or not he entered a password or compromised another machine is irrelevant. May this serve as a lesson to all the other hackers that try to do stuff with other people's computers.

This is the cyber version of breaking and entering. You can't just walk into someone's house and have a look around. You can't use the argument that they left the front door open either. You just don't do it.
Rating: 15 Votes
21 months ago
Selling crack to junior high school kids gets you less time.
Rating: 12 Votes
21 months ago
Not only do I like this sentence, but I would like it even more if it were longer. I don't understand the attitude here of some people who think this is no big deal. It IS a big deal.
Rating: 12 Votes
21 months ago
Inmate 1: What are you in for?
Inmate 2: I killed a guy...
Inmate 1: Oh, hey you, what are you in for?
Inmate 3: I robbed a bank.
Inmate 1: Nice. Yo, what are you in for?
Inmate 4: I hacked iPad accounts.
Inmate 1: What's an iPad. Whatever. How much time you doin'?
Inmate 4: almost 4 years.

Inmates 1-3: WTF!?
Rating: 8 Votes
21 months ago
Despite the consternation over the appropriateness of the sentence length, I bet the prosecution wanted to set a precedent in this case to others who may want to try similar things - discouraging them from trying.
Rating: 7 Votes
21 months ago
So he spoofed info to gain access to info otherwise not available. And he acts like an entitled a-hole.

Yeah 41 months should be good for this guy.
Rating: 7 Votes
21 months ago

So being an a hole gets you a longer sentence? Isn't that like revenge from the bench or something?


Judges have always had the ability to take a defendant's sorrow into account. The murderers who say "she deserved it and I'd do it again!" generally get treated harsher than folks who seem legitimately sorry.

Can't say I see anything wrong with that.
Rating: 6 Votes

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