Hackers! FBI! iPhones! Oh my...
Media outlets have been breathlessly reporting during the last day or so about hackers who have published data from iPhones and iPads that are owned by consumers. So it's understandable if you're a bit freaked. After all, a new study states that Americans are showing concern about the amount of personal information they share through their devices.
So should you be worried about the stuff that was published as a result of the latest hack?
Here's a breakdown of the news so far that may answer some of your questions:
1. Hackers have not published your Apple login or password. In an Internet post claiming responsibility, hackers say they have published technical information typically used by Apple and app developers for more than 1 million Apple devices.
2. They have published other technical data, including UDIDs. The published information includes Unique Device Identifiers, Apple Push Notification Service DevTokens, device names and device types. The Unique Device Identifiers (or UDIDs) have been cited specifically in many news reports.
Lifehacker explains UDIDs this way:
The UDID means nothing on its own. Think of it like a driver's license number without any other info. However, when it's put into a database it can be used to track app statistics. This tracking data is the crux of how ad networks work. A number of ad services (usually used for free apps) track the data and other apps you have installed on your iPhone based on your UDID and they use that data to target ads. Your number can be stored in a database and the database cross references the other apps you have installed. For instance, if you have a particular game installed, a shopping app, and a few newspaper apps, ad companies can extract a general idea of you from a marketing perspective.
You can find your UDID by connecting your device to your computer and opening iTunes. Then select your iPhone or iPad under devices in the iTunes sidebar. You'll now see an image of your device, along with the capacity, software version and serial number. Click the serial number and your UDID will appear.
If none of that made sense, you can also learn how to find your UDID from this tutorial.
You can then check to see if your UDID was among those released by the hackers on thenextweb.com.
"In fact, Apple used to permit apps to spew UDIDs all over the place, so there’s a lot of UDID data already in the public domain. For a while, there were a lot of apps using UDID and personal data to track users activity and selling it to advertisers.”
4. However, the hackers say they have more than just technical information for 1 million devices.They say they have information for 12 million devices that includes some combination of owner names, cell numbers, addresses and zip codes. While the hackers did not say what they plan to do with the personal information, they did say the data they released was enough to make their point. A point which stems from this...
5. The hackers claim the information was taken from a file in a desktop folder on a laptop used by an FBI agent. The hackers say they're wondering why the FBI had the file and if the bureau was using it to track owners of Apple devices.
6. The FBI denies that the information was taken from a bureau laptop or that it had the Apple device information.
Statement soon on reports that one of our laptops with personal info was hacked. We never had info in question. Bottom Line: TOTALLY FALSE
— FBI PressOffice (@FBIPressOffice) September 4, 2012
7. Apple denies giving the information to the FBI.
Stay tuned... on your Apple device or not...