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IPad users’ e-mail addresses revealed

AT&T says it fixed problem quickly

The iPad was affected by the security flaw, but not the iPhone. The iPad was affected by the security flaw, but not the iPhone. (Associated Press/File)
By Hiawatha Bray
Globe Staff / June 10, 2010

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A security flaw in AT&T Inc.’s 3G cellular data network has revealed the e-mail addresses of thousands of people who own Apple Inc.’s popular iPad tablet computer. Among those victimized by the breach are White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York, and Janet Robinson, chief executive of The New York Times Co., which owns the Globe.

News of the breach was reported yesterday by Valleywag, an Internet technology website. According to Valleywag, the problem was detected by Goatse Security, an organization of hackers who specialize in ferreting out security weaknesses in popular digital products. Goatse estimated that as many as 114,000 e-mail addresses may have been compromised.

AT&T said it learned of the problem Monday. “This issue was escalated to the highest levels of the company and was corrected by Tuesday; and we have essentially turned off the feature that provided the e-mail addresses,’’ the company said in an e-mail. “We apologize to our customers who were impacted.’’ AT&T also pledged to notify all who may have been affected.

The problem affected only users of the iPad 3G, a version of the tablet device that connects to AT&T’s cellular network to download data from the Internet. A different version of the iPad, which connects only to Wi-Fi hot spots, was not affected. Also, AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel said the problem affected only the iPad. Other devices that connect to AT&T’s data network have not been compromised, Siegel said.

Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Hiawatha Bray can be reached at bray@globe.com.