Federal authorities are investigating an AT&T (T) security breach which resulted in the leak of 114,000 email addresses belonging Apple (AAPL) iPad owners this week. The breach came to light after a cyber security firm successfully obtained the email addresses from AT&T's website and sent the list to gossip website Gawker.
On Thursday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said it had opened a probe into the incident, in which hundreds of "A-List" email addresses at high profile companies and government agencies were disclosed, including those of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Gawker reported.
The episode is the latest high-profile privacy incident involving a major technology company. In recent months both Google (GOOG) and Facebook have found themselves at the center of privacy storms. The iPad incident highlights the ease with which hackers can gain access to user data.
"The FBI is aware of the possible computer intrusion and has opened an investigation to address the potential cyber-threat," an FBI spokesperson told Investor's Business Daily. A Bureau spokesperson gave a similar comment to The Wall Street Journal.
A cyber security firm called Goatse Security originally discovered the breach, and after contacting major news organizations with no success, sent the data to Gawker.
Although the breach disclosed email addresses, and not truly sensitive information like Social Security or credit card numbers, the incident represents an embarrassment for both AT&T and Apple, at a time of intense public focus on Internet privacy.
FCC Also Concerned
Meanwhile, a Federal Communications Commission official issued a statement expressing concern about the breach.
"This breach underscores the need for robust cyber security," FCC Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Chief Jamie Barnett said in a statement cited by National Journal. "The FCC's cyber security mission is to ensure that broadband networks are safe and secure for the consumers and businesses that depend on them."
"There is no evidence that any other customer information was shared," AT&T said in a statement. "We take customer privacy very seriously, and while we have fixed this problem, we apologize to our customers who were impacted."
The company said it fixed the security hole on Tuesday.
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