HOUSTON—The FBI has disputed a hacker group’s claim that it stole personal identification data on millions of Apple device owners from an agent’s laptop.
Officials in Washington, D.C. said Tuesday the bureau never possessed the information to begin with.
The denial was made after a hacker with ties to Anonymous and AntiSec released a Web link to a database of more than 1 million unique identification numbers for Apple devices, which could include iPhones and iPads. AntiSec said the data is just a piece of the more than 12 million unique identification numbers and personal information on the device owners that it got from a laptop used by an FBI agent.
Like most electronics makers, Apple assigns unique device identification numbers (UDIDs) — a string of numbers and letters — to all of its devices. The numbers let iTunes and application developers know which device is running which apps. As an example, the numbers allow game developers to keep track of users’ high scores.
Besides the identification numbers, the information posted by AntiSec has the name that a person chooses to name their device and a description of whether the device is an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.
If linked with other information such as a name or address, the numbers could be used as a way to get at other more sensitive data. But knowing the number doesn’t enable the FBI to track or eavesdrop on people.
Apple did not respond to an Associated Press request for comment on Tuesday. Most likely because the company was too busy prepping for its recently announced September 12 press conference. Next Wednesday the company is expected to unveil its latest device, the iPhone 5.
Apple made the announcement about the press conference just hours after the FBI hacking story broke Tuesday morning.