Tuesday 4 September 2012

FBI is tracking tracking data

They’re after me. The government. They have spies everywhere! Oh God, there’s no escape!

Ok, we’re not actually that paranoid or dramatic here at SumRando. But we do like to keep an eye on those who are watching us. And, if a collaboration hacking group is to be believed, the FBI has a pretty serious interest in our mobile devices.

The hacking group, called AntiSec (a collaboration project involving Anonymous and LulzSec) claims to have pulled over 12 million Apple unique device identifiers (UDIDs) from a compromised FBI laptop. The hack was made public on Monday when just over a million of the UDIDs were posted in a document on Pastebin.

UDIDs are numbers used specifically by iOS devices (Apple devices that use the iOS mobile operating system). The numbers were used as a means for developers and mobile advertising networks to track user behavior.

Yes, the FBI was tracking information that was already used to track our activity.

Holy violation of privacy, Batman!

Fortunately, Apple is already in the process of phasing out UDIDs after it was discovered that the tracking information was being sold to third parties without proper authorization. Unfortunately, Apple is looking for a system to continue tracking users. AntiSec said that this phase-out partially motivated the leak.

“Also we think it's the right moment to release this knowing that Apple is looking for alternatives for those UDID currently and since a while blocked axx to it, but well, in this case it's too late for those concerned owners on the list. we always thought it was a really bad idea. that hardware coded IDs for devices concept should be erradicated from any device on the market in the future.”

The major takeaway here is that your online activity is of serious interest not only to companies like Apple that develop and manufacture the products we use, but also to third parties – not excluding your own government.

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