September 10, 2012
With cloud data security under a seemingly endless volley of attacks from hackers and cybercriminals, a recent claim that a laptop belonging to an FBI agent was compromised is hardly a ringing endorsement for Homeland Security.
According to USA Today, AntiSec, a hacktivist collective with links to Anonymous and LulzSec, announced that it had managed to obtain information belonging to 12 million Apple users. The announcement was greeted with a flurry of denials by the FBI. The collective claimed that this treasure trove of personal data was discovered after hackers breached numerous security protocols, revealing iPhone and iPad user IDs.
The Apple IDs, otherwise known as unique device identifiers, are responsible for containing the address of the mobile device owner and other relevant data. They can also be used to provide a user's location and allow targeted advertising campaigns and AntiSec claims that it released this sensitive cloud security information to draw attention to what the organization claims are invasive practices employed by the FBI.
Bureau denies claims
Strangely enough, the FBI has rejected the notion that one of their agents had millions of user IDs on his or her laptop, and that a state-sanctioned Orwellian plan to monitor the movements of Apple users was unlikely.
"At this time, there is no evidence indicating that an FBI laptop was compromised or that the FBI either sought or obtained this data," the bureau said in a statement.
Apple made no comment regarding the announcement from AntiSec, but with cloud adopters and users increasingly concerned about data loss prevention, the claims could have a ring of truth about them. In the last few months, hackers have trained their sights on a number of high-profile targets and federal agencies have been accused of using mobile devices as "a people tracking project."
Data breaches are becoming more common, and although cyber threats that could be a danger to national security should fall under the remit of a federal agency, state representatives have questioned whether personal information can come into this category. Legislation requiring transparency from federal and state officials regarding digital data collection has been floated in front of Congress but, to date, the matter is still very much under discussion.
"Law enforcement must protect their servers and computers that contain any personal data about Americans," said Rep. Ed Markey, D-MA. "This report also raises questions about why the FBI had this information in the first place."
-McAfee Cloud Security