Andrew Auernheimer is accused of hacking AT&T and stealing data belonging to 120,000 Apple iPad users. After allegedly tangling with the two corporate giants, he’s looking to cut a deal.
According to Reuters, Auernheimer is in negotiations to plead guilty like his co-defendant did last month.
Let’s be honest, there probably aren’t many lawyers who would enjoy fighting AT&T and Apple in court.
On July 6 Auernheimer was charged with one count of conspiracy to gain unauthorized access to computers and one count of identity theft by a Newark, New Jersey federal grand jury. Daniel Spitler, the co-defendant in the case pled guilty to the same charges on June 23.
On Wednesday an order from U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton put Auernheimer's case on hold, saying "plea negotiations are currently in progress and both the United States and the defendant desire additional time to finalize a plea agreement, which would render trial of this matter unnecessary."
Auernheimer is from Fayetteville, Arkansas, and he’s currently free on bail.
The federal public defender who represents him, Candace Hom, did not return requests for comment. A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman also declined to comment.
Auernheimer and Spitler were both associated with Goatse Security, a collection of "Internet trolls" that attempts to interrupt online content and services, according to prosecutors.
The government said that they both used an "account slurper" last June. It was designed to match email addresses with "integrated circuit card identifiers" for iPad users.
When it was installed, the slurper carried out a "brute force" attack to pull data related to those users, who logged on to the Internet via AT&T's network, the government said.
AT&T work with Apple in the U.S. to deliver wireless access on the iPad. It shut off the feature that led to the email address being compromised, after the hacking.
Spitler might be looking at a 12- to 18-month prison term at his sentencing, which is scheduled for September 28.
The lesson here is, don’t mess with Apple or AT&T’s servers, because you will end up going against the U.S. government in court. That’s pretty close to being an unwinnable battle.