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App maker, not Apple or the FBI, was the source of user data leak

Flickr user Yutaka Tsutano

Turns out the FBI isn't doing some big brother tracking using Apple UDIDs which hacker group Anti-Sec released last week. Florida publisher Blue Toad, which builds digital products for publishers, has told NBC News's Kerry Sanders and Bob Sullivan that the leaked data came from its servers. Following the hack, Blue Toad downloaded the info and compared it to its own database, finding 98 percent correlation. "That's 100 percent confidence level, it's our data," Blue Toad CEO Paul DeHart said. The company sells all sorts of digital things to its 5,000 clients, including custom apps, which help publishers "monetize their digital content." Since these apps go through Blue Toad's servers and since the company develops the apps themselves, they would have had access to the UDIDs, Apple spokeswoman Trudy Mullter explained to NBC. "As an app developer, BlueToad would have access to a user's device information such as UDID, device name and type," she said. 

After both Apple and the FBI denied that the UDIDs came from the bureau, this kind of situation looked like the most likely source of the data. Until Apple announced phasing out the use of UDIDs altogether, many apps used them for push notifications, so it's not unreasonable that Anti-Sec could have gotten millions of these from hacking Blue Toad. It might surprise people that millions of people use the Blue Toad app services, but the company works with thousands of clients to build many apps. DeHart says his services drive 100 million page views each month. Of course, this doesn't exonerate the FBI completely — it's still possible that stolen data made its way onto an FBI laptop, De Hart admits — but it's looking less and likely.

Read more at The Atlantic Wire.

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