AT&T confirmed in an disclosure that, the personal information of the customers including; Social Security Numbers, call records were accessed by people outside of the company for unlocking smartphones such as iPhones & other contact-phones.
The disclosure was presented in the court as part of the legal requirement in the state of California in case such incident takes place & affects at least 500 customers. The said breach took place between April 9 & April 21; however, the exact number of affected customers was not disclosed in the filing, which was presented in a case by one of the affected customers.
AT&T said, employees of their service providers violated the company’s strict privacy & security guidelines. The vendors used an unauthorized access to customer information to generate unlock code for smartphones.
Once unlocked, the smartphones get more value in the second-hand market through legitimate channels such as, selling them on eBay or others. Thousands of mobile phones are stolen across the United States every year & these phones are often sold in the international market because; the U.S. carriers would make an effort to block them for use in the country.
No more details were furnished whether the phones made their way to second-hand market or, how many customers’ data was used & for how many times.
The unlock codes for smartphones such as iPhones, Android phones by Samsung & HTC, Windows Phones, BlackBerry can be requested by the customers as per their contract so that, people can use it with any carrier – especially when they’re travelling.
However, the three identified employees of the vendor did not request for an authorization to access customer information nor they’re supposed to get one anyway; because, any such access will grant them the permission to view each & every detail of the phone calls made or received.
Unlock codes for smartphones were then generated by these vendors using Social Security numbers of the customers. The matter is in the court and AT&T declined to provide any additional information regarding this matter.
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