After keeping details of the cyber attack quiet for months, national telecommunications staple AT&T has confirmed reports that an unknown number of customers’ Social Security numbers and phone records were compromised as the result of a large data breach the company says occurred between April 9 and April 21. According to a report by watchdog website Fierce Wireless, AT&T says the hackers, who appear to have been employees of one of the company’s third-party vendors, did not look to steal customers’ financial information. Instead, the hackers, according to reports, posed as AT&T customers so they could get codes to unlock the phones that could then be used when sold on the secondary market.
In a letter to affected customers, AT&T said, “Employees of one of our service providers violated our strict privacy and security guidelines by accessing your accounts without authorization. AT&T believes the employees access your account as part of an effort to request codes … to unlock AT&T phones in the secondary mobile phone market.”
According to Fiece Wireless, carriers will sometimes use software to lock phones to their networks, but can unlock them should a subscriber request an “unlock code.” Though an unlocked phone can be moved to another network, the report continues, the phone may not work properly due to “differences in the spectrum bands used by carriers, and the corresponding radios and chipsets they have in their devices.” The hackers reportedly targeted products with codes that would make the stolen phones easier to use outside of the United States because unlocked cell phones are valuable on the secondary market around the world.
No number has been given by AT&T as to how many customers may have been affected by the breach. California law, however, requires companies to disclose such a breach has taken place if at least 500 customers in the state may have been affected.
If you are an AT&T customer and believe your personal information may be at risk as a result of this breach, please contact Morgan & Morgan today for a free, confidential case evaluation. Our attorneys are investigating possible lawsuits against AT&T and need your help to aid in their investigation.