One of the hackers in the group that snatched more than 100,000 iPad owner e-mail addresses from AT&T's servers was arrested Tuesday on felony drug charges after the FBI searched his Arkansas home.
Andrew "Escher" Auernheimer was arrested by Fayetteville, Ark., police and was booked into the Washington County Detention Center Tuesday afternoon, where he is being held on bonds totaling $3,160.
Auernheimer, 24, faces four felony charges of possession of a controlled substance and one misdemeanor drug charge. According to CNET News, which first reported the arrest, police found drugs that included cocaine, ecstasy, LSD, and Schedule 2 and 3 pharmaceuticals when they searched his home.
Auernheimer, who also goes by the hacker nickname "weev," is one of 10 members of Goatse Security, a hacking group that used an automated script to collect 114,000 iPad e-mail addresses from AT&T through a public feature of the carrier's Web site.
Goatse revealed its e-mail harvesting after AT&T closed the hole, then defended its actions as "responsible disclosure" -- the term given to security revelations made public only after a vendor has patched a bug. In a letter to customers apologizing for the e-mail address disclosure, however, AT&T said the group "maliciously exploited" its Web site and promised it would "prosecute violators to the fullest extent of the law."
In an interview with Computerworld last week, Auernheimer argued that Goatse's attack was "ethical" and denied that they did anything illegal. "We love America and did this in the public interest," Auernheimer said at the time.
Wednesday, the Fayetteville Police Department declined to comment on the charges against Auernheimer, instead referring all questions to the FBI.
Special Agent Bryan Travers of the FBI's Newark, N.J., division confirmed that the agency had served a search warrant at Auernheimer's home, but declined to answer any other questions, including whether agents removed computers from Auernheimer's residence. "This remains an open investigation," Travers said in an e-mail.
The FBI launched an investigation into the Goatse attack last week, saying then that it was trying to determine if the group broke any laws.
Another Goatse member, French hacker Sam Hocevar, said he couldn't answer questions about Auernheimer's arrest. "I am not a position to answer your questions, as I too am waiting for factual information," Hocevar said in an e-mail Wednesday.
Auernheimer is no stranger to drugs, according to Brian Krebs, a former reporter for the Washington Post and now the author of the Krebs on Security blog. In 2006, said Krebs, Auernheimer started a talk at a security conference by telling the audience that he was tripping on acid.
He has also regularly posted anti-Semitic statements on his LiveJournal blog, where he has claimed that the FCC is "Jewish-run" and that Jews "have long made a sham of the nobel [sic] prize."
Auernheimer was arrested last March, according to a report by Fayetteville television station KHBS-TV, which noted that city police said he had given them a false name when they responded to a parking complaint.
A court hearing is scheduled for Friday morning in Washington County Circuit Court.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.