Sloppy Journalism Report

Here’s me going all Ben Goldacre on you. Today’s Guardian has a report (under the byline of Charles Arthur who is apparently their Technology Editor) that yells “Security leak leaves US Apple iPad owners at risk”. What does it leave them at risk of? Being sent spam. Because all that has actually happened is that AT&T’s servers have been hacked and the email addresses of iPad 3G owners harvested. Nevertheless, Arthur does his best to convince his readers that it is the iPad itself that was targeted:

The news that the 3G version could have been liable to hacking could depress sales of the more profitable version.

The editor in me is coming out in hives over “liable to hacking”, but that’s a minor problem compared to what Arthur is erroneously suggesting here. For a comparison with a responsible and knowledgeable report, here’s Mashable, whose piece also correctly describes the issue as a “security breach” rather than a “security leak”, which suggests an insider job.

Of course there are potential knock-on issues here, as the web addresses that have been harvested could have been used as user names in all sorts of places, but a hacker wanting to make use of this would still need to crack passwords.