Posted on September 10th, 2012
I always enjoy when non-tech reporters write about tech stories and get just enough of the details wrong to make it seem to the average user that the story is true while the story actually perpetuates falsehoods.
Keyy Sanders and Bob Sullivan, at NBC News:
The UDID — which stands for Unique Device Identifier — is present on Apple iPads, iPods and iPhones, and is similar to a serial number. During the past year, researchers have found that many app developers have used the UDID to help keep track of their users, storing the data in various databases and often associating it with other personal information. When matched with other information, the UDID can be used to track users’ app usage, social media usage or location. It could also be used to “push” potentially dangerous applications onto users’ Apple gadgets.
The way this paragraph is written, it would lead the average reader to believe that any of the leaked 12 million UDIDs could be used to push malware onto the respective iOS devices they belong to. This is a blatant lie. In order for something like this to happen, the culprit would have to register 120,000 Apple Developer accounts, paying $99 each for them which would cost a total of $11,880,000. Then someone would have to manually enter each UDID into Apple’s Developer portal. Then and only then would someone have to make some sort of iOS app (that Apple could kill easily by deactivating the offending developer account) and add that app to each of the 120,000 developer accounts they’ve made in order to be able to generate a link or share a file that users would have to drag into their iTunes or use a service like Testflight to receive over the air (most if not all Testflight users are developers themselves.) As you can see, this is a near-impossible scenario.
Yet if you read the quoted paragraph, NBC would like the reader to believe that they are possibly in grave danger of having malware “pushed” to their devices.
The question is – did these two reporters not understand how this works or did they intentionally attempt to mislead their readers to make the story juicier?