Phone Hacking: A Guide

Friday, July 22, 2011


As the effects from the News of the World phone hacking continue to ripple throughout Britain, many are still wondering how those journalists and private investigators managed to do it.  This may not have been their method, but for WNYC's John Keefe, voicemail hacking was surprisingly (and shockingly) easy.  He tells Brooke all you need is a computer, a phone number, and $10.

Comments [5]

Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Interesting that Stacy could get so long a comment. Titles must help, but my space would've ended long before them.

Our former Police Chief & Mayor "Ben" Dilieto spent months on trial for wiretapping but was "exonerated" by a man, Nick Pastore, of whom Biagio later said to 60 Minutes "()He) has never said a truthful thing in his life!" Of course, Nick was then appointed Police Chief by a new mayor.

Come on! Why such shock over phone hacking when 13-year olds are breaking into multinational corporate files?

Jul. 27 2011 06:12 AM
Francisco from Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

I just want to clarify something, the British system (as I understand it) still asks for that secret ID number but, whatever checks were performed before, Caller ID was added to the list of checks.

Jul. 27 2011 04:52 AM
Francisco from Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

That should read "and I think I've remember it correctly"

Jul. 26 2011 10:58 AM
Francisco from Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

As I understand it, it is harder to get into voicemails in the UK. My memory maybe wrong, but from what I remember of news stories, but I think I've remembered it correctly. Of course, it's still fairly easy.

It does, however, need the cooperation of an employee of the mobile operator. In the UK system, your phone passes on a secret ID number to identify which mailbox you need. After the original phone hacking story broke (I can't remember the exact year), mobile operators introduced a new security check -- they now use Caller ID to confirm identity. Of course, as this article points out, that's not much of a security precaution.

Now, I'm on more shaky ground because I can't remember any news stories about the symptoms. However, I suspect, in the British system, the only symptom is that you'll find messages you've never heard before registered as "saved" or, more likely, you'll notice a missed call from a friend and find "no new messages".

Jul. 26 2011 10:56 AM
Stacy Harris from Nashville

I am most appreciative of John Keefe's calling my attention to the Caller ID Act of 2009. Ironically, since it's passage, I have been the victim of telephone spoofing on an almost daily basis. (I am on the Do Not Call list.)

Because this law is apparently largely unenforced, I thought "there ought to be a law" and, when I kept an appointment with my Congressman Jim Cooper a few months ago to address this very issue, he and the staffers who sat in with us were apparently not aware of the Act either!

I believe the solution to spoofing and hacking lies with the phone companies. None of the regulatory agencies (FCC, FTC) nor elected officials will lift a finger, as they claim it's not their call (no pun intended) and that legislation can't keep pace with technology that continues allows the bad guys to stay one step ahead of, and thus outfox, their victims.

The way this would work is that, when I contact Verizon or one of the other carriers for phone service, there would be an implicit contract that if anyone complains to the phone company about my use of the line for any contact that is annoying, threatening and/or illegal or that otherwise has no legitimate purpose, the phone company then must do an internal investigation and if I am found to be abusing the service, my service is cut off with a notation indicating the nature of my (likely repetitive) behavior that follows me should I seek a new provider.

Should a phone company not agree to self-police, a paper trail having then been established, it would then face FCC fines.

Nothing will be done until consumers demand enforcement of the Act, that this behavior be addressed at the point of origiin and thatt violators (the transgressors and uncooperative issuers of the phone lines used for questionable purpose) be hit in the pocketbook.

Stacy Harris
Publisher/Executive Editor/Media Critic
Stacy's Music Row Report

Jul. 24 2011 03:35 PM

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