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Kevin Mitnick shows how easy it is to hack a phone

British tabloid News of the World said today it is closing down over a phone hacking scandal in which workers for the Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper allegedly snooped on voice mail messages left on the mobile phones of murder victims, as well as celebrities, politicians, and the British royal family.

If unethical journalists can do it chances are anyone can, right?

To test my theory I called up Kevin Mitnick, who wrote about the hacking and social engineering that landed him in jail in a fascinating book coming out this summer, "Ghost in the Wires," and who serves as a security consultant, helping clients prevent against privacy breaches such as this.

Phone hacking, also known as "phreaking," is easy to do, Mitnick said, adding that he could demonstrate it on my phone if I wanted proof. So I gave him permission to access my voice mail and told him my mobile phone number.

He called me right back on a conference call so I could hear what was going on. First he dialed a number to a system he uses for such demonstration purposes and entered a PIN. Then he was prompted to enter the area code and phone number that he wanted to call (mine) and the number he wanted to be identified as calling from (again mine). Next thing I know I'm listening to a voice message a friend of mine left me last night that I hadn't erased.

"See how easy it is?!" Mitnick says as my jaw drops.

More @ C|Net


Jul 08 2011 07:39 AM
They went over this on TV as well. Basically you call a phone twice (almost at once) and while the first call is busy the second one goes to voicemail. But that's not the phreak involved, its the same story about people re-using passwords for their internet accounts. Its the belief that most people do not change away from the 0000 or 1234 default passwords that are set on their phones or voicemail accounts.