On The Media Covers Voicemail Security & Spoofing Caller ID

Sunday’s episode of On The Media from WNYC had considerable coverage of the evolving News Of The World story. In addition they had a full segment on the state of voicemail security in the US.

In the segment on voicemail security Executive Producer John Keefe tried one of the common “hacks” on his own cellular service. Using an online service he spoofed his caller ID such that the cellular carrier thought he was calling from his own cell phone number from his own handset, a circumstance where they may not require the use of the voicemail PIN code.

They go on to give an overview of the state of basic voice mail security with some of the major US carriers. Apparently only AT&T and Sprint by default allow caller ID based bypass of the requirement for use of a PIN code.

It’s good to see someone looking beyond the face of the scandal to consider how the cellular carriers blatant disregard for even the simplest matters of security allowed the exploits occur.

News Of The World & “Hacking” Cell Phone Voicemail

The recent blow-up in the UK over the tabloid media accessing people’s cellular voicemail is certainly interesting. Endless media outlets are reporting the crime as “hacking” cell phones or cell phone voice mail. Here are just a few examples:

I find that the use of the term “hacking” in this context rests uneasily with me. In my mind hacking implies that there’s an appreciable skill involved. The most basic of the techniques described I consider to be trivially simple. It requires no particular skill at all, just a little devilishness.

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