The unsophisticated hack

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his son James testified Tuesday before a committee of the British parliament responsible for investigating the News of the World phone hacking scandal.

The technical savvy needed to pull off a News of the World-style phone hack is nil.

Public media college John Keef at WNYC was able to hack (with their permission) cell phone voice mail of his co-workers. He says we was able to access messages on AT&T and Sprint phones. Keef’s attempts to hack Verizon and T-Mobile accounts were unsuccessful.

How easy is it? It’s so easy that even Paris Hilton can be accused of doing it.

To do the hack, one simply needs to mask their caller ID to display the number they are calling with a service like SpoofCard. The voice mail behaves as if the call is coming from that phone.

The easiest and most reliable defense is requiring a password be entered every time you check voice mail. Keef has more:

But quick access to your messages is pretty convenient. Our in-office experiments suggest another way to help protect yourself is to delete (not just skip) messages you’ve already heard. That way there’s nothing to listen to.

And here’s a big red flag: A missed call that looks like it’s from your own phone number. That was a byproduct of the trick we used — and a clear sign of our “hacking.” (WNYC)

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