When “Hacking” is too strong a word.
Don’t for a minute think the hacking procedure is an elaborate thing. “Hacking” makes you think of a Bletchley styled operation: a technical and deliberate science. Sorry to disappoint you. It is far simpler than that.
A few years back when you signed up for a mobile phone number your voicemail came with a default pin code. You weren’t asked to change it before use and you weren’t explained why you needed to change it and the risk of not changing it. I *think* this has now changed (I really do hope it has). Even today, you probably rarely use the pin code because when you dial into your voicemail from your phone you are authenticated by your mobile number (assuming you haven’t blocked your caller ID).
But did you know that you can access your mobile phone’s voicemail from any landline too? See the footer of this post for the numbers to dial. All you have to do is enter you mobile phone number and your pin. That’s the first big fail on the part of the networks – they have failed to educate people about how voicemail works. They have failed to protect their customers. What’s worse is that unless you change your pin, it remains set to a default four zeros, or 1234 etc depending on the network.
If the mobile operators forced their customers to set their own private PIN (most now do)- none of this scandal would have happened. But if you’ve had your mobile for years there is still a good chance you run the risk of a default pin number. The mobile operators have done nothing to help you tighten up the security. I think the onus is on them.
Would you trust your bank if it mailed out your debit card with a default pin number on it and expected you to change it?
So why did the mobile phone operators get away with it? They haven’t been asked to account for the blatant breach in protecting their customers’ privacy. If they had prioritised security and education none of this invasion would have taken place. It was just too simple and too tempting for the “scum-of-the-world” reporters to resist.
Whilst there’s no defence to invading anyone’s privacy, I hold the Mobile operators jointly and severally liable for this diabolical mess.
Vodafone UK – 07836 121 121
O2 – 07569 149 187
Orange 07973 100 123
and if I haven’t listed your operator above simply Google “Accessing my XXX voicemail from a landline” and replace XXX with your operator.