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Murdoch Paper Reporters Eavesdropped On Celebrities' Voicemail

timothy posted about 5 years ago | from the have-a-whole-room-in-the-at&t-building-too dept.

The Media 186

Michael_Curator writes "Executives at Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.-owned papers (including current Tory spokesman Andy Coulson) allowed reporters to hack into phone conversations of celebrities and then paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover it up. How did famously technologically-challenged reporters manage the feat without BT catching on? Voicemail." The New York Times says a preliminary investigation's been ordered, but the BBC's coverage indicates that a large-scale inquiry is unlikely.

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186 comments

Linux killed my mom and dad and kicked my dog (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28639479)

Linux just isn't ready for the desktop yet. It may be ready for the web servers that you nerds use to distribute your TRON fanzines and personal Dungeons and Dragons web-sights across the world wide web, but the average computer user isn't going to spend months learning how to use a CLI and then hours compiling packages so that they can get a workable graphic interface to check their mail with, especially not when they already have a Windows machine that does its job perfectly well and is backed by a major corporation, as opposed to Linux which is only supported by a few unemployed nerds living in their mother's basement somewhere. The last thing I want is a level 5 dwarf (haha) providing me my OS.

Re:Linux killed my mom and dad and kicked my dog (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28639851)

I'm a level 6 dwarf, you insensitive clod! If you listened to my voicemail you'd already know this!

Surprised? (1)

Gerafix (1028986) | about 5 years ago | (#28639497)

The media will do anything and everything to get a "story" from "celebrities." It is amazing though how much money they spend on such frivolous things, I guess it rakes in the revenue though.

Re:Surprised? (2, Interesting)

Hijacked Public (999535) | about 5 years ago | (#28639689)

Guess what the intended market for this [bhphotovideo.com] is.....and that is the used price.

Re:Surprised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28639887)

I'm a little uninformed, but that looks a lot like what you see on the sidelines at sports games. Obviously, not something like basketball but soccer or football.

Re:Surprised? (1)

Gerafix (1028986) | about 5 years ago | (#28640125)

Not quite, you would definitely be able to tell if that lens was on the field as it would be like CowboyNeal attached to a tripod.

Re:Surprised? (4, Interesting)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 5 years ago | (#28640171)

Sports photographers, even for Soccer, use a 300mm to 400mm lens at most. A 1200mm lens would only be effective at taking pictures of things half a mile away or more (depending on the size of the thing, of course). The minimum focus distance for that bad boy is 46 feet, practical only if you're the poor photographer who is deprived of a sideline pass and are forced to take pictures from the nosebleeds. But then again, why would you spend $90,000 (the actual MSRP) on one if you were?

Re:Surprised? (1)

The_K4 (627653) | about 5 years ago | (#28640333)

Or you are the photographer who is behind one endzone and is taking pictures of the players in the OTHER endzone. You might also be the photographer behind the center field wall and trying to get a good close-up of the batter that's usually also about 100 yards. These lens are often used in photography at pro-sporting events. The 46-foot focus on that is really not that far when you consider this distances involved in some sports. Yes, they are also used by paparazzi and stalkers. See here http://www.southcreekglobal.com/employment.php [southcreekglobal.com] for some examples.

Re:Surprised? (2)

beckett (27524) | about 5 years ago | (#28641175)

why would you spend $90,000 (the actual MSRP) on one if you were?

because those 1200mm, $90,000 lenses are all hand made by Canon. Sports Illustrated owns one, for example. If you do any wildlife photography it's pretty damn hard to get close to many animal in their natural habitat. it's not too hard to see how 1200mm [juzaphoto.com] focal length has uses. Like most other lenses, there's a niche in which it thrives in, and it just doesn't happen to be in the small, man-made stadiums you're used to.

I doubt the lens that has held the "Longest Prime" title for over 15 years was designed specifically for paps. people without $90,000 could get passable 1200mm action with a sighting scope, ring adaptors and some multipliers (probably f/11). No need for a paparazzi to plunk down almost a hundred thousand if tabloids are printing iphone photos.

Re:Surprised? (1)

Gerafix (1028986) | about 5 years ago | (#28640033)

Giving gear-heads a hard on? I wouldn't call a lens of that significance frivolous, as I would love to have one... Although the Sigma 400-1000mm F5.6 is a whole lot more affordable... relatively anyway. It even comes in a nice almost Slashdot green too. http://www.sigmaphoto.com/lenses/lenses_all_details.asp?id=3349&navigator=3 [sigmaphoto.com] Plus it has f2.8 at the low end which is impressive.

Re:Surprised? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28639915)

Celebrity 1: "Hey dude"
Celebrity 2: "Hey dude"
Celebrity 1: "What's up?"
Celebrity 2: "Nothing"
Celebrity 1: "Wanna party?"
Celebrity 2: "That would be totally awesome"
Celebrity 1: "OK, see ya soon. Save Tibet and all that shit."
Celebrity 2: "And the whales too man."

Re:Surprised? (0)

mcgrew (92797) | about 5 years ago | (#28640335)

That's because they're corporate media and it serves their interest to keep your mind off of important issues.

They will get away with this. (4, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 5 years ago | (#28640971)

Not only that, they will get away with it too.

A police inquiry has already been ruled out. The Crown Prosecution Service "review", will amount to just that. Any parliamentary inquiry will likely be muted, and satisfied with only the resignation of the Tory's PR man Andy Coulson (Former News of the World Editor) as a tit for tat retribution for the resignation of Labor's PR man Damian McBride. Those bugged will be paid off(some already have been) with settlements that will hardly dint Rupert Murdoch's News International's $21 billion chest. The press complaints commission is the industry's "self regulation" body, paid for by the newspapers themselves.

They will get away with this.

This skullduggery that News International paid private investigators to carry out; hacking, wire fraud, misrepresentation, etc, has been going on for at least a decade. One of the victims mentioned, Charlotte Coleman's, died in 2001 when they paid for someone to obtain a list of friends and family from her parents phone. Victims include TV celebrities, Royal family members, CEOs and members of parliament. These people paid someone to put a camera in a room where Max Mosley(67) was having sex. They printed some of it next to the regular outrages they print every single day. There is absolutely no limit to what these people will do.

They will get away with this.

The culture that brought this about is worst at the News of the World newsroom, but it is by no means confined to that place. It's pervasive throughout Murdoch's publications, and probably beyond. News International papers, the Mirror, the Daily Mail, the Observer, the list goes on. Steve Whittamore's(the private investigator) papers show over 13,000 from over 300 journalists. And this is all from only one such man. Who knows how many other investigators exist, an industrialized cottage industry for illegal snooping.

They will get away with this. The culture runs too deep, and is too established. Too many newspapers are in on it. Too many people have too much dirt and are all too ready to print it if anyone tries to reign in a media that has grown so grossly over-mighty. Nothing is sacred, no one is safe, and no one can defend themselves from the hounds that the moguls can set upon them. What chance does anyone have if CEOs and MPs phones are being tapped?

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you, Your Fourth Estate.

Allegedly. (3, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 5 years ago | (#28639503)

One newspaper alleges that another did this. Why does the summary state, without qualification, that it occurred?

Re:Allegedly. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28639547)

Oh, I know, I know. (raises hand)

Is it because slashdot is so fair and balanced?

Re:Allegedly. (5, Interesting)

chrb (1083577) | about 5 years ago | (#28640909)

Or maybe it's because an editor and a private investigator have already been jailed for their part in the hacking?

Or maybe because News International has already paid out over £1 million to settle court cases brought by some of the people they listened in on, on the condition that they can't say anything about the case or settlement to anybody else, ever? And News International has not denied any of the allegations?

The fact that a single, unelected individual can become as powerful as Murdoch is worrying in this day and age. After Tony Blair flew out to Australia to breakfast with Murdoch, the British tabloids switched overnight and Blair won the next election. According to the Independent, Murdoch is "so powerful that no politician dare take him on." [independent.co.uk] According to Business Week:

"his satellites deliver TV programs in five continents, all but dominating Britain, Italy, and wide swaths of Asia and the Middle East. He publishes 175
newspapers, including the New York Post and The Times of London. In the U.S., he owns the Twentieth Century Fox Studio, Fox Network, and 35 TV stations that reach more than 40% of the country...His cable channels include fast-growing Fox News, and 19 regional sports channels. In all, as many as one in five American homes at any given time will be tuned into a show News Corp. either produced or delivered."

So Murdoch owns many of the most influential TV stations and newspapers in the UK and US, and yet he pays almost no tax, [bbc.co.uk] only 6% [bbc.co.uk] . Murdoch even had a special tax credit for himself written into a US bill during the Clinton era [independent.co.uk] . In the UK it was revealed that News International pays only 1.2% tax, and the governing Labour party refused to say anything on the issue. [independent.co.uk]

It is worrying that, in a democratic society, any single individual can influence public opinion so convincingly that even the governing left-leaning politicians, who would be his traditional enemies, must do underhand deals in order to gain his support and stay in power.

Re:Allegedly. (1)

chrb (1083577) | about 5 years ago | (#28641273)

Oh, and did I mention that Murdoch stopped broadcasting BBC News, which relied on a Newscorp satellite in China, because they refused to take part in the Tiananmen Square cover-up? [independent.co.uk]

And how come it's taken almost 20 years of monopolisation of the UK pay-TV market before any government organisation has said anything? (Ofcom just announced results of its investigation [ofcom.org.uk] )

Re:Allegedly. (5, Funny)

SomeJoel (1061138) | about 5 years ago | (#28639595)

Would it make a difference if they had said "allegedly"? People always assume that those accused are guilty. Look at COPS on TV. They have a disclaimer that says "all suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law" but the content of the show clearly implies that everyone is guilty. Disclaimers are so common and superfluous* that nobody pays attention to them anymore.

*: Not all disclaimers are superfluous

Re:Allegedly. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28639657)

If you don't know the difference in legal status of one who is accused and one who is convicted, that's your problem: don't impose the same weakness on me. Lrn2Law, n00b.

Re:Allegedly. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28640263)

Would it make a difference if they had said "allegedly"? People always assume that those accused are guilty.

That is because most of the time, that is true. Generally speaking, in civilized countries, most of the time, police don't arrest someone unless they have good evidence they committed the crime. And the reason you have good evidence they committed the crime is because they ACTUALLY DID COMMIT THE CRIME.

You wouldn't want to live in a country if most of the people arrested by the police are actually innocent.

Of course, there have been many, many cases of police error, misconduct and sloppiness leading to innocent people being arrested & convicted. But most of the time people are arrested because they are guilty.

Re:Allegedly. (2, Insightful)

cawpin (875453) | about 5 years ago | (#28640559)

but the content of the show clearly implies that everyone is guilty.

No, the content of the show is evidence that most, not all, are guilty of at least one crime...evading police or resisting arrest. When you're getting arrested and you fight with the police you're committing a crime regardless if you committed the one they were arresting you for.

Re:Allegedly. (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | about 5 years ago | (#28640663)

Well, I don't know how it is in third world countries. But here in Germany, if you leave the "allegedly" away, even in the headline of a tabloid newspaper, you will get sued and your business may get closed down if you do not immediately rectify the statement.

Re:Allegedly. (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 5 years ago | (#28640973)

I have to ask: Is your disclaimer that "Not all disclaimers are superfluous" superfluous?

Re:Allegedly. (0, Troll)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | about 5 years ago | (#28640879)

One newspaper alleges that another did this. Why does the summary state, without qualification, that it occurred?

That's right! You can't trust the MSM gotcha media! A newspaper putting its reputation on the line isn't enough. After all, they do things like break into people's voice-mail! They're all crooked!

Police: No new enquiry (3, Informative)

gigne (990887) | about 5 years ago | (#28639509)

Police say no new evidence means no enquiry.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8143120.stm [bbc.co.uk]

One to keep a critical eye on

Re:Police: No new enquiry (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 5 years ago | (#28641047)

There's no new evidence because the police have been sitting on it all since 2005.

A mountain of gossip and scandal has been illegally amassed for over 10 years by these people. CEOs, MPs and even the royal family have been bugged. Do you honestly think that Police commissioners have escaped with their secrets intact?

FTFA - default passwords (4, Informative)

guruevi (827432) | about 5 years ago | (#28639521)

It's not eavesdropping on full conversations - apparently they listened into some people's voicemail accounts by dialing the voicemail and then using default pin codes (eg. 0000 or 1234) to listen to the conversations.

There is not much you can do about it short of either changing your password or disabling voicemail or the carriers could inconvenience their customers by not allowing voicemail from other phone numbers (if that is at all possible)

Re:FTFA - default passwords (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28639735)

I see you left your window open, so I helped myself to the interior of your home.

More like... (3, Interesting)

denzacar (181829) | about 5 years ago | (#28640051)

I see you left your window open, so I used my sound recording device to make some recordings of your conversations and daily routine.

Illegal on my part, but completely your fault for allowing to happen. Your phone operator is free and clear.

Re:More like... (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 5 years ago | (#28641077)

If those sounds go outside my window and you record them, then so be it. Legality will vary from state to state.

If the phone operator made it reasonably clear on how to change the codes, then yeah, it's not their fault.

Re:FTFA - default passwords (3, Insightful)

Itninja (937614) | about 5 years ago | (#28640133)

Not really a valid analogy since the voicemail messages are not being stolen, per se, just observed (or in this case listened to). I think a better one would be 'I see you left your door unlocked so I let myself in and read your diary'. Still not good, but also not theft.

Re:FTFA - default passwords (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28640497)

Or I see you left your window open, so I took pix of you getting dressed/undressed.

Re:FTFA - default passwords (5, Funny)

Digestromath (1190577) | about 5 years ago | (#28640587)

So we all agree it isn't theft. Its obviously copyright infringement! The penalties in the US would mark it as 100,000$ per voicemail track downloaded.

Re:FTFA - default passwords (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | about 5 years ago | (#28639835)

Yup, pretty boring actually. Furthermore, all you've got to do is set a PIN number and this won't work anymore.

Re:FTFA - default passwords (1)

babyrat (314371) | about 5 years ago | (#28640177)

PIN number

You mean a personal information number number?

Must be from the Department of Redundancy Department.

Re:FTFA - default passwords (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | about 5 years ago | (#28640475)

Yeah, sort of... like the ACT test, WWW web sites, HTML language, FTP protocol (I could go on...)

Re:FTFA - default passwords (1)

mrsurb (1484303) | about 5 years ago | (#28641097)

Yeah, PIN number, like you punch into an ATM machine when it tells you to on the LCD display.

Re:FTFA - default passwords (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28639855)

Or the carriers could not allow voicemail from other phone numbers until the default password has been changed, which would solve the issue without causing all that much inconvenience to the customer.

Re:FTFA - default passwords (3, Interesting)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 5 years ago | (#28639873)

So why didn't the police notify the general public that reporters were using this trick, and advise all cell phone users to set their PINs properly? I mean, aren't the police there to "protect and serve?"

Or, are the police using this trick, as well, and didn't want to go public with a method that they are using to snoop on people, without any tap warrant?

Re:FTFA - default passwords (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | about 5 years ago | (#28640129)

The police use their own voicemail password. In North America, it's usually 7782.

Re:FTFA - default passwords (3, Informative)

rvw (755107) | about 5 years ago | (#28641093)

The police use their own voicemail password. In North America, it's usually 7782.

I don't care about North American police. We here on slashdot use 1337!

Re:FTFA - default passwords (5, Interesting)

DigitAl56K (805623) | about 5 years ago | (#28639937)

The carriers voicemail system should do four things:

1.When you first get a phone, auto-dial you once a day during business hours and prompt you to set a PIN until you do so

2.Do not allow you to retrieve any queued voice mail until a PIN has been set, require that PINs can only be set from the number they are attached to (without the aid of customer service)

3. Require PIN entry when dialed from other numbers. When you enter your PIN successfully it should say, "Thanks! You last logged in x ago", and if appropriate "Since then there have been x unsuccesful attempts to log in".

4. If too many bad PINs are entered by default lock voicemail and redirect to customer service.

Items #1&2 are a one time inconvenience when you get a new phone number. #3 adds 5 seconds to your call only when you use a different phone to check your voicemail. #4 just makes sense, and in the case that someone is getting DOS'd there could be a flag on the account customer service could set to use longer PINs that don't auto-lock.

I don't buy into the "there is not much you can do about it line" since by this time anyone competent enough to design a voice-mail system for use by a large carrier ought to have enough experience with computers to understand fundamental guidelines for basic security. I came up with the above list in under 30 seconds.

Re:FTFA - default passwords (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | about 5 years ago | (#28640295)

There are three other things, two of which I've had done for ATM cards.

First, based on the how voicemail works, you need a PIN only when calling from a different number. This feature could be off by default, and require you to call in and activate it. This is based on the way computers allow remote users (off by default).

When you acquire a phone, it could force you to type a PIN into a pad (taken from how some ATM card distributors work).

Lastly, mail a randomly selected PIN to a customer.

Re:FTFA - default passwords (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28640323)

Oh...come on...#1 and #2 are absurd.
If you want to protect your voice mail, go ahead keep changing your PIN every hour...don't make everyone do that.
If I found out that others are listening to my voice mail, I'd be happy that at least one person is interested in my life.

Re:FTFA - default passwords (2, Interesting)

Locke2005 (849178) | about 5 years ago | (#28640627)

While I agree with points 1, 2, and 3, as you point out, locking accounts after X number of invalid PIN/password attempts leads to a very well known DoS attack. Best to just disable access for an hour or less after 3 bad PINs; requiring customer service intervention for something that happens all the time can get very expensive. I would also point out that most small company voice mail system don't have a customer service representative to redirect to (like the company I work for, for example. The best you can do is redirect to the receptionist, who doesn't have admin access to the Cisco phone system.)

Re:FTFA - default passwords (1)

DigitAl56K (805623) | about 5 years ago | (#28640745)

Ideally you have two thresholds, first may trigger a temporary lockout as you mention, but the second should still lock the voice mail. There are only 10K possible combinations for voicemail, and I bet many fewer common combinations based on patters or number/character equivalent sequences. Another enhancement would be to automatically send someone a text message after either threshold is met. At least it promotes awareness.

To clarify #3 users who are dialing in from their own phone number should still be told their last login time and if there were failed attempts from other numbers, again for the sake of awareness. Targetted users could at least change their PIN more regularly this way.

Thanks for your reply btw :)

 

Re:FTFA - default passwords (3, Insightful)

Thaelon (250687) | about 5 years ago | (#28640927)

That would be annoying as hell.

How about they leave the system as is, and let users too careless to change their passwords suffer the consequences instead of making everyone pay for their shortcomings?

People like you are why we have stupid laws prohibiting things that most of us can handle responsibly blocked or prohibited for the sake of the retarded few.

Re:FTFA - default passwords (2, Insightful)

OldSoldier (168889) | about 5 years ago | (#28640395)

yea... from the article... "How did famously technologically-challenged reporters manage the feat without BT catching on"

My take: By preying on even more technologically challenged victims. Celebrities that are too stupid to change their default pin or have their "handlers" do it for them.

I sense a feeding frenzy here. You don't have to be smart, just smarter than your victims.

calling voicemail is "hacking" (1, Redundant)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 5 years ago | (#28639527)

about as much as my flatulence is "rocket propulsion"

Re:calling voicemail is "hacking" (2, Insightful)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 5 years ago | (#28639611)

calling voicemail "hacking" is about as much as my flatulence is "rocket propulsion"

You are correct. It is Scrip Kiddie level Phreaking ;-)

According to the media... (5, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 5 years ago | (#28639787)

According to the media, you are a hacker if you are even aware that default passwords can be used to bypass a security system. You are a hacker if you are capable of doing anything with a computer without a big corporation babying you along.

The media has no clue about hackers. The New York Times is the same paper that has articles about "cool new software" to do things like digital post-it notes -- in the year 2009. Do you really expect them to differentiate between hacking and simply using a default password?

Re:According to the media... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 5 years ago | (#28640279)

You are a hacker if you are capable of doing anything with a computer without a big corporation babying you along.

"News for hackers. Stuff that matters." At least it's closer to the old definition of "hacker" (someone who can write quick and dirty code that actually runs).

Re:According to the media... (1)

Kozz (7764) | about 5 years ago | (#28640749)

In regards to the (alleged) North Korean computer attacks on US and South Korean servers... I watched an NBC report where they first used the word "hacked", shortly followed by "cracked", and then after those loaded words finally explained that the attacks were denial of service. I guess it's as stupid as equating virus/worm/trojan/spyware.

Re:According to the media... (3, Interesting)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 5 years ago | (#28641071)

The media has no clue about hackers.

Add that to the list if there's room. I know they're likewise clueless about basic biology, let alone stem cells, genetics, evolutionary theory, or microbiology. A friend of mine who is an ordained priest once pointed out to me that they're usually off on religious issues as well. General news services aren't really good at anything it seems besides celebrity gossip. Of course, it's a reflection of society's ignorance, which is even more depressing. Ask some guy off a street what a hacker is, I bet you'd be dissapointed. Hell, you'd probably be dissapointed in MY answer as to what a hacker is.

For both our sakes, I won't answer, nor will I start quizing you about biology.

Not much news here (1)

Hutz (900771) | about 5 years ago | (#28639559)

So, they "hacked" in using the default passwords? If someone interested in their privacy can't be bothered to figure out how to change their own password on their phone, why would they be upset when someone else listens?

Re:Not much news here (3, Insightful)

darkmeridian (119044) | about 5 years ago | (#28639583)

If you don't lock the door then we can steal everything in your house.

Re:Not much news here (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | about 5 years ago | (#28639941)

It's a bit more like complaining that somebody went through your luggage when you never changed the code on the lock from the default 1234.

Re:Not much news here (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | about 5 years ago | (#28640085)

So in other words, both are "wrong", you mean?

Re:Not much news here (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | about 5 years ago | (#28640341)

Yes.

Re:Not much news here (2, Insightful)

osu-neko (2604) | about 5 years ago | (#28640105)

It's a bit more like complaining that somebody went through your luggage when you never changed the code on the lock from the default 1234.

The fact that person A was stupid and made it easy for person B doesn't make person B any less a scumbag who should be taken out back and shot.

What happened to "eye for an eye"? (1)

denzacar (181829) | about 5 years ago | (#28640207)

should be taken out back and shot.

If I were the said "scumbag", I sure as hell wouldn't like you anywhere near my "legal procedure".

Re:Not much news here (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | about 5 years ago | (#28640443)

Wow, I don't think it's appropriate to shoot people for rifling through your luggage, but your point is otherwise well taken. Yeah, it's wrong for people to violate your basic privacy rights, but assuming they won't is rather silly because you should have the sense to know that plenty enough people would. That's why we have passwords for our e-mail, PIN codes for our debit cards, and combination locks on our luggage in the first place.

Re:Not much news here (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 5 years ago | (#28640009)

What, exactly, was stolen in this case? Perhaps a better analogy would be, "If you do not draw the curtains, everyone will see what you are doing."

Re:Not much news here (1)

EvanED (569694) | about 5 years ago | (#28640117)

Perhaps a better analogy would be, "If you do not draw the curtains, everyone will see what you are doing."

The original analogy was too strong, but IMO that's too weak. Yours doesn't require any affirmative actions on the part of the observer; happening to walk by and look towards the house is sufficient. I said in another reply that dialing voicemail and attempting to guess the password is, I think, closer to actually going up to the door, checking to see if it's unlocked, and if it is, going inside (but not taking anything).

Re:Not much news here (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 5 years ago | (#28640211)

I do not think it is too weak in the case of a celebrity. Celebrities constantly have to worry about the press spying on their private lives; that is the nature of being a celebrity. If they do not draw their curtains when they do something private, a photographer with a long-distance lens will be able to record it; likewise, if they do not change their voicemail password, a reporter with a telephone will record their voicemails.

Re:Not much news here (1)

EvanED (569694) | about 5 years ago | (#28640411)

Does that mean it's right? If you think that it's okay for a reporter to try to guess a voicemail PIN, is it okay for them to go through an unlocked door? If not, what's the essential difference? Would it be okay for the reporters to manually try all 1000 4-digit PINs? It'd only take a couple days. What about doing it with an autodialer?

Re:Not much news here (1)

EvanED (569694) | about 5 years ago | (#28640069)

More like "if you don't lock the door then someone can wander through your house and take photos."

Re:Not much news here (1)

gnud (934243) | about 5 years ago | (#28640619)

If you lock the door with a standard-type key (the numbered kind that everyone can buy, or you can jimmy with a screw-driver), it's still both a crime and wrong to unlock it and take everything you can find.

Re:Not much news here (2, Interesting)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 5 years ago | (#28639781)

I say let's call them "PIN kiddies" :-)

Re:Not much news here (4, Insightful)

drsmithy (35869) | about 5 years ago | (#28640137)

If someone interested in their privacy can't be bothered to figure out how to change their own password on their phone, why would they be upset when someone else listens?

For the same reason if I leave my front door open I'd be upset to find someone wandering around inside my house.

Not actively keeping someone out, is in no way the same thing as inviting them in.

Everyones Enemy (0, Troll)

flyneye (84093) | about 5 years ago | (#28639603)

Someday people will catch on that the popular press is nothing more than charlatans out to make a buck at everyones expense.
You can't read anything and believe it. The necessity of news is replaced with eye catching lies to sell ads. The necessity of privacy is pushed aside by judges paid off by their large coffers. As long as they can push it by the editor they will write anything whether it is more destructive than its value or not.
Next time you see a news clown, throw a rock! Mug them! Take their cameras and cripple them permanently. Make it a job no one wants. This includes television and radio. No news is better than the problems associated with the bullshit the general public has to put up with. You can flush this industry down the toilet along with the music industry , movie industry, television and radio. These are some of the true enemies of mankind. Just let it die.

Re:Everyones Enemy (2, Interesting)

BigJClark (1226554) | about 5 years ago | (#28639973)


Might as well burn a couple books, as well. And while we're at it, we should round up teachers, doctors, artists, the intellectuals and re-educate them.

Re:Everyones Enemy (2, Interesting)

flyneye (84093) | about 5 years ago | (#28640189)

I expected this typical regurgitation from those not used to thinking.
If you don't do something different you will continue to get the same results.
If you don't want the same results, do something different.
If you don't trump their power, they will continue as usual.
If you continue to spew mantra, you will eventually obscure the problem.
Then you are part of the problem.
If you like taking it up the ass from the media, by all means bend over and grease up.
Don't expect everyone to join you just because you have a pre programed general issue mantra.

Re:Everyones Enemy (2, Informative)

BigJClark (1226554) | about 5 years ago | (#28640293)


Right, so your alternative is to assault the local news guy reporting on the new kitchen being opened up on the corner of broadway and 2nd?

I believe this is a intellectual forum. A forum for intellectuals. Maybe this isn't the best place for you to hang out.

Re:Everyones Enemy (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | about 5 years ago | (#28640173)

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has a 5-digit account number?

Re:Everyones Enemy (1)

Itninja (937614) | about 5 years ago | (#28640197)

Hi! This is Pol Pot. Have we met? Because you seem like some I could really dig (a grave for).

Re:Everyones Enemy (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | about 5 years ago | (#28641255)

Outside /., I mostly read the Chicago Tribune. Sure, they aren't perfect, but they do a good share of reporting on crooked politians (being in good supply around here). If I had to pick between politicians and the media, I'd trust the media. They are far less harmful, and they can even occasionally be helpful.

BT? (1)

c_jonescc (528041) | about 5 years ago | (#28639629)

I clicked on TFA to find out what BT is, but that sentence was just lifted from the link which also doesn't clarify.

That's some nice summerizin'.

Re:BT? (4, Informative)

nebaz (453974) | about 5 years ago | (#28639673)

If I would have to guess, Btitish Telecom? (Since they are talking about the BBC)

Re:BT? (0)

c_jonescc (528041) | about 5 years ago | (#28639699)

Thanks - you're right:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BT_Group

Re:BT? (2, Informative)

Em Emalb (452530) | about 5 years ago | (#28639687)

Back in my day, BT = British Telecom.

I would assume that that's what they mean by BT.

Re:BT? (4, Funny)

Hurricane78 (562437) | about 5 years ago | (#28640743)

You young whippersnappers! In my days, BT meant "big tits"! And that is how it should always be!

Now get off my lawn!

Re:BT? (1)

WillyMF1 (867862) | about 5 years ago | (#28639691)

British Telecom

Re:BT? (1)

DinDaddy (1168147) | about 5 years ago | (#28639739)

British Telephone or something like that.

Re:BT? (1)

dbcad7 (771464) | about 5 years ago | (#28639989)

Don't know.. maybe British Telecom ? .. So perhaps these are landlines as opposed to cell phones ? .. and the story gets lamer and lamer, I suppose there are some people who use the phone companies voicemail as opposed to a physical answering machine for their home phone.. well, la..de..da big spending celebs who throw away their money on fancy add on services. (course who knows maybe BT includes it, unlike the phone co's here)

Re:BT? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | about 5 years ago | (#28640679)

"BT" stands for "Big Titties", something the British are particularly fond of. In fact, they are so popular, they even have a website for them here [bt.com] .

caller id spoofing != hacking (0)

NynexNinja (379583) | about 5 years ago | (#28639641)

Not sure if I would classify changing your caller ID to the number of the victims phone number and then calling the victims voicemail (most are configured without password) to listen to voicemail messages, "hacking". This is a common feature of all outbound SIP providers.

Re:caller id spoofing != hacking (4, Informative)

clone53421 (1310749) | about 5 years ago | (#28639899)

They weren't doing that. RTFA, they'd call the number and then dial the default PIN to try to access the voicemail. If the PIN hadn't been changed from the default, they'd be able to listen to all the messages.

Re:caller id spoofing != hacking (1)

tinkerghost (944862) | about 5 years ago | (#28640031)

Not sure if I would classify changing your caller ID to the number of the victims phone number and then calling the victims voicemail (most are configured without password) to listen to voicemail messages, "hacking". This is a common feature of all outbound SIP providers.

There are 2 numbers provided with every phone call - the caller ID and the ANI. The caller ID can be changed, the ANI is part of the switching protocol & is inserted by the phone company at the switch & can't normally be changed (it can be blocked/caused to fault). Any company that's using the caller ID & not the ANI to access voicemail without a password should be sued into oblivion for criminal negligence.

Re:caller id spoofing != hacking (1)

NynexNinja (379583) | about 5 years ago | (#28640241)

This has been known for a very long time but SIP providers set the ANI to the CID value. Also, every voicemail provider that I've ever seen that does use the caller ID value to authenticate the caller into the voicemail box does not use the ANI value.

Funny the other press. (1)

tjstork (137384) | about 5 years ago | (#28639681)

Fox News, WSJ, other Murdoch properties are sailing along in number 1 slots and relatively profitably. NYT and other media outlets have been looking for a way to dent their rivals for years. One wonders how much of this sort of reporting they do themselves, and how motivated by the public interest this is, or their own.

You know what this means (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28639719)

I'm sure dozens of celebrities are now changing their pin TO the default, so media outlets can "accidentally" find out juicy details about them.

Hilarious (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28639743)

When BT eavesdrop on 10,000 of their customers private communications (by way of PHORM) nothing is done [theregister.co.uk] , but when 3000 celebs voicemail are involved they scream bloody murder.
either intercepting peoples communication (of any kind) is illegal or its not, and if it is illegal why are there no prosecutions and conspiracy charges brought upon all DPI operators ?
my ADSL internet goes down the same phonelines as voice but somehow its "different"

after all they keep telling us if you have nothing to hide....

Can be done with Asterisk (1)

kaptink (699820) | about 5 years ago | (#28639965)

There is a way of playing back voicemail messages that bypasses all security checks that I found out accidentally using a friends asterisk box. You need a proper telco trunk to it which I don't think is too hard to get (he works for a local phone company). If I remember correctly, it works by setting your trunk ID to the mobile phone or land line number you want to hack on the asterisk box. The phone system thinks it's the mobile itself calling when you dial the same mobile number through the trunk and automatically starts the message bank. was quite fun tho totally illegal since you are forging numbers through the public phone system. great party trick and good way to have some fun with your mates.

Re:Can be done with Asterisk (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 5 years ago | (#28640503)

I have to enter my PIN even calling from my own phone.

Basic security (0, Troll)

JobyOne (1578377) | about 5 years ago | (#28640277)

Not changing your voicemail PIN is pretty much equivalent to having one of those bathroom locks that can be opened with a penny on your front door. If somebody breaks in it's still illegal, but you share some blame because you're stupid.

Be interesting (4, Interesting)

drsmithy (35869) | about 5 years ago | (#28640327)

To see who has a problem with this, but is A-OK with connecting to any random unprotected WAP they can find.

It's not hacking and PINs won't help. (2, Insightful)

quarkoid (26884) | about 5 years ago | (#28640613)

The UK mobile network voicemail systems are very very insecure.

Fake your caller ID (very easily done if you have half a clue) and dial into the message centre for whichever network the mobile number's on.

That's it. Simple. We've been doing this since 2004 to enable our customers to retrieve voicemail from their desktops.

It doesn't matter whether there's a PIN on the voicemail or not - none of the networks prompt for PINs if the caller ID is one of theirs.

And, to answer the question, "How did famously technologically-challenged reporters manage the feat without BT catching on?"

1 - It wasn't the reporters who did it, it wasy the PIs they hired
2 - What have BT got to do with it?

Nick.

did this a long time ago (1)

RemoWilliams84 (1348761) | about 5 years ago | (#28641141)

When I was in highschool and cellphones were just getting big, we used to call our friends phones and hit the button to go straight to voicemail. Then we'd try the default pin to log in. If they didn't change it, we would change the greeting message to something funny(usually disgusting) and change the password on them. It was hilarious.

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