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News Corp. Hacking Scandal Spreads To Government 105

wiredmikey writes "The scandal revolving around the News Corporation's now defunct British tabloid, News of the World, has entered a new phase with news that the hacking extended into areas of national security, as detectives working for the Murdoch media empire may have hacked into the computer of a government minister responsible for Northern Ireland. Scary stuff, yet the enterprise security community seems strangely quiet on the topic, aside from showing other journalists how easy it is to do. Potentially, if you know the correct mobile number and you can guess four digits, you too can be listening to your elected leaders' personal messages. The chances are pretty good that it could be their birthday."
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News Corp. Hacking Scandal Spreads To Government

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  • by Don_dumb ( 927108 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @03:09PM (#38217408)
    Alastair Campbell - (Press Secretary for Tony Blair) not someone who I would normally believe on anything. Wrote a pretty comprehensive witness statement outlining how far the problems goes and how much it affects the running of the country and to be fair he understands the media more than most. It is worth a read - http://www.levesoninquiry.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Witness-Statement-of-Alastair-Campbell.pdf [levesoninquiry.org.uk]
  • Leveson (Score:5, Informative)

    by Spad ( 470073 ) <slashdot@spad.[ ]uk ['co.' in gap]> on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @03:15PM (#38217466) Homepage

    Watching the Leveson inquiry over the last couple of weeks has been one of the most depressing things I've ever done; the lowlight was probably former NOTW journalist Paul McMullen saying the following on the subject of privacy:

    In 21 years of invading people's privacy I've never actually come across anyone who's been doing any good. Privacy is the space bad people need to do bad things in.

    Privacy is evil; it brings out the worst qualities in people.

    Privacy is for paedos; fundamentally nobody else needs it.

    Basically the papers are full of amoral arseholes (Not just NI papers either, it's clear that the Daily Mail and others have been up to it as well), the Police and the ICO have been shamefully complicit and the government didn't want to look into it in case it upset Murdoch and he told his papers not to support them any more.

    Makes you proud to be British really...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @03:18PM (#38217508)

    Social Engineering.

    I hate to be the bearer of obvious news, but the DEFAULT password on everyones voicemail is usually 1234, 1111 or something. Every place I worked it was the same. Every cell carrier, landline and VoIP... they use the same default password, not random ones.

    Plus there are people who have the voicemail password programmed into their cell phone. That sets the stage for hacking the voicemail without doing much at all. Just call in via a landline and try the defaults first, then try their birthday and family birthdays. You'll get most peoples PIN's this way.

    The only reason there isn't large amounts of chip+pin/ATM pin fraud is because ATM's eat cards after 3 wrong answers, but if you have access to a POS system to keep trying, keep trying PIN's. Keep buying sticks of gum from gas stations and 711's until you guess the pin.

    In voicemail systems, the voicemail retrieval number is easily found, and everyone STUPIDLY puts their full name in the voicemail greeting. NEVER DO THIS. Your voicemail message should not be in your voice, and should not have your full name in it. Better yet, only list the extension. The reason is that you make yourself a voicemail hacking target for social engineering by having your name on the voicemail.

    Say I'm a hacker wanting to get the PIN to someone elses voicemail. I keep trying voicemail boxes until I find someone with a name that works their. Next thing I do is get ahold of the technical service desk and ask for them to reset the voicemail PIN and say I'm the person on the voicemail greeting. Oversimplified (if they're doing their job they'll ask for the employee badge number, but oh, that can be socially engineered too.)

    When I worked for (CELL PHONE CARRIER), it's easy to reset passwords, just call in, verify the SSN and the password will be reset. Such horrible abuse of personal information.

    When I worked for (INTERNET SERVICES), someone tried to social engineer me using the voicemail. Fortunately my name isn't easy to spell. Someone went through the phone directory and left messages asking to be called back to deal with their account. As the customer was in the US and I was not handling US customers it raised a red flag right away.

  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @03:36PM (#38217704) Homepage Journal

    Amazing how less regulation and lower taxes are always the answer to any problem, isn't it?

    UK has a concept of Fit and Proper, which could be applied to management of News International, forcing them to divest of certain properties if the government deems the Murdochs as unfit or improper. Could you imagine that in the USA? Not I.

  • Re:Well, well.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by newcastlejon ( 1483695 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @03:58PM (#38217988)

    You could certainly argue that this is a problem with the culture and practices of the press and not one specifically with Murdoch. That said, when a significant portion of the popular press is in fact owned by Murdoch the distinction seems moot.

    I heard this on the radio yesterday and it seems pertinent: Charlotte Church (a singer - just think 'Bieber' but with classical training and a proper excuse for looking like a girl) was asked to perform at a Murdoch birthday party. She was told that if she waived her usual fee she would be treated "favourably" in News Int. papers. Now, maybe I'm being too cynical but that sounds rather a lot like extortion. It's even worse when you bear in mind we're talking about a girl who was in her early teens at the time.

  • Re:Qestion (Score:5, Informative)

    by zonky ( 1153039 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @04:39PM (#38218450)
    You don't need to guess any digits. You spoof the caller id to be the cell phones number. Most people don't bother with a PIN if they call voicemail from their own phone.
  • by The Askylist ( 2488908 ) on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @04:54PM (#38218630)
    Bear in mind when reading Campbell's statement that this is the man who brought us the dodgy dossier and the 45 minutes to WMD claims. He's a master of selective statement and a propagandist worthy of Goebbels himself.
  • Re:Well, well.. (Score:4, Informative)

    by jd ( 1658 ) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {kapimi}> on Wednesday November 30, 2011 @09:13PM (#38221578) Homepage Journal

    We don't celebrate the same sort of commentary. From "That Was The Week That Was" (TW3) to "Spitting Image" to "The Mary Whitehouse Experience", we've had apolitical satire (ie: everyone's fair game, and like most game it's apparently best served plucked and roasted). Politically-inspired satirists (Ben Elton, Alexi Sayle, etc) also exist. However, they're nowhere near as nasty, cruel or mass-marketed. They're humourists who present the warts-and-all view of contemporary life, including politics, in a way that might provoke a little thought here and there ("Bumbledown: Life and Times of Ronald Reagan" is a great example) but isn't intended to be the mouthpiece of some specific segment of society. There wasn't the mean-spirited attitude there.

    Paxman - psssh! He interviews political figures and is nasty to some of them, but David Frost was both a stronger interviewer and a more respectful one at the same time. Being unpleasent isn't necessary or useful in political commentary.

    Indeed, I'll argue that that that is really the underlying difference there. Us Brits can get nasty - In Scotland, never, ever try and put ginger ale in a single malt Scotch if you value your life - but it's just not in the same way. We save our violent rhetoric for where it belongs, the football terraces^W^H^WLongship Burnings and the LARP SummerFest.

You will never amount to much. -- Munich Schoolmaster, to Albert Einstein, age 10