There was no “phone hacking” – but have you changed your voicemail codes?

This content is 13 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

Before I start, let’s get one thing straight – I’m not condoning the actions of the News of the World, or any other medium that is illegally/illicitly accessing people’s personal information. And I added my name to more than one anti-Murdoch/News International petition this week. I’m appalled by some of what’s come out over the last few days but this is a technology blog – and this post is about technology, not politics or crime syndicates news organisations [source: Google/Wikipedia].

I just want to highlight something that was posted on Phil Hendren (aka Dizzy)’s Dizzy Thinks blog last year:

“* Calling someone’s mobile, waiting for it to go to voicemail and then entering their four digit pin (0000) is not hacking. Hacking is about circumventing security, not being presented with [a security check] and passing [it].

** Calling someone’s mobile, waiting for it to go to voicemail and then entering their four digit pin (0000) is not tapping. Tapping is the covert act of real-time interception of active communication links.”

But we can all protect ourselves – David Rogers explains how on Sophos’ Naked Security blog. So I urge everyone to check their voicemail access code(s), and change it/them to something non-default. After all, you wouldn’t make your email logon credentials consist of your email address as a username and the word “password” as your password would you?

5 thoughts on “There was no “phone hacking” – but have you changed your voicemail codes?

  1. Mark, I disagree. The act of unauthorized access can be considered hacking. Was there any technical component to it? No. But hacking nonetheless. It’s been my experience that many leave pin codes and passwords at their default. How many wireless access points have you seen with the default admin password?

  2. Marc, thanks for your comment – it’s great to hear the views of others on this (and not on the NoTW story, but about the technology side). I’ll try and illustrate my original view with an analogy:

    If I leave my front door key in the lock, and someone enters the house, has a look around, then leaves again, are they a burglar? It’s not the right thing to do, and it’s probably all sorts of other things (illegal entry, trespass, etc.) but they didn’t burgle my house.

    “Hacking” sounds good in a story. It’s sensationalist, it sounds technical, it sounds like a dark art. That’s a shame because hacking used to be a good thing… it’s certainly contraversial because of the negative connotations taken on in the world of computer security but, in it’s purest form, hacking is about innovation.

    The act of unauthorised access isn’t “hacking” – it’s accessing something without authorisation. And, depending on the circumstances, that may be a criminal activity.

  3. I see your point, but many different definitions have been created for old style criminal activity, burglary, trespass, etc. There has not been the expansion of defined types of criminal electronic activity to the same extent IMO. I agree with the way the media uses the term hacking, it is used for sensationalism and to get the ratings. “Unauthorized Access” isn’t as sexy.

  4. Pingback: Phone Hacking

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