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Murdoch Paper Reporters Eavesdropped On Celebrities' Voicemail 186

Posted by timothy
from the have-a-whole-room-in-the-at&t-building-too dept.
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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Murdoch Paper Reporters Eavesdropped On Celebrities' Voicemail

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  • 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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Guess what the intended market for this [bhphotovideo.com] is.....and that is the used price.
      • by Gerafix (1028986)
        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.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 09, 2009 @01:26PM (#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."

    • 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.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Khyber (864651)

        You know, instead of trying to resolve things the LEGAL way, which obviously is not working, how about we take out Mr. Murdoch? (mm straight to his head.

        Give me the gun, I'll fucking do it myself. That will send a MAJOR message across the globe to anybody else that would want to fuck with our privacy.

        Martyrdom isn't that bad if done for a just cause.

        • Martyrdom isn't that bad if done for a just cause.

          Trouble is, it wouldn't be you who'd end up the martyr.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Jaysyn (203771)

          I was going to ask where do you want to gun sent, but that is probably what they call conspiracy.

      • by makomk (752139)

        These people paid someone to put a camera in a room where Max Mosley(67) was having sex.

        Nope, they paid someone to wear a camera into one of Max Mosley's spanking sessions; no sex involved. Then they only paid her half of what they promised and printed a bunch of BS about it being Nazi-themed that was entirely untrue (but was what they wanted the story to be). Finally, they tried to blackmail the other women involved into giving their stories by threatening to splash their names, photos and other personal information across the front page if they didn't. Quite impressive, though since the pres

  • Allegedly. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @01:02PM (#28639503)

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

    • by SomeJoel (1061138) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @01:06PM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cawpin (875453)

        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.

      • 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.

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

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

    • by Ash Vince (602485)

      Because it did. Two people have even been sent to prison for it after they tried it on a member of the royal family.

  • by gigne (990887) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @01:02PM (#28639509) Homepage Journal

    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

    • 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?

  • by guruevi (827432) <evi AT smokingcube DOT be> on Thursday July 09, 2009 @01:02PM (#28639521) Homepage

    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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

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

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

      • by babyrat (314371)

        PIN number

        You mean a personal information number number?

        Must be from the Department of Redundancy Department.

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

    • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @01:24PM (#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?

    • by DigitAl56K (805623) * on Thursday July 09, 2009 @01:27PM (#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.

      • 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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Locke2005 (849178)
        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
        • 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 t

      • by Thaelon (250687) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @02:31PM (#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.

        • by DigitAl56K (805623) * on Thursday July 09, 2009 @03:01PM (#28641393)

          Me:

          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.

          You:

          That would be annoying as hell.

          Which part would be "annoying" - i.e. something you would have to do more than once ever (like setting your PIN), or something you would have to do anyway (i.e. entering it from another number)?

          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.

          To the contrary, it is people like you who make a poorly considered knee-jerk reaction to well considered discussions , speaking very loudly and making stupid accusations while doing so, that cause the very laws you're speaking of.

          The overall impact of everything I suggested? For 99.9% of people all it would mean that after buying a new phone you were forced to set a PIN.

          Feeding the trolls, I know..

      • by gad_zuki! (70830)

        How about the admins do their job and use unique defaults instead of 1234? It really is incredible how lazy people are with passwords. Id rather assign you 84833 as your VM password than have you leave it 12345.

        • by ironicsky (569792)

          The Telco I work for does it the smart way. Your default pin # is the last 6 digits of your account number. So assuming you have an account with us, and a bill you know your pin. The system WILL NOT under any circumstances allow you to use your default pin for anything other then initial login.
          The first login forces you to change your pin to something else before you are allowed to listen to your messages.

          The other problem becomes the user setting the pin to the # on the front of their house, birthdays or p

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by OldSoldier (168889)

      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.

  • by c_jonescc (528041)
    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'.
  • Hilarious (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 09, 2009 @01:15PM (#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....

  • Guardian Story (Score:5, Informative)

    by bmsleight (710084) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @01:16PM (#28639759) Homepage
    This was originally a Guardian Story. It relates to mobile phones, not BT landline.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/jul/09/newsoftheworld-newsinternational [guardian.co.uk]
  • Be interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy@nOSPam.gmail.com> on Thursday July 09, 2009 @01:52PM (#28640327)
    To see who has a problem with this, but is A-OK with connecting to any random unprotected WAP they can find.
    • I fail to understand your point?

      If I find a random, unprotected WAP and decide to make use of it, I'm simply getting on the Internet without paying to do so. I have no knowledge of WHY the person providing the connection is doing so - but could reasonably assume they INTENDED to make it freely accessible. (After all, many people do this for the sake of providing their community with a public service. You can find web sites dedicated to it, with tips on the best antennas to place outdoors so people get th

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by drsmithy (35869)

        I fail to understand your point?

        In both cases, you are accessing someone else's "property" without explicit invitation or permission, simply because you can.

        • by Phroggy (441)

          I interpret their SSID broadcast and lack of encryption to be an invitation. If they had the SSID broadcast turned off, or if they had encryption turned on (and didn't deliberately make the key available to me, e.g. by putting it in the SSID, or posting it on the wall) then I would assume I wasn't invited. Gaining access by monitoring encrypted traffic and doing a brute-force crack on the encryption key would be impolite.

  • by quarkoid (26884) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @02:09PM (#28640613) Homepage

    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.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      shouldn't the PIs ahve there license revoked, or fined or something?
      Being a PI doesn't mean you can violate other peoples right, and break the law. I don't care what you saw on the TV.

  • I can't be the only one who read this headline and thought, "What, Howling Mad Murdoch runs a newspaper? I thought he was too busy being crazy and flying the A-Team around?"

  • Skipe (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DeanFox (729620) * <spam,myname&gmail,com> on Friday July 10, 2009 @07:02AM (#28647921)

    Murdock. Rupert Murdock? Wasn't Skype taken over by Rupert Murdoch? Skipe having backdoors that allow undetected eavesdropping? I always wondered what he wanted with Skipe. Now I see the whatever billions he paid for Skipe turning out to be just an old man with a toy.

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