Voice mail ‘hacking’

Jim Dickie, formerly Head of Investigations and Crisis Management at Vodafone provides the following advice.

“Most people will be aware of the recent publicity detailing allegations of the hacking of the mobile phones of celebrities and other public figures by media organisations. As a security and investigation consultancy with extensive experience in this area we would like to offer some basic but useful advice. This advice is not limited to celebrities, but is for everyone.

The advice is very simple to follow and could result in you avoiding unnecessary intrusion into personal and professional affairs: –

1.     The current scandal involves pin numbers used to access mobile phone answering services. Many people neglect to change the default pin, which therefore enables voicemail messages to be accessed remotely by unauthorised users. Be aware of the importance of setting unique pin numbers on all devices.

2.     Bluetooth allows access to your mobile or laptop. Many mobile phone users leave the Bluetooth facility enabled, for example after using a hands-free operation whilst driving. In investigations we have been involved with, open Bluetooth channels have been used to access private information, such as text messages, contacts and call histories. We would stress that Bluetooth should be switched off when not actively in use.

3.     There are now software programmes that can determine passwords and pin numbers in a matter of minutes, enabling access to personal information. Wherever possible use pin numbers and passwords with a mix of numbers, letters, and symbols. We are happy to offer further advice on the use of passwords and pin numbers, as well as additional security precautions that can be taken.”