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Hacking Your Cell Phone

It doesn’t take much to hack a cell phone. The British tabloid News of the World hacked a lot of cell phones in Great Britain, and phone users in the US are equally vulnerable. Hacking cell phones often relies on nothing more sophisticated than the laziness of the phone user.

Cell phone circuit board

Cell Phone Circuit Board

Most of us, when we acquire a cell phone, say, or a router for our computer or even a combination lock for a strong box — most of us don’t bother to change the PIN for the phone or the alphanumeric password for the router or the combination for the lock. Generally, people accept the default settings that manufacturers put on the gadgets we buy. The snoops at the News of the World simply used the default setting for the victim’s cell phones, and that gained them entry to the phone’s voice mail.

Even when the phone user has chosen a unique alphanumeric pass code,  some phone carriers allow the user the option of turning off the requirement to enter the code. That used to be considered reasonably  safe, because the phone carrier would permit access to voice mail messages only to calls coming from the user’s phone. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before hackers learned to “spoof”— in other words, learned to make it appear that the request came from the user’s phone.  The moral to this story is a familiar one: make up a good pass code and use it.

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