Feeds

Phreakers seize government phone system

Department of Homeland (in)Security

Top three mobile application threats

Information technology workers at the US Department of Homeland Security are busy scraping egg off their collective faces after unknown hackers broke into their telephone system and racked up $12,000 in calls to the Middle East and Asia.

The hackers made more than 400 calls by accessing the voicemail system of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a subagency of DHS, according to the Associated Press. The system had recently been upgraded, and it appears a "hole" was left open by the unidentified contractor who performed the job. A spokesman didn't identify the hole but said it has been closed.

One of the older tricks in the annals of so-called phone phreaking is breaking into private branch exchange systems by using passwords that are set by default during initial setup. Security-minded admins will see to it that those passwords are changed, but bureaucracy and inertia being what they are, that doesn't always happen.

Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, India and Yemen were among the countries that received calls from the hacked FEMA account. Most of the calls lasted for about three minutes, but some were as long as 10 minutes.

Ironically, DHS, which is responsible for securing US infrastructure against terrorists, issued a warning in 2003 that unsecured PBXes were wide open to intruders.

"This illegal activity enables unauthorized individuals anywhere in the world to communicate via compromised US phone systems in a way that is difficult to trace," the bulletin read.

The AP story is here. ®

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Whoever you vote for, Google gets in
Report uncovers giant octopus squid of lobbying influence
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.