Feeds

Blind phone phreaker coughs to harassment charges

Swatting menace faces long stretch

Website security in corporate America

A legally blind phone phreaker has admitted prank phonecall and hacking charges.

Matthew Weigman, 18, of Massachusetts, pleaded guilty to two felony charges last week at a Dallas hearing. Judge Paul D Stickney was told Weigman (aka Li'l Hacker) was a notorious figure in the telephone "party line" hacking scene prior to his arrest, last May.

He used his knowledge of the telephone systems and skills at social engineering to trick phone company employees into entering commands at his bidding. Weigman has been interested in telephones since he was eight, yet has applied his knowledge not for the benefit of society - nor himself, for that matter - but to put one over on other phone phreakers.

Weigman admitted conspiring together with his cohorts to make false distress calls that would trick police into sending SWAT teams over to the homes of rival crews. This is more than a straightforward prank call, because the caller line identity is spoofed using hacking techniques. The practice is known as swatting in the digital underground.

The teenager also admitted dialling into a line reserved by supervisors on Sprint and listen into customer support calls. Credit details memorised by Weigman during these calls were passed onto accomplices who used the information to purchase electronic gear and computers.

Weigman became the target of a federal investigation in 2005, aged just 15, when he sent a police SWAT team over to the Colorado house of a TSA screener whose daughter refused to participate in phone sex sessions with the teenage miscreant. The Feds considered using Weigman as an informant, but the deal fell through after investigators discovered he was hacking AT&T on the side. His handler at the time said he couldn't go three days without attempting a hack of one sort or another.

The charges against Weigman stem from a battle with Verizon security investigator William Smith starting last April, a month after he turned 18. Weigman had used the details of a Dallas woman to pay for the phone bill of the Boston apartment he shared with his mother and sister. Smith cancelled the account, triggering a battle of wills that escalated to include harassment and intimidation.

Weigman faces a sentencing hearing scheduled for 24 April, where he faces a possible maximum of 13 years' imprisonment under a plea-bargaining agreement.

Wired has links to clips from Weigman's prank calls and more background on the case here. ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
Home Depot: 56 million bank cards pwned by malware in our tills
That's about 50 per cent bigger than the Target tills mega-hack
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Critical Adobe Reader and Acrobat patches FINALLY make it out
Eight vulns healed, including XSS and DoS paths
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Blood-crazed Microsoft axes Trustworthy Computing Group
Security be not a dirty word, me Satya. But crevice, bigod...
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.