Mobile phone hacking is now a reality. Your SMS messages and contacts were considered the most important data in your phone. Voice-mail (or voice messaging) had previously been ignored as a potential risk until revelations in the recent U.K. phone hacking scandal proved otherwise.
Voice-mail is a computerized system for answering and routing telephone calls. It also records, saves and relays voice messages and can also be used to page a phone number.
Voice-mail uses Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) to authenticate and access the messages. These PINs are usually four digits in length. PINs are used in phone networks where caller-ID is not available. Caller-ID is a feature in the phone network that provides subscribers the name and telephone numbers of a caller that appears on a phone display.
When caller-ID is available in a network then this caller-ID is used to allow someone access their voice-mail boxes. Accessing someone’s voice-mail is possible by pretending to be the genuine caller. This impersonation is called caller-ID spoofing. By using special software that hijacks a caller-ID, you can surreptiously listen to someone’s voice messages.
It is imperative that mobile phone networks implement measures that mitigate the risk of voice-mail hacking through caller-ID spoofing. Various conventional measures can be applied for example notifying users of repeated/failed login attempts to their voice-mail accounts.
Our mobile network providers should use mobile phone network-IDs instead of caller-IDs for authentication because the former are harder to spoof (impersonate).
Another very effective feature mobile providers can employ is by not allowing the masquerading of a calling ID when it is the same as the called number. This will prevent an impersonator being automatically admitted by the mobile provider’s filtering process.
As a voicemail user there are a few things you could do to secure your voicemail. If you use a PIN for your voice-mail, change it regularly. Just like your computer passwords that have to be constantly changed, so should you do the same for your voice-mail box.
You should also disable voice-mail if you do not regularly use it. This ensures that messages are not left on your voicemail account without your knowledge.
You should also look out for voice-mail alerts that don’t exist. Ever received a voice-mail alert and when you listen to the messages it’s the old ones that are playing?
Voice-mail hacking is a present day reality. You should report suspected breaches to your mobile provider and the relevant authorities.