Attacks/Breaches
12/12/2008
05:12 PM
50%
50%

AT&T, T-Mobile Fined For Voice-Mail Security

After a string of high-profile hacks, the Los Angeles district attorney has filed an injunction against the carriers for overstating the security of their voice-mail systems.

AT&T and T-Mobile have paid fines and agreed to stop advertising that their voice-mail systems are safe from hackers.

In a permanent injunction filed in a Los Angeles court Thursday, District Attorney Steve Cooley said the wireless operators were overstating how secure their voice mails are. The settlements are the culmination of year-long investigation that was launched after multiple complaints of unauthorized voice-mail access, including some from celebrities Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.

"Our investigators found that cellular providers who claimed their systems were safe from such sabotage were wrong," said Cooley in a statement. "Cell phones purchased by undercover investigators were easily hacked into, enabling the voicemail to be changed at will by use of the spoofing system."

The district attorney said hacking into the voice mails allowed messages to be changed or erased, which could lead to "havoc." Investigators used TelTech Systems' SpoofCard software to break into voice mails. The software lets users perform caller ID spoofing, and it had been used to break into voice-mail accounts that don't require passwords.

Neither carrier admitted any wrongdoing, but AT&T agreed to pay $59,300, while T-Mobile will pay $25,000. Both companies said they are committed to user security, and are encouraging subscribers to set up advanced passwords for more protection.

"These cases illustrate how deeply new technology and misuse of it can affect the lives of consumers," Cooley said. "The software program that was advertised as 'legal in 50 states' was not legal in California and some other states."

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The cybersecurity profession struggles to retain women (figures range from 10 to 20 percent). It's particularly worrisome for an industry with a rapidly growing number of vacant positions.

So why does the shortage of women continue to be worse in security than in other IT sectors? How can men in infosec be better allies for women; and how can women be better allies for one another? What is the industry doing to fix the problem -- what's working, and what isn't?

Is this really a problem at all? Are the low numbers simply an indication that women do not want to be in cybersecurity, and is it possible that more women will never want to be in cybersecurity? How many women would we need to see in the industry to declare success?

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