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AT&T Crime Security IT

AT&T Customer Phone Hacking Tied To Terrorists 39

Posted by samzenpus
from the phoning-the-bad-guys dept.
theodp writes "Have you ever hacked into AT&T customer accounts and diverted money to terrorism-financing groups? You will. In 2003, the NY Times reported that AT&T contended U.S. victims of a Philippines-based telephone hacking swindle were responsible for long-distance calls fraudulently made through their voice mail systems. At the time, the city of East Palo Alto was slapped with a $30,000 long-distance phone bill that resulted from voice-mail hacking. Fast forward to 2011, and the NY Times is reporting that a Philippines-based group hacked into the accounts of AT&T business customers in the U.S. and diverted money to an organization that financed terrorist attacks across Asia. But it's not quite deja-vu-all-over-again. While it'd make a better story if AT&T contended customers were responsible for the charges and any ensuing terrorism, AT&T reimbursed the victims of the hacking this time around."
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AT&T Customer Phone Hacking Tied To Terrorists

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  • Who needs voicemail? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @09:46AM (#38181758) Homepage Journal

    Months ago I received a text message, which billed me for $10. T-Mobile just let it through like it was completely legit. I had to spend over an hour with customer service before I got them to block all billing to my mobile phone account.

    Talk about a security hole you could drive a truck through. How many other vermin are doing this and getting away with it?

    • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @10:08AM (#38181892) Homepage

      "I had to spend over an hour with customer service before I got them to block all billing to my mobile phone account."

      Could you tell us how you did it? No matter what I try, I keep getting a bill every month :-(

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 27, 2011 @10:09AM (#38181898)

      Talk about a security hole you could drive a truck through.

      That's not a security hole - that's a feature [pcworld.com]. and of course T-Mobile has a history of this shit [consumerist.com]

      See, the telecom industry is legally allowed and prefers to be able to charge for third party services because they get a HUGE commission. That's the reason why T-Mobile gave you a hard time because they were also making money on the fraudulent charges. And the way it works is that the crooks don't even need permission to it. They can slam the charges on your bill. And to add insult to injury, our phone bills are so goddamn complicated and with purposefully vague terms like "National service fees" or charges that are made to look like some sort of Federally mandated charge, it's very difficult to catch the bogus charges and therefore, most people pay for the crooks.

      What we need is a regulation that makes third party billing on any telecom account illegal. The telecoms cannot be trusted to do the right thing. Self regulation my ass!

        • by shentino (1139071)

          That's just happy horseshit boilerplate to placate the masses.

          Political payoffs ensure that this practice can and will continue as planned.

      • One Solution... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by tunapez (1161697) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @01:46PM (#38183124)

        Verizon tried this on my account numerous times(almost quarterly) from '04-'07. Despite my regular calls to remove fees and block all web content again and again and again, my account kept defaulting back to allow web access fees and espanol spam text fees(I even wrote the Arizona AG and the BBB to no avail). It all stopped miraculously when I decided to continue our arrangement 'off-contract' as I waited for Android. I have not had a single mis-charge since August of '07.
         
        *Google & Verizon give me enough reasons to retain my e815 and stay off-contract. I would ditch VZW but they are no better/worse than any other options [msn.com], wireless or landline.

    • by mehrotra.akash (1539473) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @10:54AM (#38182126)
      But seriously, whats up with US paying to receive calls in the home circle, and messages overall?
      • by hedwards (940851)

        Trust me, if they ever did away with that they would find another way to overbill us, at least this way we can largely avoid it.

        What pisses me off is that they charge people to receive text messages and the only way to opt out is to turn it off completely.

    • I had to spend over an hour with customer service before I got them to block all billing to my mobile phone account.

      My experience with T-mobile is totally different. Never a dispute with billing. They usually waive if there was any issue. Last time I was in Niagara Falls, the phone picked up some Canadian telcom roaming and slammed me with some $18 worth of excess charges. Called them, and they waived it without any questions.

      Within one month I got a text saying I was over my data limit. Called them and told them, "I have an android, but I don't have a data plan, I don't want a data plan, I have never paid any data cha

  • by jpapon (1877296) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @09:58AM (#38181822) Journal
    If you're looking to swindle money from people, EPA (East Palo Alto) isn't such a great place to start. You'd be much better off looking west over the freeway. That's where all the money is.... but I guess if you're a hacker living in the Philippines you wouldn't know that.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 27, 2011 @10:07AM (#38181890)

      People with money generally know how to keep it, or they wouldn't have it. Scammers target the inept who don't know how to defend themselves (and who society will quickly believe brought it onto themselves). Rich people call the police. Poor people don't, because they (correctly) expect calling the police to get them into more trouble.

  • by adamchou (993073) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @10:13AM (#38181920)

    While it'd make a better story if AT&T contended customers were responsible for the charges and any ensuing terrorism, AT&T reimbursed the victims of the hacking this time around.

    How would that have been better?! That would have just been more upsetting. I'm glad that the customers got reimbursed and that AT&T did the right thing. Maybe this is a sign of a change (I know, wishful thinking)

    • by Calydor (739835)

      It would not be better, no, but it would be a better STORY.

      Come on, be honest. Which story do you remember most, the story that something went wrong and was fixed, or that something went wrong and the company responsible started pointing fingers at everyone but themselves?

  • Sounds about right.

  • by dohnut (189348) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @12:50PM (#38182774)

    I worked at a small (~120 employees) engineering company in the Midwest. Our building was in a new industrial park on the outskirts of a small metropolitan area. I can't remember the exact date this happened but it would have been near 2000.

    Apparently someone from California (well, that is where the call came from) was hacking PBXs and he got into ours (which had no security in place -- no, I wasn't IT). Instead of milking it for free calls he (I'm assuming a male) decided to call in a prank office shooting. He called 911 from our system and told the dispatcher that someone or some group were in the building shooting people. He even played clips of screaming and gunshots in the background.

    Needless to say, the entire police force showed up to our industrial park. One officer was in such a hurry that his "brakes went out" when he tried to corner and instead ended up in the glass-enclosed display area of a nearby home remodeling outfit.

    The police observed the building for a while (we had a large, open 2 story glassed-in reception area) and noticed that everything seemed normal. The sent an officer up in full swat gear to the door and the receptionist was quite surprised to see him. Eventually, they figured out that there were no shooters and that someone outside of the building had made the call.

    Of course, I was told all of this after the fact as I was in my cubicle with headphones on and didn't know any of this had happened.

    Not sure if they ever caught the people responsible but it is a good story.

  • Who hasn't? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Hognoxious (631665) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @01:58PM (#38183184) Homepage Journal

    Have you ever hacked into AT&T customer accounts and diverted money to terrorism-financing groups?

    Of course, hasn't everybody?

    • by artor3 (1344997)

      I haven't, but according to the summary, I suppose it's only a matter of time. I never knew I had it in me.

  • and to think I was just reading about the number of call centers in the philippians recently bypass the number in india. Will they be passing our personal financial information on to terrorists??? I mean at$t is using call centers in the philippians. That to me is scarey, especially after the recent attack from there.

    "More Filipinos - about 400,000 - than Indians now spend their nights talking to mostly American consumers, industry officials said, as companies like AT&T, JPMorgan Chase and Expedia

  • Have you ever hacked into AT&T customer accounts and diverted money to terrorism-financing?

    not sure its even required. being the largest telecommunications conglomerate on the planet, i already pay for its service. the funds
    i give it allow AT&T to provide warrantless wiretaps and direct communications surveillance services to the US government. The US Government is an agency that has
    financed the taliban in the past, as well as overthrew the shah of iran in 1953. They construct secret prisons [wikipedia.org]
  • ...but AT&T would be shutting down all of the call centers for AT&T and T-Mobile in the Philippines upon completion of the merger. Also if you've ever talked to somebody who sounded like they picked up English on a bus ride to their Farsi classes, you probably talked to somebody in the Philippines.
  • So the gist of the story is "criminals steal money for criminalist activities?"

    Of course it sounds better if you replace "criminals" with "terrorist."

It appears that PL/I (and its dialects) is, or will be, the most widely used higher level language for systems programming. -- J. Sammet

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