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Paris Hilton Accused of Phone Phreakiness

You may have read the story from a while back about how hackers broke into socialite Paris Hilton's cell phone account and posted online racy pictures of the hotel heiress stolen from her mobile device (turns out the perpetrators were the same people accused of hacking into consumer database giant LexisNexis last year). But could it be that Hilton herself has begun using some of the same hacker tactics leveraged against her in personal attacks against others?

So says, a company that offers "spoofing" services that let people fake the number that appears in the recipient's caller ID display. The company's lawyer, Mark Del Bianco, says Hilton was among some 50 customers whose accounts were suspended for allegedly using Spoofcard's service to break into other peoples' voice mail accounts and listen to their private messages or alter their outgoing messages. Spoofcard said it discovered the violation "while reviewing its customer call records for evidence of fraud and other prohibited conduct."

Several cell-phone providers rely on caller ID to verify that someone checking a voice mail account is calling from the account holder's mobile handset. Sprint, Cingular and T-Mobile all allow consumers to turn off or bypass the passcode-checking function used to safeguard access to voice mail. Del Bianco wouldn't say which wireless provider was the target of all these attacks, but based on previous reporting it is clear that Hilton has been a longtime customer of T-Mobile, and that is likely the target network involved here.

According to Spoofcard, actress Lindsay Lohan was among those whose voice mail accounts were broken into. Del Bianco declined to name other victims or alleged perpetrators, but added that many of the terminated customers and victims whose mailboxes were accessed are celebrities. The company does not plan to press charges against anyone involved, Del Bianco said, but he added that the company would refer the matter to federal authorities if requested to do so.

While faking your caller ID number is not a crime (yet), faking it so that you can break into someone else's voice mail box is. Under Section 2701 of the Federal Stored Wire and Electronic Communications Act, gaining unauthorized access to another person's voicemail and messages is a federal offense punishable by fines and up to five years in prison.

In June, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill that would make it a crime to maliciously falsify the caller ID information as seen by the recipient of a phone call.

I contacted Hilton's publicist about this news, but am still awaiting a reply, although the AOL-affiliated entertainment-news site reported that her rep has denied the accusation. I will update the blog if Hilton's folks get back to me.

By Brian Krebs  |  August 25, 2006; 9:05 AM ET
Categories:  From the Bunker  
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Next: Botnet Operator Sentenced to 37 Months in Prison


Great article Brian, but let's see...

"In June, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill that would make it a crime to maliciously falsify the caller ID information as seen by the recipient of a phone call."

And Mark Del Bianco, admittedly works for a company peddling these soon to be illegal practices: "So says, a company that offers "spoofing" services that let people fake the number that appears in the recipient's caller ID display."

Seems that this Mark Del Bianco would want to "lay low" and not draw attention to themselves, since they (and other scum like them) are soon to be out of business, or operating illegally if they continue. Also, since they are directly aiding in committing a crime with this spoofing service, seems they could be in a heap of trouble.

Posted by: BadBusiness | August 25, 2006 9:39 AM | Report abuse

dear lord, don't we get enough Paris Hilton over at Celebritology? Can't you expose & examine the perils of spoofing without giving Ms. Hilton more media attention? I understand that her involvement could help bring awareness to non-techie people who aren't otherwise reading Security Fix and the like. But jeez, is there nowhere left to hide from Paris, Lindsay & friends? Sigh.

Posted by: fermata | August 25, 2006 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Haha would be funny if Paris was punished for doing this. But with her money we know that shell get out of it.

Posted by: Kate | August 25, 2006 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I had never heard of Spoofcard before this, but one heck of a way for them to generate a buzz about them - be interesting to see if it pans out ... but personally, I find all this celebrity stuff about as exciting as this website

Posted by: fredg | August 25, 2006 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Paris Hilton. WEve seen her NAKED and everywhere else. She´ll get old soon enough. WHile ur at it little pet why dont u do a few tricks Paris? HOw about the media turning on u like they did to BRitney? WE havent seen that yet. Would looooove to though..hehe

Posted by: Kate | August 25, 2006 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Gosh......I didn't know she was smart enough to use a cell phone.

Posted by: PPool | August 25, 2006 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Paris is a woman of many unexpected proclivities. A recent photo of her online shows her touting Captain Beefheart's 1969 album "Trout Mask Replica." So it comes as no surprise to me that she's a regular Grace Murray Hopper in the technology field.

What next, Nicky Hilton extolling the super-deluxe digital reissue of Lou Reed's "Metal Machine Music?"

You laugh now...

Posted by: Soo Doh Nim | August 25, 2006 2:28 PM | Report abuse

The bill passed by the US House, H.R.5126, says: "It shall be unlawful for any person within the United States, in connection with any telecommunications service or VOIP service, to cause any caller identification service to transmit misleading or inaccurate caller identification information, with the intent to defraud or cause harm.

Alaska is considering a stronger bill, HB 308, which does not require proof of intent: "A person who knowingly inserts false information into a caller identification system is guilty of a class B misdemeanor."

Both bills are still before their respective Senates and hence subject to being gutted by lobbyists.

Posted by: Not there yet | August 25, 2006 3:27 PM | Report abuse

I just wanted to take the liberty of reminding everyone that there is actually another high profile case of telecom-related law breaking to be noted. That would involve George W. Bush's violations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA). These warrantless wiretaps amount to a felony and constitute a potentially impeachable offense. I don't really care if Paris the heir-head is hacking Lindsay Lohan's phone but the president's illegal wiretaps concern me a little more. But that's just me . . .

Posted by: Blaise | August 26, 2006 2:31 AM | Report abuse

"Paris". What an absurd name for such an absurd science fiction fantasy.

Have "Paris" meet "Dick Cheney" and "Rumsfield" out on the deck of the veranda of Haliburton and have Paris wear her hat and rayon tea dress with the trace evidence on it.

Since "Paris" represents the United States where there is mandatory education, the only way to imitate the royal lightheadedness of illiterate monarchies (that I don't want to libel) is to portray someone who does not exist.

Posted by: olive | August 26, 2006 5:06 AM | Report abuse

These girls can't stay away from security-related scandals . It's kind of humorous to read about celebs hacking into each other's accounts, but in the "real world" such security breaches can cause major problems for all parties involved.
All communication devices... cell phones AND email especially need to be carefully secured to prevent any and all information leaks.

Posted by: Mila | September 1, 2006 7:38 PM | Report abuse

What a skanky girl with too much money. She's a total embarrassment to the Hilton family. Just shows you money does not buy you class.

Posted by: PATRICK | September 8, 2006 3:16 PM | Report abuse

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