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VOIP Mix-Up Exposes Customer Call Data

Bill Adler was relieved to get his old phone number back. The Washington-area resident's digits were marooned shortly after his former Internet-based phone service provider -- Sunrocket -- abruptly closed its doors in mid-July. Relieved, that is, until he received an odd phone call from a local man who'd inherited Adler's phone records along with his old temporary phone number.

Adler had signed up with ViaTalk, one of several voice-over-IP providers who scrambled to absorb Sunrocket's 200,000 stranded customers. ViaTalk gave him a temporary number while it was negotiating the recovery of his old one. A few weeks after ViaTalk secured his old number, Adler heard from the ViaTalk customer who had inherited his temporary digits.

"I couldn't believe it, and at first I thought it was a crank call," Adler said. "The guy was reading me our inbound and outbound phone records [created] during the one month we were using that temporary number."

Noel Gueugneau, the Annandale, Va., man who was issued Adler's old temporary number, discovered he had someone else's phone records after logging into his account page online and seeing calls to Korea he never made. He said he decided to alert Adler after getting little help from ViaTalk customer support.

"Because after one month I thought it was time to notify this person that I had complete access to his phone records," said Gueugneau, also a refugee from Sunrocket.

Brendan Brader, the chief executive of ViaTalk's parent company HostRocket, said the company was currently investigating whether the mix up was due to human error or a bug in the system.

"We have since started a complete technical review of the process to ensure that the mistake was not a bug on the automated side, and are in the process of going over the procedures step by step with all of our porting specialists as a refresher course to help avoid this type of occurrence in the future," Brader wrote in an e-mail to Security Fix.

Despite Brader's assurances that the issue had been resolved, Gueugneau says he still has access to Adler's old phone records. Adler says that's water under the bridge.

"I'm trying to divorce my anger over this whole thing from the reality that switching to another phone company is going to cause a lot more headaches," Adler said.

By Brian Krebs  |  October 8, 2007; 11:10 AM ET
Categories:  From the Bunker  
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