Phone hacking ring helped groups evade eavesdroppers

Even though computer hacking tends to monopolize information security headlines, phone hacking, or phreaking, as it is technically known, remains a major source of headache for communications security professionals. Last Friday, law enforcement agencies in several countries announced the arrest of more than half a dozen individuals in the US, Italy and the Philippines, who were operating a major international phreaking network. The group had apparently broken into thousands of corporate telephone networks in Australia, Canada, the US, and Europe, and was channeling near-free telecommunications services to several criminal and militant organizations around the world. According to law enforcement insiders, “the hacked networks might have been used by terrorist organizations to thwart eavesdropping and tracking by intelligence agencies”. Moreover, Italian media is reporting that the manager and chief financier of the phreakers, who is located in Brescia, Italy, sent over $500,000 to a Muslim charity operated by one of Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-laws, who has been tied with Islamist militant groups in Southeast Asia. Incidentally, we have extensively analyzed what we here at intelNews call “cell wars”, namely the battle over the control of telecommunications networks in 21st-century asymmetric warfare.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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