X

Phreaker calls buddies overseas on U.S. government dime

U.S. FEMA investigating voice mail hole that allowed hacker to make hundreds of calls overseas.

headshots_elinor_mills_140x100.jpg
Elinor Mills
headshots_elinor_mills_140x100.jpg
Elinor Mills Former Staff Writer

Elinor Mills covers Internet security and privacy. She joined CNET News in 2005 after working as a foreign correspondent for Reuters in Portugal and writing for The Industry Standard, the IDG News Service and the Associated Press.

Someone broke into a U.S. Homeland Security Department phone system and made 400 calls to the Middle East and Asia, racking up $12,000 in long-distance charges, The Associated Press reported.

The phone phreaker got into the voice mail system of the Federal Emergency Management Agency last weekend and had free calling to places like Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen for at least two days before someone at Sprint noticed, according to FEMA spokesman Tom Olshanski.

It appears that a hole was left open by a contractor during an upgrade of the voice mail system, but further details were not released.