Anorak News | Do it the News Corp way: The Anorak’s Guide to Hacking like a hack

Do it the News Corp way: The Anorak’s Guide to Hacking like a hack

by | 19th, July 2011

WITH the News of The World dead, we may never again learn the content of Liz Hurley’s voicemails. You’re probably missing them already, so in the interests of public information, here’s how to go about getting access to the voicemails and phone conversations of people who interest you. 


  • Voicemails

Voicemails are relatively easy to hack because they are stored on phone company servers. You can access a voicemail account from any phone, by just dialling a certain number. That number could be number could be based on the number of the phone, or it could be a generic one for all customers. Not hard for a hacker to work out, as the New Scientist suggests.

Voicemail accounts often have PIN numbers to restrict access. Most people leave theirs as the network default. But if your target has changed his/hers, you can phone their company and ask for a reset – which usually only requires the date of birth and the first line of an address.

But who uses voicemail anymore anyway? Probably no-one after this affair dies down.


  • Location

Tracking someone’s location through their phone is a bit harder – because you need to bribe the police.  Information about your location at any given time can be found out by your phone operator who work it according to your distance from nearby phone masts. It’s part of the system that lets you receive calls and texts. Your target doesn’t need to have a smartphone with GPS, any phone with a SIM card can be tracked. But phone companies won’t just hand location information out to anyone. They’ll only give it if the police request it. Sounds like the going rate for the police is £300.

In the business, they called it ‘pinging’. The Guardian quotes News of World whistleblower Sean Hoare:

“journalists were able to use a technique called “pinging” which measured the distance between mobile handsets and a number of phone masts to pinpoint its location.

“Hoare gave further details about the use of “pinging” to the Guardian last week. He described how reporters would ask a news desk executive to obtain the location of a target: “Within 15 to 30 minutes someone on the news desk would come back and say ‘right that’s where they are.'”


  • Listening in on calls

Phone companies won’t let you do this unless you have a request from the Home Secretary. A note from PC Bloggs won’t cut it for this. So if you really want to listen to someone’s calls for a reason that doesn’t involve a threat to national security and you can’t afford to bribe the Home Secretary, then you probably need a source inside the phone company. A really good source. Someone who could poke around for a while at the phone exchange. Otherwise, if you can get hold of the phone you want to hack, you could try and fit a tiny bug inside it which would send out by radio the conversations that happen on it. Difficult though, because mobiles are so small.

If they’re still using landlines, it’s all a lot easier – just find where the phone wire connection enters the house and place a little radio bug (available on the internet) on the cable.

  • Email

Hacking email is probably easier than a phone these days – and will most likely involve sending an email to the address of the person you want to hack. Inside the mail you need to include a Trojan or a worm, perhaps as an attachment which will work its way into the computer and let you access or alter the victim’s files remotely. Anonymous sex bloggers Belle de Jour and Girl with a One Track Mind who were outed by the Sunday Times in 2008 suspect they were victims of a Trojan hack like this.


New technology like smartphones hasn’t necessarily made phones safer – if anything – they’re at greater risk because there is more information on them now than there ever has been. They’re a real data hoard of emails, photos, facebook, private tweets as well as texts and voicemails. They’re also more open to open to hacking and viruses because they’re like mini computers and are deeply integrated with the internet. Rogue apps, or even just opening a dodgy link on the browser could be enough to open one up. Few viruses have been made to attack mobile operating systems, but it’s a potential threat for the future.



Posted: 19th, July 2011 | In: Technology Comment (1) | TrackBack | Permalink