The Week Online Archive
Hacker Makes $12,000 In Calls On Government Phones
August 27, 2008: A hacker broke into the phone system at the Federal Emergency Management Agency -- a branch of the Homeland Security Department -- and made about 400 phone calls to the Middle East and Asia, running up a tab of about $12,000.
AP reports that the hacker got in by way of the FEMA voicemail system, a newly installed PBX setup that's similar to those in many other government offices.
Security consultant John Jackson told AP, "In this case it's sort of embarassing that it happened to FEMA themselves -- FEMA being a child of DHS -- with calls going to the Middle East."
It was FEMA's phone provider, Sprint, that caught on to the hack and blocked outgoing long-distance calls. FEMA blamed a "hole" left in the system by the contractor and said the hole has been closed. The agency is still looking for the hacker.