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How to Protect Your Voicemail, Office Phones Post News Corp.

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on July 28, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

By some estimates, nearly 7,000 people fell victim to the News of the World phone hacking scandal, perhaps rightfully inciting a little paranoia amongst those who rely heavily on their voicemail boxes.

But while most out there won't suffer too badly if a rogue message is unleashed, as an attorney, you'd be wrong not to protect your voicemail.

Between messages from clients, experts, and opposing counsel, an attorney's inbox can contain a host of confidential and privileged information, all of which you're ethically bound to protect to the best of your ability.

Luckily, protecting your voicemail doesn't appear to take much ability at all.

According to mobile phone security expert David Rogers, your goal is not to protect your voicemail from hacking, but from people accessing it through illegal, yet easily obtainable, means.

Because most of us only access our voicemail boxes from our phones, we're never prompted to input a PIN. However, because it's possible to access boxes remotely, we are assigned a default PIN by our carrier.

Very few change their default PIN, and as was the case on the recent scandal, it's often easy to find a list of a carrier's default PINs on the internet, allowing anyone with your phone number to access your voicemail.

Some so-called phone hackers also use slightly more sophisticated means called spoofing. This changes the number that shows up on caller ID when someone makes a phone call, allowing a person to skip entering a PIN.

Unfortunately, Security Expert Christopher Soghoian explained to NPR that, while Verizon and T-Mobile users don't have to worry about spoofing, AT&T and Sprint users do. Only an internal security change will protect against spoofing.

The real takeaway here is that, in order to protect your voicemail, you should finally change your PIN.

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