This past week President Elect Barack Obama had his Verizon Wireless account accessed by unauthorized personnel. This comes after it had been made clear that Obama, a noted Blackberry addict, would face withdrawal from his mobile devices once he takes office in the new year.
In the case of President Elect Obama, it was essentially an “inside job,” and Verizon Wireless President and CEO Lowell McAdam made the following statement:
“This week we learned that a number of Verizon Wireless employees have, without authorization, accessed and viewed President-Elect Barack Obama’s personal cell phone account. The account has been inactive for several months. The device on the account was a simple voice flip-phone, not a BlackBerry or other smartphone designed for e-mail or other data services.
“All employees who have accessed the account – whether authorized or not – have been put on immediate leave, with pay. As the circumstances of each individual employee’s access to the account are determined, the company will take appropriate actions. Employees with legitimate business needs for access will be returned to their positions, while employees who have accessed the account improperly and without legitimate business justification will face appropriate disciplinary action.”
But whether anything sensitive was seen isn’t so much the point, but rather that it could have been. This is worth keeping in mind when you use your own mobile phone. And the fact that this comes following the hacking of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s e-mail account. In that situation, the hacker involved used information from Governor Palin’s Web site to figure out the likely password.
Obviously it is easy to dismiss this as something that could happen to someone in the public eye, but keep it in mind if your voicemail code just happens to be on your Web site! It is all too common to use the street address numbers for the pin number, but is that really a good idea if you might be receiving sensitive voice mail messages?
The point is that these attacks should be a wake up call. Given the paper trail made by today’s electronic devices (something rather ironic actually), every call can be seen as a potential smoking gun. And more importantly, make sure you keep your sensitive information protected. Even if your address won’t be 1600 Pennsylvania Blvd., don’t use your address for the pin number!