How easily can your phone be hacked? -

How easily can your phone be hacked?

In the wake of the United Kingdom phone hacking scandal that shut down the nation's most read newspaper, there are growing fears about the privacy and security of cellphones.

Reporters of the now defunct 'News of the World' newspaper, formerly operated by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, are accused of hacking into the voicemails of disaster victims, celebrities and others.

"I was not surprised by the techniques used; I was surprised at how low, if you will, those folks went to get news stories," said Skip Graham, owner of Spy Tec store in Belmont.

As a counter-intelligence expert, Graham said some technique of phone hacking take very little effort.

Several web-based programs allow a person gain access to a person's phone by a process called "spoofing." It's unclear if the reporters involved in the scandal used this or other methods.

With permission, one of our photojournalist's allowed our reporter to hack his voicemail. Using one of the web based programs, access to the phone's voicemail came in minutes. We found a voicemail left earlier that day.

"I wanted to leave you a message to see if I can access it from another phone and if I did, you've been hacked," the message said.

"It's pretty prevalent if you know where to look and how to do it," said Graham. He explained another method of phone hacking that requires a person to physically have access to the target phone, but again for only a few minutes.

There is one program, that targets Google-based or Android phones, that when installed, will automatically forward incoming messages to a hacker's phone.

"You'll get all the texts, all the calls, so everything the target phone gets, you'll get," Graham said.

That's unless you have software designed to catch a hacking attempt. Graham installed his just in time.

"About 2 months ago, somehow through Yahoo!, someone was trying to get into my phone and right away I got an alert."

Forty dollars is all the software cost him for a year. He hates to imagine the price of no protection at all.

You can find anti-hacking apps through most application stores on smartphones. The way to beat voicemail hacking really depends on your service provider. Providers AT&T and Sprint allow customers the option to bypass entering their password if the voicemail system recognizes it's being accessed by the subscribers listed cell number. That's where people can be at risk.

The solution is to change your voicemail settings to require you to enter your password every time you check your voicemail. Verizon Wireless voicemail systems are designed to have the user enter their password every time the system is accessed.

It's also important to change the voicemail default password from 0000, 1234 or the last 4 digits of the phone number. 

Copyright 2011 America Now. All rights reserved.

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