Understanding Caller ID Spoofing
Here is a scenario that will help you understand about caller ID spoofing and why it is really important for you.
Image Credit: Don Hankins, Flickr
You are a famous celebrity. Being a celebrity, you will have lots of fans, reporters at your heels, and at times, a few enemies. Any person who falls under the three categories mentioned will be really interested in your day-to-day activities for various reasons. Since you love your privacy and you don’t want everything to be known with everyone, you have total control of what you share with which circle of people. However to keep up with your busy schedule, you have started relying more on modern technology like voicemail, smart phones, etc.
One day your manager leaves you a voicemail asking you to meet him at a place X (you can substitute any place for X) at a certain time to discuss an upcoming project. Voicemail is a great feature that you love because it lets people leave their messages for you when you can’t be reached, thus it helps you be free from worrying about missing calls. However, this feature comes with a huge potential price tag- your privacy- because it is very easy to hack into your voicemail.
Caller ID spoofing lets a person with curious or malicious intentions to fake your phone number and access your voicemail. Since your voicemail thinks that you are the one calling, the person behind the fake number can now have total access to your voicemails. Now that person knows you are at the place X, at time Y, and that you are going to work on a project Z (something that you have kept a secret from media and other people). Hacking into your voicemail was as simple as that.
You can take the above scenario and draw an analogy with your life. There will be a few people who will be interested to know what is happening in your life. It can be one of your exes, your boyfriend or girlfriend, your spouse, or it can be just about anyone who wants to play a prank on you. Getting into your voicemail is not rocket science and any person who knows a little about computers and phones can breach your privacy and you will not even know it, unless you look carefully.
Voicemail is just one attack vector using caller ID spoofing. Unless you have been living in a lonely island, you would have heard about how a few reporters of the famous “News of the World" hacked into the voicemails of the then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, various members of the royal family like Prince William and Prince Harry, various soccer stars and movie stars, and the list is endless. The reporters were no computers experts; they just used a simple approach that had been overlooked or rather, ignored, by many, for a long, long time.