Was Vodafone Hacked?

Alan Mather writes on his own weblog, DiverDiver

“This story about mobile phones being hacked during the Athens Olympics (indeed for about 9 months of 2004 by some stories) is really weird.

Details in the press are pretty consistent - up to 100 people, including the Greek PM and his wife, had their phones tapped (and presumably listened to or even recorded) by unknown perpetrators who did, however, manage to install some dodgy software on Vodafone's internal systems.

Vodafone's corporate website is, however, entirely bereft of any press release on the matter - the last update to their Greek news section was on 19th December and none of the other news pages seem to have any detail.

The good news, say the Greeks, is that national security wasn't at risk because all the spooks use protected phones.

I don't get it. Vodafone has its network hacked, maybe 100 important people have their phones monitored for nearly a year, and no one cares? Vodafone don't issue a press release to say "don't worry folks we've checked every system in our global network and we're quite sure that there are no other instances of this and, by the way, we've fired our network security manager for not seeing that this was going on for months, until some customers complained about not receiving messages".

Does this mean that if I don't get texts (anyone noticed that text messages on the Vodafone network in the UK are slowing down and sometimes taking hours or even days to get through?), I might have my phone tapped (lord knows why anyone would want to tap mine)? But forget about me (that was easy) ... what about the 15 million odd people who are Vodafone customers? And, if you're going to worry, perhaps we should worry about this subset:

The UK government signed a £38 million deal with Vodafone in 2000 for up to 100,000 government mobile phones? As the press release said:

There are real benefits to the taxpayer on this agreement as the joint arrangement with Vodafone includes process savings, tariff reductions and access to new technology.

It doesn't mention that there are real benefits to foreign intelligence services or that the new technology is actually someone else's that's installed on the Vodafone network.

I'm baffled by this one...”