Print 14 comment(s) - last by spuddyt.. on Aug 22 at 6:33 PM

An older hacking technique leaves FEMA with egg on its face... and a hefty phone bill

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) phone system was compromised by a hacker who then placed more than 400 phone calls to the Middle East and Asia.  The calls cost a total of $12,000 and ranged from three minutes up to 10 minutes in length.

Specifically, the Emmitsburg, Maryland FEMA facility was targeted by the hacker.

FEMA CIO Jeanne Etzel and several IT managers are looking into the intrusion of the recently installed Private Branch Exchange (PBX) network.  Sprint was first to notice the fraud, with the company immediately stopping all long-distance phone calls through the PBX network.

It was revealed that calls were placed to Afghanistan, India, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, plus a few other nations.

As part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), it's even more ironic that FEMA was compromised by a "security hole" that was left open while the network's voicemail system was undergoing maintenance.  It was just five years ago when Homeland Security warned companies about silly security issues that could leave them exposed to security issues.  FEMA IT officials indicated the security hole has been fixed.

The hacker used "old school" hacking techniques that were effective about 10 years ago, but shouldn't have been successful any more.

The DHS has had several different run ins with hackers over the past few years.  During a security intrusion last year, hackers gained access to more than two dozen DHS computers with the information being sent to China.  The DHS said security methods were not properly installed by Unisys, which is why the security intrusion took place.

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3 Bucks a minute ?
By hoosiertech on 8/22/2008 11:10:58 AM , Rating: 5
400 calls x10 minutes =4000 minutes /$12,000 = $3.00 a minute. I think the government needs a new long distance carrier.
No wonder our taxes are so high. Government waste at it's finest.

RE: 3 Bucks a minute ?
By themengsk176 on 8/22/2008 11:32:22 AM , Rating: 3

RE: 3 Bucks a minute ?
By MrBlastman on 8/22/2008 11:48:51 AM , Rating: 5
You forget that those are special minutes, much like the nuts and bots that we buy. The nuts and bolts are nano-reinforced structurally sound items that are produced in a secret sweatshop 1000 feet below the earth's surface guaranteed to withstand a 100 megaton nuclear blast. THAT is why you get a 150.00 bolt.

Those minutes, you see, aren't normal minutes. They are quantum dialated minutes. The U.S. Government has a special contract that allows them to conduct communications about the future before it really happens. This is what gives our military a tremendous edge and will allow us to continue to defend freedom in the future - now.

THAT is why they cost so much. They just don't tell you that. Or they have, you just don't know it yet but will in due time.

Our Government isn't as silly as you'd think. ;)

RE: 3 Bucks a minute ?
By Souka on 8/22/2008 12:38:26 PM , Rating: 5
This is a fake story....

FEMA phone system doesn't work... just like the rest of their infrastructre...

RE: 3 Bucks a minute ?
By darkfoon on 8/22/2008 4:06:22 PM , Rating: 1
Dunno why anybody modded you down.
That is good sarcastic humor.
Seriously people, grow a sense of humor or get off the internet.

RE: 3 Bucks a minute ?
By spuddyt on 8/22/2008 6:29:23 PM , Rating: 2
wow, so thats how there were communications about the "there's no WMD's in iraq" before the war!

RE: 3 Bucks a minute ?
By The0ne on 8/22/2008 1:36:38 PM , Rating: 2
You have no idea. While working on wind turbines with the DOE we won contracts that had SO much money that we didn't even know how to spend the rest on. It was either spend the money or lose it. I literally spent thousands and thousands on instrumentation systems, software, toolings, etc and still can't spend it all. That's how ridiculous it can be.

RE: 3 Bucks a minute ?
By spuddyt on 8/22/2008 6:33:22 PM , Rating: 2

$12,000 ?
By Tegrat on 8/22/2008 10:32:03 AM , Rating: 3
400 calls @ 3-10 minutes length = $12,000 ??? Ummm.... no wonder the culprit resorted to hacking!

By The Boston Dangler on 8/22/2008 12:17:08 PM , Rating: 3
"you're doing a hell of a job, brownie."

By DatabaseMX on 8/22/2008 5:01:09 PM , Rating: 3
AND .... Homeland InSecurity at it's best. What a joke!!

And yes ... possibly a different CARRIER!! Like, how about anyone of a hundred 1010 dial around services. But oh, wait ... that's effectively what the hacker did. Dialed right around the 'security'.

oh well ...


By Mitch101 on 8/22/2008 11:19:13 AM , Rating: 2
I'm guessing FEMA should get Vonage and should look into the phone company billing processes and fees as extortion.

Well lets just see...
By MrBlastman on 8/22/2008 11:23:24 AM , Rating: 2
How their crisis management skills handle this one! :)

Which PBX?
By Cobra Commander on 8/22/2008 1:00:58 PM , Rating: 2
It'd be nice to know what PBX it was exactly. :(

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser
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