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July 26, 1988

HACKING THREAT ALARMS PACIFIC BELL

By CBR Staff Writer

The problem with modern telephone exchanges is that they are nothing more nor less than big computers, and Pacific Bell is deeply worried at the implications now that America is breeding a generation of hackers. A confidential memo passed to the New York Times expresses the California phone company’s concern at the potential for mischief when hackers log into telephone exchanges – and lists the possibilities, many of which have already happened. Using nothing more than a personal computer, a modem and a little ingenuity or inside help, it is possible to eavesdrop on peoples’ calls; add calls to customers’ bills or get ones’ own calls charged to others; alter a day or date stored on the exchange; steal facsimile messages in transmission; keep a party line busy; redirect calls to another number, or add charged features to a customer’s account. Or a hacker can shut an entire exchange down.

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