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Vodafone Admits Employee Hacked Journalist’s Phone

Vodafone Admits Employee Hacked Journalist’s Phone

by Elliot MarasSeptember 14, 2015

vf-logoA Vodafone employee hacked an Australian reporter’s phone after the reporter wrote a story exposing a security risk in 2011, according to The Australian. The London-based telecommunications company acknowledged Saturday that an employee had accessed “call charge records and text messages” of Fairfax Media journalist Natalie O’Brien in January of 2011.

O’Brien wrote a story in 2011 about a security risk in Vodafone’s data storage techniques that made the names, addresses and credit card information of millions of customers available online through the use of generic passwords.

Fraud Boss Was Concerned About Hacking

Colin Yates, Vodafone Group’s former Australian fraud boss, sent an email in 2012 indicating concern that the hacking could become public, according to documents obtained by News Limited (the former name of The Australian).

“This could have serious consequences given it is a breach of the Australian Telecommunications Act,” Yates wrote.

And (it) would certainly destroy all of the work done by VHA (Vodafone Hutchison Australia) over the past months to try and restore their reputation.

Vodafone said it hired an accounting firm to investigate the hacking and found there was no evidence company management instructed the employee to access the messages. The company wanted to determine if the employee violated privacy laws rather than to identify the source of the Fairfax Media story, a company spokesperson said.

Also read: Linus Australia Hacked

Vodafone Claims It Took Action

Vodafone said it dismissed several staffers for violating its security policies and denied allegations of improper behavior.

O’Brien was not aware of the hacking incident before News Limited published internal documents and said she was “absolutely outraged.”

Featured image from Oliver Hoffmann / Shutterstock.

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