[ISN] County cell phone hacker not really a hacker afterall

From: InfoSec News (alerts@private)
Date: Wed Mar 28 2007 - 00:01:02 PST


The Times-Union
March 27, 2007

St. Johns County officials have determined just who was responsible for 
accessing and making changes to county commissioners' cell phone 

At first, they thought hackers were to blame and called in the FBI.

But the truth was more nefarious than teenagers with too much time on 
their hands.

More clandestine than Jack Bauer in hour 23.

More stealth than the guys in suits at Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

It was pencil pushers trying to save the county a few pennies here and 

Sources told The St. Augustine Record last week that a hacker got into 
the county's Nextel computer by using one of the commissioners' cell 
phone numbers.

Once inside, the intruder canceled e-mail and phone services for the 
commission and a handful of administrators and changed the passwords on 
some accounts, the newspaper reported.

But county officials said Monday an auditor hired by County Clerk of 
Courts Cheryl Strickland to look at ways the county could save money was 

A subcontractor working for the auditor had the mobile-to-mobile feature 
turned off. Cell phones were just one part of the cost-savings review, 
but instead of making a recommendation to cut off the phone service, 
someone working for the auditor simply shut it down.

The account that was affected was one of 24 groups of cell phone users 
the county has and was the one that is used by the county commissioners 
and some administrators.

"We felt that it would be best to go to the FBI," interim County Manager 
Wally Kropacek said. "They were even perplexed by it."

As the county started to backtrack, they discovered what happened.

"Everybody loves a good conspiracy but this [outcome] throws a little 
cold water on that," Kropacek said.

Visit the InfoSec News Security Bookstore

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.3 : Wed Mar 28 2007 - 00:08:46 PST