60 Minutes hacking

Ross Coultard presented a phone hacking story on 60 Minutes last night called ‘Bugged, Tracked and Hacked’. It sounded like terrifying viewing for anyone with a smartphone (everyone) but the story failed to live up to it’s sensational title. (Still better than Mike Willese’s Paleo puff piece on channel 7 though).

I watched it so that Mum would not have to. Mum still doesn’t know that facebook look around your bedroom from time to time and I’d prefer to keep it that way. She’s prone to over react about such things. ‘Let me watch the 60 Minutes story’ I told her ‘and I’ll alert you of any relevant details tomorrow’. There were none.

Ross Coultard’s story did illustrate the lack of privacy our phones expose us to… it just wasn’t very scary. It lacked a bad guy. The hackers; a fat Aussie bloke in Las Vegas, an unkept Italian guy working out of an empty warehouse in Berlin and a well dressed German fellow were all ‘good guys’ we were assured. All of them phone hacking maestros but well intentioned phone hacking maestros and they’re the best kind.

They walked Coultard through the ease with which our private information can be intercepted by anyone with an IMSI catcher (a small antenna that looks like something you would buy at Dick Smith). It turns your computer into a faux phone tower attracting information sent from mobile phones intended for proper phone towers. Setting up an IMSI catcher looks about as easy as modding a PS2 but the information hackers steal can be used to ‘bug, track and hack’ you.

60 Minutes organised a sting by way of demonstration but it was rather underwhelming: reporter Ross Coultard organises a phone call from resident political ‘rent a head’ Senator Nick Xenophon in Canberra while sitting next to Italian computer hacker Luka Moletti (the Italian guy). When Senator Xenophon’s call and text is placed, Moletti feverishly taps away at his keyboard (in the manner of Hugh Jackman’s character in Swordfish, whose computer genius takes the form of mashing the keyboard). Minutes later, Moletti produces an audio recording of the phone call and transcript of the text message. It may have been astonishing had Ross Coultard not been sitting next to him the whole time, phone in hand. Moletti might just as easily have read the text over Coultard’s shoulder. Where was their sense of theatre?

The story was worth telling but it would have had a far greater impact if the Italian computer hacker had been set a more interesting challenge. Why didn’t they make Shane Warne’s phone the target? The information on Warnie’s phone would have been of far greater public interest.

photo: 60 Minutes, Channel 9.

What did you make of the Phone hacking story on 60 Minutes last night? Leave a comment below…


  1. Kate
    • Jeff

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