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Saturday 18 November 2017

Mobile users urged to up security after hacking saga

Allison Bray

Allison Bray

MOBILE phone companies will text their customers in the coming days, advising them to change their security settings.

The public are being urged to change their settings in light of the 'News Of The World' phone hacking allegations.

02 and Vodafone customers will be getting text messages from the companies, advising them to change the PIN number which allows them to access their voicemail. They will get the same message when they dial 171 to retrieve messages.

Meteor, eMobile and 3 Mobile will also be sending their customers text messages, informing them of enhanced security settings.

Data Protection Commissioner Billy Hawkes said it was vital that mobile phone users in Ireland should follow their phone providers' advice in order to safeguard their own privacy.

Voice messages and phone settings could be accessed and changed remotely by third parties using a common default personal identity number (PIN) -- 0000 -- that was issued to millions of mobile phone customers in both Ireland and the UK.

However, Mr Hawkes said he was now satisfied that the companies here had acted responsibly to prevent this from happening in the future and that it was now up to the customers themselves to follow through.

"I am pleased that the mobile networks have shown real leadership in this area and have now all put in place -- or have committed to put in place in the coming days -- additional measures to assist their customers to protect the data on their phones," he said yesterday.

Password

"It is now important that the public follow the advice of their mobile provider and, where they have not already done so, take steps to either secure their voicemail and phones generally or improve upon the measures they may have already taken.

"At the end of this process, it will no longer be possible to access a person's voicemail using a default password."

Mr Hawkes added that he was happy that all mobile phone providers in Ireland had responded "in an exemplary fashion" to his request last week for them to enhance security settings.

Tommy McCabe, of the Irish Cellular Industry Association, also welcomed the move.

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