How easy is it for someone to hack your cell phone? - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

How easy is it for someone to hack your cell phone?

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(CBS 8) - The tabloid journalists at the center of the hacking scandal were able to retrieve voice mail messages by using default passwords. News 8 spoke to a private investigator to find out how to prevent strangers from hacking into your phone.

The hacking scandal in Great Britain has revealed just how easy it is to break into someone's voice mail. In many cases, all you need is the person's cell phone number.

Many cell phones come with a default password for voice mail, for example 1234. Is surprising how many cell phone users never change their default passwords.

"As an investigator, we do investigate situations where there has been a compromise of someone's email, voice mail, or data packages," private investigator Bill Garcia said.

Garcia says the best way to keep your voice mail private is to assign a new password and to never use the default code.

"Go in and put in a complex password that isn't easy for someone to crack and change it regularly," he said.

Another way hackers can gain access is called caller ID spoofing. It allows a user to trick your cell phone into thinking a phone call is coming from the cell phone itself, and frequently no password is required to access voice mail.

To prevent this sort of attack, you need to set your voice mail settings to always require a password, even when a call comes from the cell phone itself.

"Hacking into anybody else's technology is illegal, and the U.S. has some very strict standards and stiff penalties," Garcia said.

In the U.S., the penalties for hacking into voice mail are up to $10,000 for the first offense, and a maximum of $1 million for repeated violations.

In Britain, at least eight people have been arrested in the hacking investigation, and the biggest selling newspaper News of the World is now out of business.

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