Two teenagers have been arrested after hackers attacked Scotland Yard’s anti-terror hotline, eavesdropped on a conversation between officials and uploaded a recording to the internet.
The two males, aged 16 and 17, were cuffed in the West Midlands by cops from the Police Central e-Crime Unit. A Scotland Yard spokesman said the duo were been questioned on suspicion of breaching the Malicious Communications Act and Computer Misuse Act - the UK's main anti-hacking laws. No charges have been brought as of Friday morning, he added.
Hacktivist group TeaMp0isoN launched a phone-based denial-of-service (DOS) attack against the anti-terror hotline last weekend as part of a protest against the UK's controversial extradition laws.
Other hacktivists launched traffic-flooding assaults against the official website of the UK prime minister, number10.gov.uk, and the UK's Ministry of Justice at around the same time last Saturday as part of OpTrialAtHome.
TeaMp0isoN's phone-bombing exercise flooded the anti-terror hotline with bogus calls, preventing genuine callers from getting through. The hackers reportedly used a compromised PBX system in Malaysia to launch the attack, which persisted for around two days.
"The script is based on the Asterisk software and uses a SIP protocol to phone," a bod going by the handle of TriCk told Softpedia.
"Every time they picked up the phone the server would play a robot voice which said 'teamp0ison'."
Anti-terror hotline bods taunted
TriCk, a leading member of TeaMp0isoN, later phoned up the anti-terrorism hotline and made a prank call that taunted operatives about the phone-bombing exercise - then uploaded the results on YouTube. The group then exploited a "weakness" in the Scotland Yard’s phone system to record a conversation between officials discussing the phreaking incident.
"We have been subjected to a barrage of calls from a group called Team Poison," one person on the conversation can be heard to say, The Telegraph reports. "We have had about 700 calls over the last couple of nights."
TeaMp0isoN posted an extract of this chat on YouTube, raising questions about phone security within Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism unit.
The Metropolitan Police attempted to assuage these concerns on Thursday by issuing a statement insisting that the integrity of the confidential anti-terror hotline remained intact. How hackers managed to record what sounds like an internal conversation between two officials within Scotland Yard remains unclear.
The cops wrote:
We have throughout the day researched the allegation that the Anti-Terrorist Hotline had been ‘hacked’ and ‘activists’ claims that they were able to listen unrestricted to confidential communications.
We are confident the MPS communication systems have not been breached and remain, as they always have been, secure.
We are satisfied that any recording would have been made via the receiving handset only and not from an attack on internal systems.
The public can remain confident in the ability to communicate in confidence and that the integrity of the Anti-Terrorist Hotline remains in place.
In an interview broadcast on Sky News, Detonate - an alleged member of TeaMp0isoN - claimed that Scotland Yard's PBX was vulnerable.
"It was very easy, they were using an old phone system which was vulnerable to a private phreaking method that we discovered," he said, adding the the hack was carried out in protest against UK government plans to extend snooping powers as well as against its extradition laws.
It's not the first time law enforcement calls have been intercepted and leaked by hacktivists.
In February hackers published the recording of a conference call between the FBI and UK police in which the progress of cases against alleged cyber-criminals was discussed. Hackers listened into and recorded the call after obtaining the phone number to be used and the time of the call from a compromised email account belonging to one of the invited participants, who had set his corporate account to forward email to a personal account hackers had broken into. ®