The press (and politicians) have really been getting swept up in this story about the easy availability of mobile phone records online -- though, we still think most have the story wrong. Pushed by the mobile operators and its lobbying organization, the story has been spun as somehow being the government's fault for not cracking down, rather than the operators fault for letting the data out in the first place. Cingular is the latest company to trumpet how it's gone after phone record sellers, again leaving out the part about them somehow leaking that data to the sellers in the first place. Wired News is one of the few publications to actually look at how that data gets out, and discovers it's usually done through social engineering -- the same trick we discussed nearly five years ago. In other words, this is nothing new, and the mobile operators have done extremely little to prevent the data leaks for many, many years, and are now pushing the government to clean up their mess. However, what was interesting to see is that many of the publications focusing in on what a big problem it is that phone records are easily available were the very same publications who a week ago were screaming for blood over the fact that a Sprint operator wouldn't reveal GPS info to parents whose car was stolen with their baby still inside. So, on the one hand, it's a situation where mobile operators are giving out info too easily, and on the other, they're being too careful. The reality of both cases, though, is that operators should have a standard protocol to follow -- and it appears that many are not trained to follow it properly, leading to problems in both directions.
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