Now, Big Brother Can Listen From A Hung Up Phone

It's hardly a secret that phone taps are a favorite ploy of industrial spies as well as law-enforcement agencies. What isn't well-known is that the phone doesn't even have to be off the hook to be tapped. It's possible to activate a hung-up phone remotely and use it to eavesdrop. This techno-trick recently came to light as a result of a drug dealer's court case in the Netherlands--but it is said that the technique will work on virtually any phone anywhere.

At first, Dutch officials denied that it was possible to hear anything this way. But then, the editor of Hack-Tic, a local computer hacker's publication, demonstrated the feat on Dutch TV, using off-the-shelf electronics gear costing less than $100. Fortunately, such eavesdropping can be defeated easily by adding a capacitor to block the signal that activates the handset's microphone. The Dutch telephone company quickly rushed to market with a plug-in gadget for less than $5 that does the job.

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