If you live Uptown, odds are, you have not been phone hacked. The scandal that has engulfed Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., half of Britain and CNN star Piers Morgan has yet to have much of an impact in New York other than that felt by the firing of a few New York-based News Corp. executives and the bringing of one of the Upper East Side’s more rapacious residents face-to-face with a shaving cream pie. This has not kept his neighbors from fearing for their phones. Have you been phone hacked? is Uptown’s latest parlor game.
“It’s all anyone can talk about,” one high-powered real estate broker told the Transom after the scandal broke. “People are thinking of changing their numbers, and everyone has a password on their phones now. I had no idea how easy this was to do.” The broker was referring to the ability of many cell carriers to, with the right technology, call up someone’s voice mail as though they were the intended target’s phone, thereby granting access unless it is password protected. Some websites offer the service for as little as $10.
Another real estate executive told the Transom that, whether over cocktails or croutons, friends and acquaintances were all worried about the same thing. There is no reason yet to believe that, without rare exception, any of them has been hacked. Yes, Post reporters have been commanded to retain any possible evidence of wrongdoing, and technically Sienna Miller and Jude Law once called the city home, but otherwise no New Yorkers have yet turned up on the list of 4,000 alleged hackees. There are the reports that some families of 9/11 victims had been hacked, but News Corp. vociferously denies them. As for the anxieties of those living on Central Park, a News Corp. spokesman declined to comment.
After discussing phone hacking with the aforementioned real estate executive for a few minutes, he realized that two or three of his latest deals had found their way into the Post recently. He insisted that all the players never would have revealed the information, so he had been stumped as to the source of the leak, but now, he hoped, he feared, he had found it. “Maybe one of us was hacked?” he said.
One of the city’s top financiers relayed the worrisome tale of his wife, who had dialed into her voice mail recently only to find that a password had been set. Under normal circumstances, he said she would have ignored this, but given the circumstances, she dialed up AT&T—from the land line!—to make sure everything was all right. It was.