This is rather old fashioned isn’t it?

In an interesting turn of events, a 19-year-old villager named Himalaya Mohanty from Odisha hacked into a Hyderabad-based company, causing a loss of Rs 60 lakh.

According to a report by The Times of India, a native of Shibapura village in Balasore district managed to hack the EPABX toll-free number of Lloyd Electricals and Engineering Ltd using his 3-inch mobile phone, and later, uploaded the code along with the toll-free number of Lloyd on a website. This hack allowed him to make free calls via toll-free number.

Wasn’t that the origin of hacking itself, that 30 or 40 years ago? Hacking the telephone exchanges to get free calls?

23 thoughts on “This is rather old fashioned isn’t it?”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    How much money is 600,000 rupees? Would I have any change from a cup of coffee, a danish and a copy of the Times?

    But I guess Himalaya is in a big heap of trouble.

  2. Hacking used to have a much wider meaning than it does these days, including any clever trick. (The use of “life hacks” in the US seems to reflect this older meaning.) Hacking telephone exchanges was a sub-type of hacking called phreaking.

  3. I suppose it was. As students 45 years ago we knew tricks to make the phone work as a local call over a long distance.
    Told each other that it was not fraud because legally you cannot cheat a machine.

  4. Told each other that it was not fraud because legally you cannot cheat a machine.

    Bore on …

    Technically correct (something that was one of the things cleared up in the Fraud Act 2006) – the Theft Act 1978 offence was “obtaining a service by deception” and the legal argument was that you cannot deceive, rather than “cheat”, a machine, only “another … person”.

    Interestingly, also not theft (no intent to permanently deprive the phone company of any property.) However, iirc, originally prosecuted as “dishonest abstraction of electricity”, until the Communications Act 2003 introduced the offence of “dishonestly obtaining electronic communications services.”

  5. The Inimitable Steve

    Back in the far off olden days of phone phreaking, the telephone exchanges were electromechanical so could be easily hacked with simple tone generators or even a whistle.

    Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak’s first business venture was selling blue boxes that let you make free phone calls.

  6. Any one else remember making free calls from phone boxes by tapping the number out on the handset rest?
    Those were the days!

  7. When I was in boarding school we had a domestic payphone (as opposed to the bomb-proof BT ones) installed in the Houses. One year – would have been about 1994 or 1995 – Hong Kong introduced a system where subscribers could purchase a device which latched onto the receiver and sent some sort of code to the phone allowing them to make free calls from public phones. The lads from Hong Kong brought these things back to England and set about making 5 hour phone calls to Hong Kong from the House payphones. The bills got to several thousand quid before they were hauled in front of the Housemasters.

  8. So Much For Subtlety

    Tim Newman – “The bills got to several thousand quid before they were hauled in front of the Housemasters.”

    Someone squealed? How did the Housemasters know?

    Several thousand pounds is also what Mr Himalaya cost the phone company. 600,000 rupees being about £6000. So I guess they are not making a mountain out of a molehill.

  9. The Meissen Bison

    So Much For Subtlety: How much money is 600,000 rupees? Would I have any change from a cup of coffee, a danish and a copy of the Times?

    Well a lakh is 100,000 giving you Rs6m which is a whisker over £60,000 – so probably yes.

  10. So Much For Subtlety

    The Meissen Bison – “Well a lakh is 100,000 giving you Rs6m which is a whisker over £60,000 – so probably yes.”

    I thought a lakh was 10,000? That’s what you get for not paying attention.

    Still. I have very expensive tastes in pastries and coffee, so I am not so sure about the change.

  11. I used to have a Psion 3a that generated touchtones. It could be used on certain payphones, but not all.

  12. The Pedant-General

    “Someone squealed? How did the Housemasters know?”

    Because the phone company would have noticed that there wasn’t £n,000 in the collection box when they came round to empty it.

    Possibly… And knowing the shambles that exists in most telecoms companies billing departments, that is only a “possibly”

  13. @BiS… Ah, indeed ’twas the good old days. Once you’d mastered the speed and rhythm of tapping the handset rest you could phone anywhere for nowt. 🙂

    Remember always pressing “Button B” on entering the phone box just in case someone had forgotten? 4d, untold riches!!

  14. Someone squealed? How did the Housemasters know?

    Housemasters might have sometimes been jumped-up sadistic dwarfs, but they were not altogether stupid. Seeing a bill of thousands of pounds, no money in the box, and a pupil from Hong Kong permanently attached to the phone might have given them an idea.

  15. Housemasters might have sometimes been jumped-up sadistic dwarfs, but they were not altogether stupid…

    Posh school you went to, TimN, dead posh.

  16. A pendant writes;

    A lakh is 100,000 and a crore is 100 lakhs (10 million). Traditional papers may write 1 crore as 1,00,00,000. I’ve no idea why this irregular counting system was adopted.

    So the Indian version of “Who wants to be a millionaire?” is called “Kaun Banega Crorepati” as featured on “Slumdog Millionaire”.

    We now return you to our regular blogging …

  17. Bloke in Costa Rica

    What this really points out is how backwards is the idea of charging for calls. There used to be an actual physical cost associated with making the connection, but now the amortised cost per minute is essentially zero. Telcos should be charging for service provision, not metering usage. Still, blagging 90 thousand bucks off one of ’em is definitely going to land Sunny Jim here head first in a big barrel of shit.

  18. When I was at uni we discovered one of the payphones had a broken lid on the connection box. A spare phone and two crocadile clips later… 🙂

  19. Telcos should be charging for service provision, not metering usage.

    Although you’re technically correct, BiCR, if telcos made no charge for unlimited calls, a few dickheads would spend 24×7 on the phone, and a sufficient number of dickheads will block the service for everyone else (even the capacity of the Internet is not infinite). This is even more the case with data – the ISP forums are full of people moaning that: “I was sold an unlimited service, but after I downloaded 3 TB of old Star Trek episodes, the bastards threatened to restrict my data rate”.

    As was pointed out nearly a decade ago:
    The problem is that the current ISP model is like an all you can eat buffet, where one in 10 customers eats all the food, one in 100 takes his chair home too, and one in 1,000 unscrews all the fixtures and fittings and loads them into a van as well.

  20. Bloke in Costa Rica

    I don’t see any problem with usage caps (as long as they’re big enough) but usage charges are ripe for abolition.

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