back to article French Skyper freed after accidentally hacking bank's phone system

A Frenchman has been cleared of wrongdoing after a court accepted he accessed the Bank of France's internal telephone systems by accident. An unnamed 37-year-old Breton longed to avoid premium-rate calls while using Skype back in 2008, and set about hunting for a cheap-rate gateway number to the public networks. But he …


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  1. Ru
    Big Brother

    Lucky he wasn't in the UK

    Incautious use of a ../ in a URL can land you in serious trouble this side of the channel; no-one will stop to think about criminal intent when you ingage in that sort of nefarious actvity.

    1. cyberdemon Silver badge

      What? Really?

      I've not seen that one.. Do you have a link?

      1. M7S

        Re: What? Really?

        yes, really:

        1. Colin Millar

          Re: What? Really?

          A DTA is a bit more than incautious use of a "/" - you could hardly do it by mistake and his explanation doesn't stand up. Using a DTA might prove that a site is fatally insecure but it wouldn't shed any light on it being a phishing site.

  2. John McCallum

    Pass code?

    123456 is this for real? sounds like the default pass word

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pass code?

      It wasn't the pass code.

      It went like this:

      Unlucky guy dials wrong number.

      Wrong number (bank) picks up, but does not play any recording or anything else - unlucky guy gets just dead air.

      Unlucky guy, thinking he contacted the number he intended to dial, starts trying to get some response from it. So, he starts hitting keys - 1,2,3,4,5,6.

      Wrong number (bank), upon getting something that was NOT what it expected, panics and sounds the alarm.

      Owners of wrong number (bank) panic "OMFG WE IZ BEING HAX0RED!" and call cops.

      1. Tom 13

        Re: Unlucky guy dials...

        He wasn't unlucky, he was trying to get something for free, and hence got into trouble. More trouble than he bargained for, and for an overstated charge. Therefore he is now free. But he wasn't some dude just standing at the bus stop that the cops mistakenly picked up for something he didn't do.

    2. G2

      Re: Pass code?

      That's amazing, i know someone that has the same combination on his luggage:


      1. ledmil

        Re: Pass code?

        May the Schwartz be with you for that one. Have a Perriair on me :)

    3. P. Lee

      Re: Pass code?

      >123456 is this for real? sounds like the default pass word

      That's the number on my suitcase!

  3. sholby
    Thumb Up

    Fantastic byline

    J'aime beaucoup ce que vous faites... and all the more so because your French is a bit on the flawed (and funnier) side.

  4. Graham Marsden

    Remind me... change the combination on my luggage!

  5. Ubermensch

    Too Easy

    So the combination is... one, two, three, four, five,six? That's the stupidest combination I've ever heard in my life! That's the kind of thing an idiot would have on his luggage!

  6. banjomike

    Two years to arrest him ???

    I've know that the French phone system used to be appalling but it surely didn't take 2 years to trace the call.

    Did it?

    1. Valerion

      Re: Two years to arrest him ???

      Well they did have to stop for lunch.

  7. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    News Flash

    The bank of New Crappiton was not compromised today.

  8. nuked


    ...this is where the media got the technical insight into how to 'hack' a celeb phone.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    How is it an arrestable offense for dialing the wrong number? Really?! REALLY?

    If I was in charge of the bank, I'd shrug it off. It's akin to someone knocking on the door. Granted, he tried the number for access (similar to trying a key in the door), but as this is not a physical lock, mistakes are expected.

    Unless he did try numerous times, as that does show intent to defraud/hack. But a single attempt is akin to a kid walking up to an ATM and pressing a couple of numbers, then walking away. Should we send them off to the yard?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Er, he was trying to hack them?

      The guy's "defense" was that he was trying to find a low cost "gateway" number so he could make expensive calls at someone else's expense.

      He didn't dial a wrong number, he dialed lots of numbers and (no doubt) tried dumb passwords in lots of places before he successfully got dial-tone from bank using a dumb password.

      He wasn't trying to steal data or cash, he was trying to fraudulently make calls at other peoples expense.

      These hacks are very common, very expensive, and normally hit smaller companies.

      Should have been jailed for attempted fraud.

      1. David Barrett

        Re: Er, he was trying to hack them?

        No you missed the point what he was trying to do was find the geographical equivalent of a charged number (rather like in the UK calling the 017xx number rather than the 084xx number) nothing illegal, in fact some companies will give it out if asked.

        1. I think so I am?
          Thumb Up

          Re: Er, he was trying to hack them?

          My Bank gave me their local number because their 0845 wasn't part of my BT inclusive plan; I got charged for every call I made to them.

          I will stop banking with you was a pretty good motivator for them to give me the local number.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Er, he was trying to hack them?

        If that is the case, I take back what I said. But was he trying to find a freephone contact number (entirely legit use) or trying to piggyback off a freephone number (thus fraudulent)?

        If he was trying to get through someone else's phone system to chargeback to them, and call his mates, then lock him up. Without his 1 phone call too! ;)

  10. William Boyle

    The bank should pay

    The bank should not only be criminally liable for having such a hair-brained passcode for critical infrastructure, but they should pay the man back for ALL legal fees, for his time, and a BIG penalty for this fiasco!

    1. Danny 14

      Re: The bank should pay

      that will happen anyway if the judge threw the case out. The man now claims damages. It was a criminal case not civil.

  11. Martin 47

    Just sometimes it would be nice if people actually read and, possibly, understand the article before commenting.

    Not gonna happen is it?

    1. ravenviz Silver badge

      I was told in management training that in any meeting there is one misunderstanding per person, per hour. The same principle applies in forums, which tend to misunderstand misunderstanding rather than simply adjust the misunderstanding itself.


  12. JaitcH

    In the USA he would be labelled a terrorist and worse

    no doubt persuaded to plead guilty and gets off lightly with 50 years.

    US Federal sentences don't get time off for good behavior, either.

    At least France doesn't surrender it's own, unlike the UK.

    1. Smithson

      Re: At least France doesn't surrender it's own, unlike the UK

      Paris, 1940?

      Sorry, couldn't resist.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: At least France doesn't surrender it's own, unlike the UK

        Couldn't resist what, a completely irrelevant comment..?!

      2. ravenviz Silver badge

        Re: At least France doesn't surrender it's own, unlike the UK

        You forgot the Battle of Fishguard in 1797, you can use that to bolster your argument if you like.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: In the USA he would be labelled a terrorist and worse

      Do you have any justification for your knee-jerk rant, or are you just getting in the requisite "but but the US is worse!" ego-massage however you can?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just for a laugh

    I'm going to dial some random numbers and then move house. I can probably dial a lot of numbers in two years.

    1. ravenviz Silver badge

      Re: Just for a laugh

      When we were teenagers we used to dial '00' and then random numbers until we got through. Some childish hilarity would then ensue until our short attention spans expired! Without itemised bills, luckily for us parents never found out!

  14. John R. Macdonald

    Pass code


    The subtitle should read "C'est le plus merdique passcode dans le MONDE. Et l'espace"



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