Customer Alert: Bell Atlantic Offers Security Tips for Voice Mail Users

Customer Alert: Bell Atlantic Offers Security
Tips for Voice Mail Users

Passwords Key to Protecting Privacy of Voice

May 21, 1999


Jim Smith,

NEW YORK -- Bell Atlantic today reminded voice mail users to make
sure their passwords are secure to protect the privacy of their messages.

The company issued the consumer alert in response to growing concerns
about voice mail hackers. Bell Atlantic has received a number of queries
recently regarding hackers' methods for abusing other customers' voice
mail services and features.

"Passwords are the voice mail user's most powerful tool for
protecting their privacy, keeping their mailboxes secure, and preventing
others from using their voice mail service to send messages to
others," said Richard McCusker, Bell Atlantic director -- consumer
messaging services. "It is essential that users of any voice mail
system understand how to maximize the power of their passwords.

"We know that hackers attempt to access voice mail by trying
simple passwords," he said. "That's why it's so important for
voice mail users to make it difficult for anyone to figure out their
password and to keep that password to themselves."

Once they have access to an active mailbox, hackers can erase or create
and send messages using the voice messaging service.

The company advises voice mail customers of Bell Atlantic and other
providers of voice mail services to follow these steps:

  • Create your own password to replace the temporary password
    provided by your voice mail provider when your voice mailbox is set up.
    Do this as soon as your service is established.

  • Select a password that is complex. Do not use your birth date, the
    last four digits of your phone number, your street address, your nickname
    or any other obvious number.

  • Use the maximum number of digits available for your password.
    The more numbers you use, the more difficult it will be for someone to
    guess your password.

  • Keep your password to yourself. Do not tell other people what it

  • If you have multiple mailboxes for other members of your
    household, each user should select his or her own password.

  • If you write down your password, make sure you keep it in a
    secure location. Do not write it near or on your phone.

  • Change your password periodically.

  • If someone has gotten into your voice mailbox, change your
    password right away. Then, immediately report the situation to your voice
    mail provider, whether that's Bell Atlantic or another provider of voice
    mail service.

Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and
information industry. With 43 million telephone access lines and nine
million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are
premier providers of advanced wireline voice and data services, market
leaders in wireless services and the world's largest publishers of directory
information. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the world's largest
investors in high-growth global communications markets, with operations
and investments in 23 countries.