UK Teens Arrested For Terrorizing Terror Hotline
April 13, 2012

UK Teens Arrested For Terrorizing Terror Hotline

Brett Smith

U.K. police arrested two teenagers on Thursday evening for allegedly making hoax phone calls to a hotline set up to report suspicious terrorism-related activity. The arrests also appear to be linked to a series of hacker-recorded calls among staff manning the anti-terrorist hotline and the illicit callers.

The two males, ages 16 and 17, were arrested and taken into custody on suspicion of violating the country´s Malicious Communications Act and Computer Misuse Act. Their names were not released.

On Tuesday, a group called Team Poison posted audio of a phone call made to the anti-terrorist hotline. The caller who identifies himself as “Robert West” tells the operators that he has “terrorist” information and engages them in an adversarial conversation.

During the exchange the male caller claimed his brother was Ryan Cleary, an alleged member of the hacker collective Anonymous who was arrested in the U.K. last June on hacking-related charges. The call ends when a female operator tells the caller his information and the call itself are being referred to the FBI.

The group also claimed it staged a “phone bombing” attack that bombarded the hotline with hundreds of calls with the intent of jamming up the lines. The principle is similar to a distributed-denial-of-service attack typically used to shut down websites by using multiple networks of computers to access the same web site simultaneously.

On Wednesday, another Team Poison call was uploaded to YouTube with an official appearing to tell the caller, “You're constantly blocking our phones “¦ People cannot get through when you're constantly coming through here with your phone calls. Other people that need our help can't get through because you're constantly putting this Team Poison stuff on. It's just getting a bit tedious now."

A third Team Poison video on YouTube appears to be audio from an internal police phone call. In the recording the official says, “We have been subjected to a barrage of calls from a group called Team Poison. We have had about 700 calls over the last couple of nights. One of the conversations I had last night was leaked on YouTube. Everyone else calling was effectively shut out and could not through at all."

One theory on how the internal call could have been recorded is that the receiving handset was compromised during the phone-bombing operation by a phone hacking technique called Phreaking. Phone hacking by mechanical means, or phreaking, has been around in one form or another since as far back as the 1950s.

The Telegraph spoke to an alleged Team Poison member who said they had little difficulty tapping into the authorities´ phone system.

“It was very easy, they were using an old phone system which was vulnerable to a private phreaking method that we discovered,” he said.

The Metropolitan police claimed that hackers had not made the recording through their "internal systems", so the public could be confident of the hotline´s integrity. The incidents this week come a month after a different hacker group uploaded a YouTube video containing what it claimed was a recording of detectives from the FBI, Scotland Yard and other police forces.