Home Phone Hacking For Fun and Amusement

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Derek J. Balling
Aug. 05, 2005 05:37 PM

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On this final day of OSCON, the only thing I well and truly wanted to see -- and had all week -- was Brian Aker's "How To Hack Your Home Phone System" presentation.

I'd certainly heard rumors about Aker's experimentation with Asterisk at home.. how if you dial "#666" you will transfer the current caller to the sound of screaming monkeys (and put their telephone number in a telemarketer blacklist so they can never ring through again)... how if you aren't on a pre-set list of phone numbers, there's absolutely no way you can make his phone ring from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Of course, those are certainly some of the cool features, but it does not come without its price. Brian's experimentations and configurations of Asterisk have been very much "shiny thing" driven, and have often left his wife understandably annoyed at how come the home phone system doesn't actually, say, work. (It was a steady part of the talk for him to point out "She uses her cell phone nowadays," and to point out that the subtitle of the talk was "50 Ways to Piss Off Your Lover.")

But the reality shone through: If you had the time to do it right, and were not prone to screwing around with it right before you left for five weeks of travel, a person could quite cheaply install a phone system in their home that rivaled the power of the average commercial enterprise's PBX system.

As I get ready to fly home tomorrow (and begin the process of moving into my girlfriend's house), I start to think "I wonder if when I transfer my line into the house, I should start to build something like this." Certainly by abusing my phone number instead of hers, I can avoid the "wrath of the significant other" while it's in the infant stages.. and when it's done, I can add her number to the system as well -- which would be good, since she runs a small business out of her home and the automated system would lend her an increased air of commercial street-cred.

I'm looking forward to my future forays into the world of VoIP hacking.

Derek J. Balling has been a Perl programmer and UNIX/Linux system administrator since 1996 and is currently employed as the Data Center Manager for Answers.com.