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A hacker broke into a Homeland Security Department telephone system over the weekend and racked up about $12,000 in calls to the Middle East and Asia.
The hacker made more than 400 calls on a Federal Emergency Management Agency voicemail system in Emmitsburg, Md., on Saturday and Sunday, according to FEMA spokesman Tom Olshanski.
FEMA is part of Homeland Security, which in 2003 put out a warning about this very vulnerability.
The voicemail system is new and recently was installed. It is a Private Branch Exchange, or PBX, a traditional corporate phone network that is used in thousands of companies and government offices.
"In this case it's sort of embarrassing that it happened to FEMA themselves — FEMA being a child of DHS, with calls going to the Middle East," Johnson said.
Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, India and Yemen are among the countries calls were made to, Olshanski said. Most of the calls were about three minutes long, but some were as long as 10 minutes.
Sprint caught the fraud over the weekend and halted all outgoing long-distance calls from FEMA's National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg.