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Re: AT&T Home Security Plus

"George A. Gleason" <[email protected]> said:
>Somehow the discussion shifts to PGP vs. Clipper, and the caller asks if
>I've got a handle (I told him my email address, which was Really Dumb) and
>then he asks if I'm into pirating or anything... of course I'm not, and said
>Somewhere along the line I entirely forgot to ask how the hell he got any
>idea what block I lived on, since my residence address information is
>something I take great pains to protect.  
>And then it occurred to me... perhaps Something Else is also going on...?

The term "handle", as well as the fact that this person could say anything
even slightly knowledgeable about any computer related subject, points to
him being a hobbyist who frequents BBS's. ("Handle" is pretty much not
used in newsgroups, nor have I run into it on muds, but it is very widely
used in BBS circles.)

Telephone soliciting is generally a minimum wage job, although in high
price sales "professional" salespeople are used who get a commission. Even
if you assume a conspiracy of some sort, there isn't any reason for the
company to make a particular effort to use someone more knowledgeable for
cold calling.

The question about pirating probably arose because it has always been a
very frequent topic of conversation on BBS's. The caller himself might
be a pirate; that would be my first guess.

As for knowing your address, phone companies sell phone books that are
reverse-indexed by address. Companies use these for cold-calling because
they can pick out more affluent neighborhoods and skip e.g. ghetto areas
where a call might be a waste of time or even worse. Generally "taking
great pains" to protect information about your address doesn't guarantee
that you are successful; I've heard that some of these sales-tool phone
books have more information in them than is released to the public in
the usual phone books. Perhaps they cross-reference with mailing lists.

I could believe that there's a backdoor built into home security systems,
if I could figure out how they would make use of it. Sell the info to
organized crime for the purpose of burglary, perhaps? A little paranoid
considering you're talking about AT&T. How would they be able to implement
such a thing and still keep it secret? Or in cahoots with the FBI/CIA/NSA?
Doesn't make sense; if spooks want to get into someone's house, they can
do so in any number of ways, they needn't risk a large scale conspiracy,
which would only pay off on the very small percentage of homes that used
AT&T's system in particular.

And regardless of that, again, even if there's a conspiracy, there's
just no reason to let the phone solicitors in on it. All they need to
do is build a backdoor into the security system and then do everything
else aboveboard. Calling people up and hoping to catch someone in the
admission of being a pirate during a sales pitch is just ludicrous.