Can anyone explain this news story?

What the heck do they mean by phone hacking? Are they talking about turning it on and writing down the numbers? Regular cell phones or smart phones? I’ve heard cops can clone the sim cards of phones. But, that takes special equipment. I’ve never used a smart phone in my life and have no idea what kind of data is on it or how it can be hacked. All my Nokia cell has is a list of 15 phone contacts and nothing else.

How in the heck could phones of dead military personnel get hacked? Did the private detective take a trip to Afghanistan or something? Break into a base and a storage closet?

This news story makes no sense to me. What kind of voodoo magic did this detective have?

The Royal Family? Really??? Did he sneak into a castle or something?

Current Pit thread with some more info.

In summary, they accessed the voicemail boxes of the cell phones of the targets and listened to messages left by and for the targets. Sometimes, they deleted messages before the intended recipients were able to hear them.

Oh, so they literally weren’t hacking the physical phone?

Just voice mails left on a central system? A simple dialer program could easily generate random numbers to call and then check for voice mail accounts.

I was going nuts trying to imagine how this detective got his hands on all those phones.

You’re not alone in misunderstanding. Here in the UK lost of news reports have made it sound as though reporters were listening in to live conversations.

This also has been done, Prince Charles was on of the more famous victims.

It has also emerged that botnet virus are alleged to have been used to access the contents of private computors, though how this could be specifically targetted is not something I would know, unless it was done using hacked email accounts.

The accessing of personal mail and mobile phone message boxes is one thing, but to do this during an ongoing rape and murder investigation, and also deleteing some of the messages, this makes it serious stuff.

This article has a bit more on the technical side of what these reporters and their PIs were doing.