The News Corp phone hacking scandals have had at least one semi-positive result: AT&T announced on Fridat that it will tighten the security of its voicemail system.

In a blog entitled "The Power to Password Protect", AT&T Chief Privacy Officer Bob Quinn announced that AT&T is turning password protection "on" by default for wireless subscribers. In this decision, AT&T joins such companies as Sprint Nextel, who has made password protection a default choice for some time.

Quinn explains that not requiring passwords was a convenience until " the wide availability of sophisticated telephone number spoofing technology that allows people to 'fake' the telephone number they are calling from."

Nowhere in the post does Quinn raise the specter of the News of the World scandals, in which victims and relatives of victims were put at risk (possibly even fatally) when their mobile phones' voice mail accounts were hacked into by employees of the UK tabloid News of the World using that same 'spoofing' technology. The scandal has affected the British government and the top levels of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp multinational alike.

The heightened attention on the scandals has also increased awareness of voice mail hacking and caller ID spoofing, with more than one tell-all article virtually instructing casual readers in the specifics.

"Some privacy advocates have called on companies like AT&T to go further and actually prohibit our customers from accessing voicemail unless they use a password. We are not going to go that far," Quinn writes. "We prefer to allow our subscribers to make the choice of whether or not they want to use a password themselves. But we are going to recommend to everyone that they choose the password option. Ultimately, whenever you get a new device, you will have to affirmatively choose to deactivate the Password Protect option."

On the other hand, Marguerite Reardon of CNET has cautioned that "Passwords alone won't protect your mobile voice mail" in a blog of the same name. Quoting security professionals and service providers alike, Reardon shows that a mere password can be bypassed fairly easily, and that a second or third level of authentication is virtually necessary to provide a minimum of safety against a motivated phone hacker.

James Lee Phillips is a Senior Writer & Research Analyst for IBG.com. With offices in Dallas, Las Vegas, and New York, & London, IBG is quickly becoming the leading expert in Internet Marketing, Local Search, SEO, Website Development and Reputation Management. More information can be found at www.ibg.com. Green Monster Solar offers renewable energy solutions from solar to the latest green technologies. Experience Green Monster today.