Vodafone Found Spy Software After Complaints

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ATHENS (Dow Jones) U.K. wireless operator Vodafone Group PLC (VOD) uncovered spy software on its central system in Greece after complaints from customers Greek Public Order Minister Yiorgos Voulgarakis said Thursday.

Early in 2005, users notified Vodafone they were experiencing difficulties in receiving messages and in making phone calls, Voulgarakis said.

Vodafone in Greece notified its U.K. parent, which sent an investigation team to Athens and found spying software was in place on Vodafone Greece's central system. The software was diverting telephone calls, being made to and from around 100 people, to 14 mobile telephony devices, Voulgarakis added.

Vodafone isolated the software and Vodafone Greece's Chief Executive Yiorgos Koronias informed the prime minister's office Mar. 10, Greek government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said.

Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras said half of the mobile telephony devices used to spy was activated between June and August 2004, immediately before the Athens Summer Olympic Games.

Earlier Thursday, the government said the mobile phones of Greek Prime Minister Costas Caramanlis and top government and security officials were tapped by unknown individuals during the Athens Olympics and for nearly a year.

"This was an isolated incident that was spotted in early 2005 and was immediately rectified," a Vodafone spokesman said.

He said the spyware could also have been used to attack a fixed line or rival mobile network. There have been no similar problems on any of its other networks across Europe since the Greek incident and the company can now easily spot similar breaches if they arise, he added.

Ericsson which supplied the main part of Vodafone's network in Greece, has found nothing that indicates faults or problems with its products, spokesman Peter Olofsson said.

He added Ericsson would assist the authorities in their investigation if requested.

Company Web site: http://www.vodafone.com

-By Paul Tugwell, Dow Jones Newswires; +30 210 331 2881; paul.tugwell@dowjones.com

(Magnus Hansson in Stockholm and Nick Fildes in London contributed to this report.)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires "

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