Phone Hacking Video
Picture this: The office manager runs into your office, a look of pure panic on her face, an envelope in her hand. It’s your company phone bill. Someone has racked up thousands of dollars in charges calling the Psychic Hotline, thousands of dollars that you must now pay. You probably don’t have a psychic-loving employee wondering when he will meet his true love. Chances are, your phone system has been hacked.
Here’s how it works: Hackers, often from other countries, lease premium rate phone numbers, the kind often associated with sex chat or psychic phone lines—1-900 numbers here in the U.S. These numbers typically charge dialers up to a whopping $1 a minute. The hackers then break into your business phone system, often over a weekend to avoid detection, and make calls from your system to their premium number. They get a cut of the charges from every call.
Here’s the part that’s even scarier. Thanks to today’s high-speed computers, the hackers can make hundreds of calls to their premium numbers simultaneously, as many as 220 minutes’ worth of calls in a single minute. Do the math. According to the Communications Fraud Control Association, this type of scam cost victims nearly $4.73 billion globally last year, up nearly $1 billion since 2011.
While this type of fraud isn’t new, its popularity with hackers has exploded with the emergence of Voice-over-IP (VoiP) technology. There’s more bad news. Since IP phone systems often share the same data network as other IT systems, a phone system breach may also lead to a breach of other IT systems, and vice versa, which hackers are happy to exploit.
Because major carriers tend to have sophisticated fraud deterrent systems in place to catch hackers before they run up large bills at the carrier’s expense, and can afford to credit their customers for fraudulent charges, small businesses are more often the victims of phone system hacking. Small businesses often use local carriers which lack adequate antifraud systems.
What can you do? It’s not all doom and gloom. There are concrete steps your company can take to protect against phone system hacking. If your business does not use international calling, have your carrier turn off that capability. If you do need international or long distance calling, create passwords or specific account codes to authorize the use of the long-distance line. This is also done through your carrier.
Secure your passwords. All of them. This includes your mailboxes, users, system, configuration assistance, conference codes—all of them. Create a safe and secure Password Policy, including frequently changing your passwords, and creating safe passwords.
Finally, ensure that your internet router is configured for blocking unauthorized traffic. Don’t let the hackers win. Take these steps to secure your phone system, and hopefully your next psychic reading will be nothing but good news!