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Why is the Congo calling me on Melbourne Cup Day?

22 Nov 2018

Answer: Phone Hacking.

Phone Hacking or PBX Fraud happens when your company’s phone system is accessed by outsiders (fraudulently) who then route overseas calls through your lines – running up huge international call costs in the process.

Fraudsters know when businesses are likely to be closed (e.g: during the Melbourne Cup in my case) and expect their calls to be answered by answer phones or fax machines – both of which can be hacked. Most hacking seems to occur on long weekends or public holidays allowing the fraudsters to continue undisturbed for many days and nights.

There are two ways that Hackers make money, most commonly they are selling international calls in foreign markets that are then routed through the victim’s phone lines (e.g: Long Distance Phone cards). Alternatively they use your hardware to call Premium 1800 numbers that they own in foreign countries (often in Africa / Russia / Eastern Europe), earning them income from you, the premium caller.

There are various measures that your can take to protect your company’s phone system as we head towards the holiday season:

1) Ask your Account Manager to block outgoing international calls on all of your lines.

2) Update your passwords to ensure that there are no default ‘000’ passwords on the voicemail system.

3) Ensure you are not using the default PABX admin password.

4) Enable ‘restrict after hours calls’ if you have the function.

5) Review your bill regularly to ensure no suspicious activity.

6) Check your insurance policy – I know of one canny client who claimed over $15k back under their theft insurance. (They were also quick to report the hack to local police).

And if none of the above measures suits your needs – I’d recommend that you take the ultimate step and upgrade to a Cloud PBX system, it’s cheaper to run and with one huge advantage – there is no on-premise hardware to hack.

Comsource Cloud PBX systems are hosted at a Equinix’s Syndey 3 data centre, also used by Australian Government law enforcement.

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