Phone-hackingRecent phone hacking scandals in the news has highlighted how encompassing the problem of hacking has become. This includes criminal activity such as hacking business telephone systems to initiate outbound calls to premium numbers. Known as ‘Phone Phreaking’, it is estimated to be costing UK businesses over £1b per year.

The UK is now in the top five “phreaking hotspots” in the world, making long-distance telecom fraud a serious, although dangerously underestimated problem for businesses large and small.

According to the latest research from The Communication Fraud Control Association the UK has joined Cuba, the Philippines, Lichtenstein and India where the biggest outbreaks are concentrated – with problems continuing to escalate.

The average cost to a victim of a UK phreaking attack is currently estimated at £10,000. The threat to businesses comes from highly organised criminal gangs with state-of-the-art equipment that they use to hook chains of compromised PBXs (Private branch exchanges, as used in most commercial settings large and small) to form their own networks. Once the hackers have gained access to a system it becomes open to abuse time after time until the fraud is detected, by which time the damage has been done and the victims have no option other than to pay for the often £10,000s worth of stolen calling hours to premium rate numbers.

Most businesses spend significant resources protecting and securing their networks and PCs from the external virus, hacker and spy attacks but leave their PABX network completely unsecured and defenceless — a bit like locking the front door then leaving the back door and all the windows in the building wide open.

Phreakers are constantly trawling for unsecured phone systems, modems and voicemail boxes and once they breach your phone system, you will pay for the illegal calls they make. Passwords on voicemail and PBX dial-up ports can be cracked in milliseconds by professional phreakers and software to do this is freely available on the Internet.

Just to make it clear – it is the responsibility of the owners, or maintainers, of the telephone system to make sure it cannot be hacked, if it is YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CALL CHARGES.

If you would like to secure your phone system from Phreakers, please contact Bellcom Communications for a free review and overview of your phone system.