Abilene BBB warns of phone system hacking
June 22, 2016
Shah Sheikh (1172 articles)
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Abilene BBB warns of phone system hacking

At least two Abilene businesses have had their phone systems hacked, according to Better Business Bureau President Steve Abel, a warning shot for other entities that use such voice mail systems.

“A phone hacking scam is a form of fraud that occurs when hackers break into a company’s voice mail system and rig it to either accept collect calls or place outgoing calls to international phone numbers — usually running up thousands of dollars on the business’s phone bill before they’re stopped,” Abel said Tuesday in an email.

Hackers call into a company’s voice mail system and search for voice mailboxes that still have the default passwords active — or have easily guessed combinations, such as 1-2-3-4, he said.

“Once he’s ‘in,’ the hacker will change the voice mailbox’s outgoing greeting,” he said.

An example would be: “Yes, operator, I will accept the charges,” Abel said.

Hackers then will make a collect call to the number just compromised, he said.

When the automated operator “hears” the voice on the other end of the phone apparently accepting the charges, the call is connected.

“The hacker then uses this connection for long periods of time to make other international calls, usually on holiday periods or weekends,” Abel said.

Phone systems that allow users to forward calls or messages to another phone number also are vulnerable because the hacker can program the phone to forward calls to an international number, he said.

“Then, Mr. Hacker is able to call all of his scammer friends in other countries on someone else’s dime,” he said.

To protect a company’s phone system, default passwords should be changed as soon as possible and replaced with strong passwords. Do not use 1-2-3-4 or your extension number.

Next, turn off any unused or unmonitored extensions or phone numbers, then check your outgoing message regularly to ensure that it’s really your message.

Contact your phone provider and ask it to restrict international calls, calls to premium phone numbers, collect calls and calls made outside normal business hours.

“Also consider disabling features like call forwarding if they’re not being used,” Abel said.

Finally, ask your provider if it has any more advice on how to make your phone system more secure.

Source | ReporterNews