Hackers Dialing Up Phone System Fraud¹

Hackers Dialing Up Phone System Fraud

The Internet phone sitting on your desk may look innocent enough, but the fact that it's connected to a network leaves your company vulnerable to hackers unless you take active steps to lock it down.

Companies of all sizes are increasingly being affected by toll fraud that takes advantage of the network capabilities of digital phone systems.

Unlike analog phones that were only connected to a carrier's equipment, digital phones using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) are actually small computers that, just like your laptop or other networked devices, are vulnerable to computer hackers and fraud.

In a growing number of instances, hackers are using automated tools and default passwords to identify and access networked business phone systems. Once they've accessed a phone system, the typical next step is dialing a series of calls to premium numbers, often in international destinations.

In most cases, the fraud typically remains undetected until the company's next bill arrives. The amount of each fraud incident varies, but losses in excess of $50,000 are common.

Compounding the loss, many phone companies are less willing to waive or reduce toll fraudÔÇÉrelated costs than they might have been in the past. Many smaller or local phone service providers purchase minutes from larger carriers, and are therefore more reluctant to negotiate with customers that have experienced fraud losses.

Locking the Digital Gate

Companies have to take a number of active steps to help reduce the potential for phone system fraud:

  • Work with your system vendor to change default network passwords.
  • If your company doesn't make international phone calls, turn off overseas dialing capabilities.
  • Check with your phone's manufacturer to see if any security updates or patches are available.
  • Consider upgrading older digital phones that lack security features.
  • Monitor bills and usage patterns carefully to detect unusual activity.

By paying attention to your phone system's features and calling patterns, you can take advantage of your VoIP system's benefits while reducing the associated security risks.