Phreaking, toll or dial-through has been a hot topic of many emails, bill enclosures, website news stories and press releases sent out to our customers and prospects, but sometimes it takes a headline from a different source to make people sit up and take notice.
A recent BBC Radio 4 news story revealed that at least 40 UK businesses reported that their telephone systems had been hacked in March 2013 alone. The average loss per victim was £21,000 and the total cost to victims was a staggering £840,000 in one month.
The broadcast also featured an unfortunate victim who was hacked over the Easter holiday weekend to the tune of £15,000.
In warning messages issued by South West Communications Group in the past year, we also revealed the true example of one customer who lost £40,000 in a weekend. He asked us to send out more warning messages to prevent other unprotected and unaware customers from suffering the same fate.
In short, this is a serious issue and maybe the global platform of Radio 4 will convince people that this is something that needs attention rather than being ignored as another sales message.
For those not in the know, phreaking is an organised crime that sees hackers covertly access business telephone systems or PBXs, as they are known in the industry, and route calls to overseas destinations or premium numbers creating costly bills that can run into thousands.
We endeavour to reduce the risk of this type of fraud spiralling out of control by monitoring our customers’ lines for unusual call activity. We also have a range of fraud protection products and phreaking fraud insurance available to offer our customers further protection.
However, there are also simple measures that you can put in place to help defend yourself from this alarming crime:
- Use call barring against use of international & premium rate numbers
- Keep your system passwords secure and change them regularly
- Do not leave passwords as the default setting or use guessable codes
- Keep your system software up to date
- Use the lockdown feature on your telephone system out of hours
- Ensure your staff are properly trained on your telephone system
With the debate about phreaking fraud now picking up speed, hopefully more businesses will become aware of this crime and take action to prevent its devastating effects. If you don’t take our word for it, try Radio 4’s: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p017tvrf