Think of phone hacking and you probably think of the on going investigations into some of the country’s biggest newspapers, what you may not think of is criminals hacking into the phone systems of businesses to illegally generate revenue but this type of hacking is actually the largest source of Fraud in the UK and costs UK businesses over £1 billion a year.
Once access has been gained to a company’s telecom network, this can be used to illegally route calls, either to international numbers or even to generate revenue from premium rate numbers, all at the expense of the hacked company.
Usually after the companies have closed (often at weekends or bank holidays to help avoid detection) the hackers have gained access to the network and called premium rate (09) and special rate (0871) numbers which they earn revenue from. In some cases this revenue is used to fund organised crime and terrorist activity.
A case in America that made it to court uncovered an international crime gang that had access to over 2,500 PBX’s and had illegally routed calls to the value of $55million dollars. Another case of note, and probably the most high profile UK victim to date was New Scotland Yard.
The average call charges faced by a company hit by this type of hacking was around £10,000 in 2011 but this has been rising with many cases now costing businesses £20,000 in a single weekend. Some companies have even been hit with bills for over £80,000. In all cases it is the responsibility of the affected business to pay these charges and to then try and reclaim them through insurance or legal proceedings.
As you can see by the figures above, phone hacking is a serious crime which is why Deep Blue has now launched Fraud Monitor. Fraud Monitor protects your business by monitoring call patterns for suspicious activity and sending alerts to take action if anything suspicious is found.
How does Fraud Monitor work? Our systems will automatically analyse your call records everyday looking for any deviations and if fraud is suspected we will contact you immediately and arrange outbound call barring to stop any further charges being generated. If we are unable to contact you then we will suspend the service until we can confirm that the line is once again secure.
What else can be done? In all cases we advise affected parties to notify the police as soon as the hack is brought to their attention. The called numbers should also be reported to Ofcom and Phonepay Plus.
As with computer hacking, there are measures to reduce the risk of being hit, however, as fast as these measures close one door, the hackers find ways to open another.
One of the common ways access is gained is through services such as voicemail which allow you to dial into a network externally, but there are simple steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of this happening. Ensure all ways of accessing your network are password protected (just as you would put a password on your wireless internet network), change these passwords often, don’t share passwords, make passwords as long and complicated as possible (many hackers have sophisticated methods that can crack passwords 16 digits long) and keep all access codes secure (some victims had calls from individuals claiming to be from telephone companies asking for codes to do work on the network or to update their security).
It is also worth considering what kinds of calls you make; does your business need to be able to call premium rate or international numbers? If not, consider call barring features so if your network was compromised, it would be harder for extensive call charges to be built up.
If phone hacking is something you are concerned about or if you would like to discuss this further, please contact Rachel on 0333 240 9100 or at firstname.lastname@example.org