- Date: 14 April 2017
Believe it or not, voicemail hacking isn’t just a problem for celebrities or those in the public eye. In the wake of the 2014 phone hacking scandal that rocked the U.K., the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau took note of increased action against schools, charities, and medical practices by hackers seeking to hijack or steal voicemail messages and systems.
In a little over a year, hackers in the U.K. alone were able to access and utilize phone lines for malicious purposes, costing the victims more than $7.4 million USD. Despite advances in wireless security and VOiP technologies, security analysts say the problem often lies with uneducated users and inept information technology officials harboring lax password standards.
Toll fraud, or the act of hijacking the communications technology of small to medium-sized organizations in both the private and public sectors, is an even bigger problem. Hackers take advantage of lapses in security to access phone systems to make premium-rate calls or to conduct further fraud with the backing of an official phone number. Because these operations often occur outside of business hours where they may go otherwise unnoticed, victims are unaware of the activity until they receive their next bill. In 2014 alone, the cost of toll fraud exceeded $1 billion in the U.K. alone.
What can smaller organizations without the support of sophisticated information technology systems do to protect their communications from unauthorized use? With the following changes, you can secure your wireless phone or VOiP systems and prevent a stunning surprise on your next phone bill:
- Ensure your passwords are strong and regularly updated. While it’s common practice for people to use the same passwords for everything, it’s strongly advised to change voicemail passwords from the system default and to use a password security system like 1Password to ensure your credentials stay secure.
- Ask your provider to disable outbound calls outside of regular business hours and investigate any fraud protection services they may offer.
- Keep your phone, computer, and email systems patched and up-to-date.
- Review call logs on a regular basis.
- Ask your phone provider to disallow international or premium calls if your business strictly operates domestically.
- Consider moving your phone and voicemail system to a third-party solution with monitoring capabilities.
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