Is your phone network secure?

SIOBHAN LEATHLEY
Last updated 05:00 29/01/2014

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Kinetics managing director Andrew Hunt knows the value of a good secure phone system. 

Because his business's old phone system did not plug into the network and was managed by a phone security firm, he assumed it was safe from hackers. 

It was not. 

Although the hackers were unable to access data they ranked up thousands of dollars in toll-calls from the business. It would have been far more if Vodafone's security had not immediately detected it. 

"It highlighted how necessary it is to have a modern, up-to-date phone system." 

The computer security company is now moving to an IT-based system which will be managed internally. 

Like many owners he had assumed his phone security provider was as diligently in protecting his business's security, as Kinetics was with its customers' security. 

"We'd paid someone to protect our data and I was furious they hadn't." 

Vodafone's head of Fraud & Risk, Rhys Metcalf, said any type of voicemail service secured by a PIN was a target.

"Call forwarding is a form of fraud that targets weak spots in a customer's PABX or voicemail system, and can lead to customers being billed for services they didn't use.

"By hacking into voicemail, offenders can set up call forwarding to make large volumes of international calls to high cost destinations in a very short space of time. In extreme cases, targeted businesses have incurred charges of up to $300,000."

Telecommunications Users Association (TUANZ) chief executive Paul Brislen, said it was up to owners to ensure their telephone networks were kept secure.

"It's highly expensive and it's becoming something we hear about almost on a weekly basis. Companies are left out of pocket and there's little the telcos can do to block it." 

Vodafone's tips for protecting your business:

1. Choose a strong password, which is regularly updated, and complicated PINs.

2. Make sure you update security features - passwords and PINS - following installation, upgrades and maintenance work on the system.

3. Remove or de-activate all unnecessary system functionality. Including remote access to your PABX or toll free service, as this makes it easier for hackers to access remotely. Also remove unwanted, surplus mailboxes until allocated to a specific user.

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- Fairfax Media

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