Business falling victim to phone hackers

If criminals hack into your phone system, the first you may hear of it is when the massively inflated phone bill lands on your desk.

At least two Melbourne companies have had their phone systems hacked into by criminals in recent weeks.

The Camberwell Electrics Superstore and Swinburne University have both been hit with collective phone bills of more than $100,000 of overseas calls.

A Swinburne University spokeswoman said the university knew nothing of the scams until it received an $80,000 phone bill.

Camberwell Electrics’ accountant Chris Koh told The Age newspaper the company was alerted when Telstra called it to ask why they had made $20,000 in overseas calls in less than two weeks.

At least one Australian company every day falls victim to telephone hackers, who rack up an average bill of $78,000, David Stevens, managing director of Telecoms Security told the newspaper.

Australian Federal Police are reportedly working with their international counterparts to stop the scams, which are allegedly being carried out by overseas manufacturers of international phone cards commonly used by students and tourists to make cheap calls.

The phone card manufacturer hacks into the private automatic branch exchange (PABX), and card user’s calls are charged to the victim.

Swinburne University and Camberwell Electrics are fighting Telstra over the bills.

Phone hackers are just one type of scam companies need to be wary of. A recent survey of Australian small and medium sized business owners by online security software company Symantec found that 46% of businesses have been hit by an internet security threat such as a virus or phishing scam.

And the cost to business of internet security breaches is going up. According to the 2006 AusCERT computer crime and security survey, the average business suffered an annual loss of $241,500 due to electronic attack, computer crime or unauthorised computer access, up 63% from 2005.

For more on protecting yourself on internet fraud see Internet fraud could cost you thousands: Are you protected?


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