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Rogue diallers now use satellite

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The German site Dialerschutz (Dialler Protection) warns Internet users against new rogue diallers which connect through Emsat, Eutelsat's satellite system. Internet users have been faced with exceptionally high phone bills.

Emsat provides mobile telephony and data services to regions where terrestrial cellular networks have not yet penetrated.

Trojans and premium rate diallers which call out to expensive numbers in faraway countries are a well-established scam. They often come disguised as an ActiveX control that disconnects you from your ISP, then silences your modem and (re)dials a number, usually somewhere in Africa. Phone bills exceeding €1,000 are not unusual. In Germany phone fraudsters have raked in €300 per call. Since most phone companies share revenues with service providers, rogue diallers seem to make good money.

In the last fortnight new numbers have began to crop up such as 0088 213881 0510, 0088 213881 1225, and 0088 213881 1582. Calling these Emsat satellite numbers will set you back €3 per minute or more.

The odd thing is that nobody seems to know how rogue diallers make money from international satellite calls. Emsat isn't known to have a shared-revenue model. Some of the programs that dial out to Emsat originate from Dutch and Italian sites. Dutch watchdog STIC says it hasn't received any complaints yet about rogue diallers that use satellite communications.

One explanation for the change to satellite numbers could be a new law that was finalised by the German Ministry of Economy & Labour earlier this year. This bill requires transparent billing by providers of new web dialing services and also limits the per call charge to € 2 per minute (or €30 per call).

Meanwhile, Dialerschutz offers a couple of downloads to protect you from rogue callers. ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

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