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PBX phone phreakers ring up huge bills in Oz

Security loophole allows bad nattering

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Phreakers are using security loopholes in PBX systems to make international calls at the expense of businesses in Western Australia.

Telephone system hackers are exploiting the call forward function on older PBXs to make expensive international phone calls at virtually no cost to themselves, WA police warn. In one case a internet-based PBX system in Perth was used to make 11,000 international calls in the space of 46 hours.

The firm only became aware of the attack after a A$120,000 bill landed on their doorstep. Det Sgt Jamie McDonald told The WestAustralian that smaller businesses were being targeted in the ongoing attacks.

McDonald urged firms to take appropriate security precautions. “Most businesses are prepared to install firewalls on their computers but fail to extend that level of security to their phone systems,” he said.

Phone phreaking is a far less publicised crime than computer hacking, but the results can be even more costly to victims than a virus infection or hacker attack, as the West Australian case illustrates. Cybercrooks typically sell access to compromised systems through underground forums. ®

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