In a press conference held earlier this week, US Sen. Charles Schumer revealed that a phone hacking ring that targeted New York companies had been identified. Even worse, the criminal organization – which has caused damages of hundreds of thousands of dollars – appears to be linked to Al Qaeda.
“A phone hacking ring, with possible links to Al Qaeda, is targeting New York companies and costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars: it’s time for the telecom industry and the federal government to hang up on these criminals,” Schumer said.
The senator explains that the hackers have identified a vulnerability in voicemail system and they’re leveraging it to make long-distance calls that considerably inflate the targeted company’s phone bills.
Since the telecom industry in most cases doesn’t deploy any alerting and fraud prevention mechanisms, such malicious operations can carry on for days and even weeks.
In one instance, the attackers made 9,000 overseas calls, costing the affected company $150,000 (112,000 EUR).
The senator calls to the telecom industry and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take immediate steps to address such issues.
“The telecom industry and the Federal Communications Commission must do more to detect these fraudsters, to stop or prevent the deceptive charges as quickly as possible, and to protect small business owners from the financial impact. These criminals must be held accountable, and we need all hands on deck to protect Syracuse business owners,” Schumer added.
In the meantime, he provides some advice for companies. He recommends that they use strong passwords to secure their voicemail systems and to change them as often as possible.
Also, he advises organizations to check their recorded announcements often since in most cases, the fraudulent calls take place over the weekends and during the holidays.
Finally, they should also block international calls, and disable remote notification and call forwarding where not needed.