Monday, January 26, 2009

Firms Face Giant Phone Bills After Voicemail Hacked

A Canadian Press article, via The Globe and Mail, reports that:

Businesses are crying foul after receiving sky-high phone bills that charged them upwards of $200,000 because hackers broke into their voice mail system and hijacked it to make long-distance calls.

While a spokeswoman for Bell Canada says the bills have been reduced by the phone company, the businesses insist they shouldn't be forced to pay for any of the illicit calls.

Martin & Hillyer, a law firm based in Burlington, Ont., says it has been hacked and is battling to erase a bill that includes charges worth more than $207,000 in calls to Sierra Leone in western Africa.

The law firm isn't alone, but Bell Canada spokeswoman Julie Smithers calls the situation "really rare" and a "very old scam" that affects primarily business customers, although she said some residential consumers have been caught.

More here.


At Mon Feb 02, 06:59:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the case of the Law Firm, I know someone who works at the firm and I was told that the phone system was purchased from Bell and Bell outsourced the install to Nortel. The firm actually paid for a Bell representative to attend the office and train all of the staff and assit with voicemail set up. The system was set by the Bell Rep so that each user is prompted every 90 days to change their password. The passwords used were as difficult and random as a 4 digit password allows. Passwords were changed frequently and mailboxes were deleted when employees left the firm. Bell is trying to make it look like the problem is that the users are idiots and they did not take measures to protect thier systems, but this was not the case. Bell is trying to scam us again! They are trying to get us all to believe that the reason these people have a $207,000 phone bill is because they used simple passwords that someone could guess. The fact is that the police have said it does not matter what passwords you use, the fraudsters use a computer program that runs every number until it gets in. Bell has known about this problem for many years, but have gotten away with pressuring people into paying because they make the phone user believe it is their own fault and people feel embarrassed and stupid. Bell offers the phone user a reduction as a goodwill gesture and the average person thinks "I had better just pay the reduced rate, because I don't have the means to fight the phone company". Let's face it, one of the companies that has been hacked into is a computer company in Toronto. If a computer company, who knows all about the importance of security, can be hacked into, anyone is vunerable and it just doesn't matter what measures we take . . . Bell has failed to take measures to protect the consumer. They have not taken measures to develop better security to reduce or stop the fraud from happening, they have not taken measures to develop better software to monitor ususual activity on thier lines and they have not brought the serious reality and extent of the fraudulant activities to the forefront so that the consumer is aware of how vulnerable they are. This is why Bell is now "blowing smoke" and trying to make us all think that the people this has happened to are stupid and deserve it. Bell has a duty to protect the consumer!


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