Keep your phones safe from malicious attacks

Keep your phones safe from malicious attacks

Interview with Stuart Buckley in February 2018 issue of Auto Retail Profit.

Keep your phones safe from malicious attacks




Hackers have found a new way to target companies, with sophisticated systems able to put your phone system out of action

The list of notable cyber-attacks in the last few years is notable, and growing all the time, with ‘Wannacry’, ‘Bad Rabbit’ and ‘NotPetya’ all causing havoc in various forms in recent times.

There might not yet be a name for it, but the hackers have a new method of attacking companies, and this time they are turning their attention to the phones. There are ways and means to totally knock a phone system over, and there is nothing you can do to stop it happening. The impact can be a day or two if you are lucky, or potentially much longer.   Check with your IT/phone team how they would deal with an attack of 20,000 calls an hour lasting for several days – they might just scratch their head and look very worried.

The attacker doesn’t need much to target you, either – just your phone number. They use methods to trick genuine people to call you by calling hundreds and thousands of unsuspecting numbers.  It only calls very quickly, ringing off before they get a chance to answer so it just registers as a missed call.

The people who are then called often react, either by calling the number back, or texting to ask “Who is this?” Because it is a landline, this can then result in the phone ringing, and the text message being read out by a computerised voice.

These systems can send out as many as 250,000 calls in a few days, which means a lot of annoyed people wondering who has called them. The first you know of it is when you start getting lots of calls coming in, which jams up your lines and prevents genuine customers from being able to get through. The other problem is the reputation damage – there is nothing you can do so you need to shut it down as soon as possible.

Although you can’t yet stop this from happening in the first place, there is something you can do to counter it.

Keep your numbers safe

1 Keep your numbers offline

Do not publish your actual phone numbers anywhere on the internet. That is the first thing that hackers will do – hunt out your number. If it is your number on the net, you can turn it off, but then you are damned again as you have lost your number – many companies might have a prestige number, so the loss is felt in many ways.

Add into this the time it takes to get back up and running – how long would you expect your main telecoms provider to take to replace your main number?

2  Use number overlays

Instead of putting your original numbers on the internet, use a third party to provide numbers for you – a call tracking company should be able to do so. You overlay a set of numbers over your original ones and that acts as a firewall.

3  Ditch the affected number

When choosing a call tracking company, pick one that is capable of immediately changing your number and moving the calls away. Some might take a few hours or a day.  Diagnosis is the bit that will take the time. We would switch on ‘Live’ and watch the calls coming in. I would narrow it down to the numbers that are being called, and in the time it takes to ask the question we can route the number away.  If you have multiple numbers, it also means that your customers are still able to get through to you.

There is no reason for hackers to do this, it is just malicious. There is no revenue, there is nothing they can gain from it. What are the chances of this happening? Hopefully it will never happen, but it has happened recently and can happen again.  Can you imagine your network without a firewall? If you have the protections in place then you don’t need to worry about it.