31 January 2018
Phone fraud affects all businesses. But small and medium-sized organisations are especially at risk. A phone system is essential to providing good customer service, so how do businesses reap the benefits whilst minimising any risk?
Every year, SME’s reportedly lose more than £9bn to fraudsters, as a smaller and more informal communication environment can mean gaps in security are more likely to occur. As a result, phone systems can be at the mercy of hackers unless the right precautions are taken.
It’s not always easy to tell when a phone scam is a scam. But being aware and following these tips can help keep you one step ahead of the criminals.
Vishing – or voice phishing – involves fraudsters cold-calling your staff while pretending to be someone else. The intention is often to obtain usernames, passwords and personal details, anything to gain full access to your customers’ accounts. Train your staff so that they’re aware of such tactics and know how to escalate security concerns when necessary.
For phone networks that rely on an internet connection, a password is as crucial as any other connected device. Without the right security set up, criminals can easily hack into your phone infrastructure. Handsets, smart devices and web portals should all be treated with the same level of care. Make sure employees log out when they’re finished for the day, and that phone systems are always logged out over weekends or holidays. And be sure to change the password from any default passwords given.
Phone fraud can extend to your network as well. Fixed line fraud involves criminals hacking into your equipment and using your system to make calls to a premium number that are then charged to your account. They make money off these numbers, leaving you to foot an expensive bill. Combatting this will often require an upgrade in firmware, disabling remote voicemail access or closing all external ports on your router.
Monitoring tools can provide system admins with usage alerts for suspicious actions. This may be external hackers racking up premium rate call charges or staff simply using the system for personal use on premium rate numbers. Reporting will help to stem these issues, but choosing a provider who can cap spending at a pre-agreed amount can stop them entirely.
Your remote support can run security checks on your system and alert you to any anomalies in real-time. This can involve alerts for excessive usage, or activity when your office is closed, for instance.
The phone remains an essential business communication tool – and will continue to be well into the future. But as long as phones exist, so will criminals hoping to scam businesses out of their money using phone systems.
All organisations must work to overcome these risks and ensure their core comms infrastructure is secure. Understanding the risks and following the steps above will help you stay protected.
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