Sidney businesses targeted

Long distance phone charges are haunting at least one local business, and Sidney North Saanich RCMP are investigating.

Long distance phone charges are haunting at least one local business, and Sidney North Saanich RCMP are investigating.

Thieves compromised computer-based, business telephone directories — Private Branch Exchange or PBX — that use internet and computer systems to manage multiple phone lines in a business. A local business recently had its system compromised and about $4,000 worth of charges were made since May 30, RCMP said. Police found methods on how to compromise the system are available on the internet, most commonly by hacking the computer and gaining administrative access using the manufacturer’s default password.

Businesses are being targeted outside of business hours, so that lines in use go unnoticed. Often, the calls are made to overseas mobile numbers and rates are higher than if the call had been made from a regular land line. Tracing the origin of the fraud can be difficult.

Businesses using PBX systems should ensure their default factory password is changed. Access passwords should also be regularly changed, and be complex, such as using upper and lower case letters.