Internet users and business owners know very well the benefits of using Voice over Internet Protocol technology. Also known as VoIP, this is a very versatile virtual telephone service due to its low costs, a wide range of features, scalability, flexibility and efficacy. Despite all the advantages, VoIP systems can be compromised and present vulnerabilities that could be exploited by unscrupulous people.
About VoIP hacking
In a nutshell, hacking is the unauthorized access or control over a digital device or network. Hackers are motivated by data and financial gain, protest, spying or even just for fun. Hackers will use any type of attack to obtain whatever they are looking for.
VoIP telephony connections are made virtually and only work with a good broadband connection. Just like any other system connected to the Internet, this service could be vulnerable to cybercriminals that are seeking to infiltrate into VoIP infrastructure with the goal of extortion, commit fraud or even to compromise the system and steal business and personal sensitive information. Being a hacking victim is dangerous and could lead to significant monetary losses and even bankruptcy, depending on the severity of the attack.
Types of VoIP hacking
VoIP attacks can come in many diverse ways which will depend on what the hacker is trying to reach. These are the most common forms.
- UNAUTHORIZED USE – this attack uses a private VoIP telephony service to make phone calls and steal sensitive data. Hackers target internet users and business employees with phishing scams to gain access to VoIP telephony.
- SOCIAL ENGINEERING – in this type of attack, hackers manipulate psychologically and trick their victims by building relationships with them in such a way that they may think it is a genuine call.
- TOLL FRAUD – it happens when hackers infiltrate into the VoIP system and make a lot of international calls which generates an increase in bills.
- EAVESDROPPING – cyber-criminals are able to listen to unencrypted VoIP calls by attacking the device or the network in which the call was made. After that, hackers have access to any sort of information.
How to identify if a VoIP system has been hacked
Although some VoIP attacks can go unnoticed right off the bat, if users know how some of these attacks look and they check regularly their system and recognize some signs, they would be able to take action and even prevent it on time.
- EXPENSIVE BILLS – one of the biggest and attractive benefits that VoIP has to offer is its low costs. VoIP service bills are less expensive than traditional telephone bills, so if there is an excessive increase in the monthly bill, it is a clear sign that someone is committing toll fraud with that phone line.
- CALL HISTORY IRREGULARITIES – looking through the call history is a great way to find if a VoIP system is compromised. If there are inconsistencies and some calls that are not recognized, it is an indication that the system is under attack. Keeping a copy of calls can help users to recognize strange call patterns.
- FAKE ANTIVIRUS MESSAGES – since VoIP systems work with a broadband connection some notifications may appear over time. However, if fake antivirus messages start to constantly emerge, it means that someone is hacking the network. It is fundamental to notify the VoIP provider and get rid of any malware.
- WEBCAMS AND MICROPHONES TURNING ON – one of the advantages of VoIP is the possibility to use webcams and microphones, but hackers can use them to spy on their owners by recording conversations and gathering information. If those features start to operate strangely, a criminal has illegally entered into the network.
- REDIRECTED INTERNET SEARCHES – many VoIP users do internet searches while they are on a call. Searches get redirected to other sites when the system is compromised. Other signs to look for are extensions and toolbars added or installed in the browser without approval.
To stay safe, it is important to have basic security notions. Many of the precautions against VoIP hacking that must be taken are very basic and familiar to cyber security-aware users: use a two-step authentication process to control administrator access, know at least almost all the system’s vulnerabilities, being aware of the value and importance of secure passwords, be in a constant state of alert in order to act on any suspicious activity and create an action plan in case of suffering any attack form. Also, it is crucial to encrypt voice conversations, implement limits on calls and be sure that the VoIP system set up is correctly configured. Any preventive action taken, no matter how big or small it may be, means time and money well invested.
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