back to article PBX phone phreakers ring up huge bills in Oz

Phreakers are using security loopholes in PBX systems to make international calls at the expense of businesses in Western Australia. Telephone system hackers are exploiting the call forward function on older PBXs to make expensive international phone calls at virtually no cost to themselves, WA police warn. In one case a …


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  1. JohnG Silver badge

    Forgotten skills

    This was all the rage when I was young. I thought all the telephony hacking people had retired or moved on once modems and dialup were forgotten. Maybe the sale of VoIP minutes has made this interesting once more. I can only think of a couple of organisations for whom I have worked where there were people with the relevant skills to ensure that the PABX was maintained and correctly configured to avoid hacking.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    This is what happens...

    When companies refuse to pay the people they truly need what those people deserve, and instead hire IT drones that only know how to tech talk their way past the interview process, and have a lot of truly useless MS certifications that dazzle the empty headed. This problem is a world wide phenomena that doesn't appear to be ending any time soon, becuase a lot of business leaders believe managing employees are the only part of their job, they don't hire outside consultants with proven reputations, and have no clue what their IT people actually know or do. Security by faith alone is useless. People like me who care about knowing what they are doing have a hard time finding good work because the IT horde is full of people who cannot withstand being known to know nothing after hyping themselves up so much. If auto mechanics worked the same way, automobiles would never get fixed, just constantly replaced with new flashier versions mechanics know even less how to fix even if they even wanted to.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @This is what happens

    Regarding your comment about car mechanics, this has already happened.

    I've known many people in the motor trade over the years and seen them change from highly skilled MECHANICS that could diagnose and fix just about any fault given the time. Into TECHNICHIANS that can't find their own arseholes with both hands unless they've got a diagnostic terminal (computer) to do the hard bit for them.

  4. David Wilkinson

    Bad management ...

    It would be nice it the standard procedure would be for a new hire to be trained by a consultant when they will have responsibilities that fall outside their previous experience.

    Like if their resume shows not PBX experience, have someone come in and train them for a few days.

    A few days with a real expert is better than months with a stack of books and manuals.

  5. James O'Brien

    @@This is what happens

    I used to work on cars. I can still be within inches of a problem just by hearing the sound without physically digging into the guts to find out for sure. Got tired of burning myself, cutting myself, smashing my knuckles and being filthy day in and day out. Got tired of having to buy a specialized tool for a specific problem on a specific car for $250-300 and then never using it again. I ditched about $30k worth of tools when I got out for around $12k and never looked back seeing as I didnt want to be lugging 3 chests of stuff I would never use again around with me. As for saying that alot of them are "technicians" that cant find their assholes with both hands I find this to be true at the same time I find it to be false. Now a days you NEED to have the computer tell you where the problem is seeing as most cars built in the last 4 years have somewhere north of 6 computers in them monitoring and keeping an eye on things. Hell Ive seen one computer freak out and over rule the rest of them putting the car in limp home mode* permanently until it was replaced. *shrugs* just my 2 cents.

    *for those that dont know limp home mode prevents to car from getting higher then 2500rpm and going faster then 30mph to allow you to get home if all else fails. And said car was mine.....

    /Mines the one with the ASE certs in the pocket

  6. Inachu

    This is so bad.

    By "older hardware" this article means to say the PBX's in use are vintage 1995 or earlier systems or misconfigured all together.

    2600 meetings are pretty much useless nowadays.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @John G

    Where I was in college there was a well known fault at one BT exchange ( strowger era ) and dialling to that exchange and back to the local one bypassed the paybox on the phone. I wonder how much BT lost before they twigged what was going on? Anon for obvious reasons.

    And talking of bypassing boxes.....

  8. Richard North

    @ Groundrush

    If it helps, the arseholes are usually behind the door marked 'Manager'. ;-)

  9. Anonymous Coward

    I remember

    Bypassing the long distance call-bar on our old decatic work pabx.

    Tap tap tap, brrrrrrrrrrrrrr OK

  10. cor
    Paris Hilton

    @ Ground Rush

    What you write is sadly too true. I had an experience a few years ago with an 'Authorised Dealer' who charged 70 quid for *not* being able to diagnose a fault in my car. The "technician's" conclusion was that the engine and transmission were both knackered, repair/replacement would hurt to the tune of 10 grand. I had up to that moment not realised that 'knackered' was a technical term for : "I don't know how to operate the diagnostic tool, so I will never know what the issue is. However for forty grand you can buy a new car from us instead. That'll be 70 quid, thanks."

    Needles to say I left the premises rapidly, got a 'second opinion' from an experienced 'old hack'.

    He asked me to start the engine. He listened. He asked me to stop and start it again. He listened. Without even lifting the bonnet (hood), he diagnosed a faulty fuel injection pump.

    It cost me a replacement pump (three hundred quid+labour), but 260,000 km later it is still going like the clappers. I am still trying to get my 70 quid back from the high-tech 'Dealer'.

    Now I do my own diagnostics, or get a semi-retired mech to take a look.

    Wow, this is really going off topic...

    Paris, to bring it back on topic.

  11. g00p

    i'd like to know

    what PBX systems were affected.....

    ....i wonder if its a meridian opt. 11c...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    H323 is a fallback by default on CCME.

    Everybody (not stupid ones anyway) block outside SIP ports as a company policy however intruders retry using H323 even though it's not configured (ie doesn't show in sh run) and it connects just fine.

    Cleaned a competitors phone system last week...

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