5 signs that your VoIP phone system has been hacked

Posted on: 2020-02-11 | Categories: VoIP Services

A lot of information in our lives is digital and online. From banking to gaming and shopping, all our data lives in a digitally connected and global world. It should come as no surprise that voice communication has also gone online. Thanks to VoIP phone system technology, most voice calls now travel over the internet instead of the PSTN.

But what does this mean for security? For better or worse, VoIP phone systems share the same benefits and drawbacks of any other IP based technology. Your email systems are vulnerable to spam, so is VoIP. Hackers can attack and compromise your networks, the same is true of VoIP.

Why VoIP security matters

The first thing you need to do is make sure to set up and configure your VoIP phone system correctly. If you do this step right, your system will not be as vulnerable. Early adopters of VoIP phone systems didn’t worry about security. But in 2020, security concerns are front and center for most organizations.

One reason is that VoIP phone systems are more popular today. When the technology was first developed, few people used it. Hackers concentrated on lucrative targets like websites and email systems. But with the vast majority of businesses switching to VoIP, phone systems are now attracting the wrong kind of attention.

Another important reason is that everyone is more aware of security breaches and their consequences. Major breaches make headlines every day. Customers are reluctant to trust enterprises with their data. A security attack can cause immense losses – in terms of revenue, lost sales, customer trust, and brand value.

Cloud VoIP vs Setting up your own

That being said, the benefit of using a reputed service provider is that you get peace of mind. Remember that you don’t have to do it all when it comes to VoIP security. A reliable partner who secures their system from attacks means your organization is safe as well. Very few small businesses have the expertise or financial resources to secure their phones. So it might be a good idea to choose hosted VoIP phone systems rather than setting up your own.

Security should not be an afterthought. It is much harder to secure any system after they have been set up and configured. It is easier and less expensive to set up a secure system in the first place. Implementing good security measures has an unexpected benefit as well. Hackers always search for weakly protected systems. They don’t want to waste time trying to penetrate a strong network.

By securing your phone systems, you are reducing the chances of becoming a victim of such a hacking attack. It also buys you the crucial few minutes you need to shut down your phones and prevent further damage. If you opt for buying cloud VoIP phone service, then make sure to select a provider with the required expertise and knowledge. Check their industry experience and track record before making a final decision.

Top 5 Signs of a VoIP hack

It is vital for companies to implement security measures that include VoIP phone systems as well. These systems are different from older analog phone lines. An important step to fighting back against attacks is to know when they happen. It sounds unbelievable but many organizations do not even know that their systems have been compromised until it is too late.

Read on to learn the top 5 signs that your VoIP system has been hacked.

A sudden increase in bills

5 signs that your VoIP phone system has been hacked

Remember when you first signed up for VoIP phone service? One of the benefits was supposed to be no surprises in your monthly phone bills. Your service provider promised that your bills would be consistent with the resources actually used during the month. So if you have not added any new lines or phone numbers, your bills should not change.

But if your system has been hacked, you are more than likely to see a sudden spike in bills. Financial gain is the primary motivation for most hackers. When they break into a vulnerable VoIP phone system, they start making unauthorized calls to premium-rate numbers. These calls will appear to be from a legitimate IP belonging to your company. So your vendor has no reason to doubt their authenticity if you don’t alert them.

That means you are on the hook for thousands of dollars worth of phone calls your employees didn’t make!

Irregularities in your call history

Any reputed VoIP phone service vendor will provide detailed call history logs. It’s not just for keeping records or audit purposes. Organizations analyze these call records to identify calling patterns, reduce costs or to make changes to their service plans.

Another reason for monitoring the call history is to detect irregularities and anomalies. For example, suppose your organization operates in three European countries. It means most of your calls should be within this geographic region. What does it mean if you see phone calls to some other country?

Unless you have started servicing customers in that location or have a new partner, there should be no reason for those calls. One or two calls might not be sufficient cause for concern, especially if you know there is a legitimate reason. But a pattern of calls to new locations with no discernable reason?
This is a simple sign that shows your VoIP phone system has been hacked.

Internet searches are redirected for no reason

One of the benefits of switching to VoIP technology is that phone calls travel over the same network used by other data like documents and email. But there is also a downside to this. While experts recommend segregating VoIP calls to their own network, most organizations do not do this. The reason is simple – it is often expensive to manage two networks at the same time.

Unfortunately, this also makes it easier for hackers to get into your VoIP phone system from other areas of your network. A sure sign that this has happened is if you start seeing internet searches being redirected for no reason. If your system administrator has not made any changes, there should be no reason for such incidents to occur.

If your employees inform you of redirected searches, it’s time to alert your service provider.

Users see pop-ups for anti-virus software

Nowadays almost all employees know how to spot malware, spyware, and other viruses. If users start seeing pop-ups for fake antivirus software, system scans or other so-called ‘alerts,’ it is likely to be malware.

Remember that just because your network has been hacked does not mean your VoIP phone system is also compromised. But it is highly likely and it is always better to err on the side of caution than to ignore the signs.

In fact, it’s a good idea to add a section on the VoIP phone system to your security awareness training. All users should know the signs of a hacked phone system. They should know what to do when such an incident happens. As with other systems, the document informs users about who to contact and how to handle compromised equipment.

Webcams and microphones activate automatically

One of the joys of any good VoIP phone system is flexibility. You can use any device to make and receive calls. As long as you have the necessary hardware you can also have impromptu conference calls with colleagues. Users just need a computer or other device with a webcam and microphone. You don’t need a separate conference bridge or add-on service. The entire process is quick, easy, and seamless.

Unfortunately, these small devices often have outdated firmware. They’re vulnerable to exploitation. Quite often manufacturers do not support them for long. It means you may not have the latest updates and patches to close security bugs. Hackers are able to exploit existing vulnerabilities and specifically target webcams and microphones.

If users notice webcams and microphones activate automatically and start recording conversations, it is a sure sign that your VoIP phone system is compromised. Consider the loss to your organization if sensitive information is overheard or recorded by unauthorized parties. Employees may talk about upcoming products, research ideas or other confidential matters in the office. Hackers can easily steal data by recording conversations from multiple hacked webcams and microphones.

What next?

Now that you know how to identify if your VoIP phone system has been hacked, what can you do about it? There are several steps you can take to minimize the chances of an attack happening in the first place. You can also implement measures to mitigate the consequences should you get hacked.

Keep an eye out for our next blog post on protecting your phone systems from hackers.

At VoIPstudio, we take great pride in our state-of-the-art security systems. Our developers implement multiple layers of security to mitigate hacking attacks. We will work with you to make sure your phones are protected. Sign up for a 30-day free trial today and check out our system yourself. No obligations or credit card needed!