Voicemail users, beware!

A Winnipeg, Canada, computer repair shop may be stuck with a (C)$52,359.59 long distance phone bill run up by a hacker who made hundreds of calls to Bulgaria between November 21 and December 9, 2008 on the company line. Shop proprietor Alan Davidson says his average monthly Manitoba Telecom System (MTS) long distance bill is around (C)$15.

As CTV News reported late last week, The hacker apparently gained access to the phone line of HUB Computer Solutions by calling the number and getting into the company’s carrier-provided voicemail system. Once the user’s voicemail administration password was cracked, the crook could dial out on the line to any destination, to his heart’s content.

Davidson says he’s talked to other small business owners who have been victimized in a similar fashion. However the telephone company says such incidents are rare.

MTS is insisting that Davidson pay the huge phone bill — or, at least, some part of it — but he’s resisting. He says he may have to lay off an employee or take other extreme mmeasures to satisfy MTS’s demands.

MTS says it’s agreed to negotiate the situation, “to come up with something that’s mutually agreeable, and to resolve the issue.“ However, Davidson said he had not received a reduced payment proposal from the telco as of last Friday.

Security experts say about all you can do to protect your voicemail system from abuse by hackers is to choose a really strong (hard to crack) administration password.

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