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Hurricane Sandy's Wake Leaves Major Damage and VoIP Fraud


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December 10, 2012

Hurricane Sandy's Wake Leaves Major Damage and VoIP Fraud

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

The disaster that was Hurricane Sandy, which left behind damage to the tune of over $50 billion, also left behind an even less welcome development. Specifically, Hurricane Sandy not only brought out the worst in nature, it also brought out the worst in humanity as evidence of VoIP fraud has started to come to light.

Not surprisingly, in the days following Hurricane Sandy, several offices stood empty. In some cases they were without data service, some without power entirely, but some weren't damaged so much as they were unreachable. With power in place and working data connections and no one around to oversee the systems, it left a very big security hole in place, one that those that engage in fraud took full advantage of. Networks, of course, rapidly switched over to backup networks where they could, and this took a lot of the fraud potential out of play, but there were still plenty of incidents of attackers getting access to VoIP illegally, making several calls and running up some significant bills.

While no one ever really expects to have their networks accessed illegally and used to place illicit phone calls, it's the kind of thing that still has to be planned for. It may not be a hurricane that prompts the illegal access; it could be any of several different things from social engineering to a software-based assault, but the end result would be the same, and it might be disastrous. There are measures, however, that can be taken to protect against this kind of illegal access.

The idea of a disaster recovery plan is growing in prominence, and being adapted by an increasing number of companies. While disaster recovery can be as simple as preparing backup servers in a separate geographic location, or offering telecommuting capabilities to the employees so they can work from home -- or anywhere else that has working power and Internet access -- an important part that often goes unconsidered is fraud monitoring software. Several quality varieties of same come from TransNexus (News - Alert), including SDReporter and NexOSS, which provide a level of automated protection, complete with automated alerts. A fraud monitoring system in place can change the game sufficiently to protect systems while companies carry on with the heavy lifting of recovery.

Protecting the network is second nature to most companies; antivirus systems, security systems, and more are all basically standard practice. But protections for VoIP networks, a comparatively new technology, aren't quite so widespread. However, it's clear that they're no less valuable, as evidenced by the recent fraud some companies have had to endure. While no one wants to see another disaster like Hurricane Sandy ever again, hopefully disaster preparation -- including protection against fraud -- will be part of every company's roster in the future.

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Edited by Rich Steeves

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