'Apprentice' hacker rings up large phone bill

An "apprentice" hacker broke into the PABX system of John James Hospital in Canberra last week and made more than $5000 worth of international calls.

The calls, made primarily to South America and the Asia/Pacific region between Wednesday March 22 and Thursday March 23, were stopped only when a Telstra account executive called the hospital's administrators to notify them of the irregular long-distance calls. Consequently service from the PABX was barred.

Director of finance and corporate services at John James Hospital, Tina Dewis, said the police and internal IT staff were able to sift through the telephone logs to discover that someone had hacked into the system, sussed out the four-digit passwords and made the calls.

"I am glad our account manager picked up the [call pattern] because we usually wait for bill to arrive ... apparently someone started making calls at 1am Tues until the ban was placed on the PABX on Wednesday afternoon," Dewis said.

"The stuff our internal IT guy does is fairly ordinary and his eyes glazed over when he got the chance to put his expertise to use. We now have removed the ability to dial into the PABX, turning the modem off and removing numerous functions.

"The information we have received from our hardware people is that it was not done by a hardcore hacker but a hacker in training. I guess that's what they do to try different things out and get their confidence up as they have gone in and played around and have not done any other damage apart from the financial impact."

Dewis said dial-in attempts are still being made to the affected number, leading her to consider whoever has the original PABX number is still attempting to defraud the hospital.

An ACT Police spokesman said it was the first big attack of its kind in Canberra this year.

John James Hospital will lodge a formal report to police when they receive a situation report from Telstra. Dewis said the hospital doesn't hold a lot of hope the attackers can be traced.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Crawford

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?