'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

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

Bitdefender solutions stop attacks before they even begin! Get cybersecurity that 500 MILLION users already have and trust.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

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.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?