Business telephone fraud on the rise

Justin Colyn, MTN Business Fixed Mobile Convergence General Manager

MTN Business is on an education drive to demistify the perception of  Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) Trunking fraud in the local market.

Currently the term is being associated with various fraudulent activities and MTN is committed to not only transparency, but ensuring that their customers and local market understand the dynamics of the industry and its associated services.

“Certainly fraud is occurring but what is important to note is that the fraudulent activity is directly associated with the PABX equipment that an organisation may be using, and not through SIP Trunking per se. In fact, PABX fraud often occurs when an organisation’s PABX system has been breached or compromised and is not effectively configured and controlled allowing access codes to be abused or used by unauthorised personal,” says Justin Colyn, MTN Business Fixed Mobile Convergence General Manager.

Statistics indicate that PBX fraud is on the rise and growing in volume and sophistication. Estimates of the annual losses from PBX fraud worldwide now range from $35-40 million. Often the cost to company associated with this type of fraud directly relates back to lengthy or international calls being made on the PABX system – ones that are being charged back to the organisation and in most cases are not picked up by the business.

“MTN Business certainly monitors our network of international call traffic and ensure that we alert our customers accordingly to any abnormal traffic load that could be due to potential PABX fraud,” says Colyn. “However, ultimately it is the responsibility of the organisation to monitor such potential security flaws in their PABX.”

To determine if your organisation is an unfortunate end-user of such PABX fraud, MTN Business recommends that you access the detailed records of the calls being made via your PABX systems and work closely with your PABX vendor in monitoring international call patterns. These records will indicate the calls that should not be taking place on your existing PABX.

Additionally, ensuring that your PABX is completely secure requires you to work with your vendor to configure and secure your PABX system, making sure that no gaps or bridges exist. Furthermore, it is always advisable to put international call limits in place in this regard, as the international calls are the ones that can create the largest risk for the business in terms of costs, as they are the most expensive.

Considering the change the market is experiencing, it is crucial for telecommunication providers to be transparent and provide customers with insight into the type of technology that will provide them with a longer business retention cycle as well as the possible risks and what to look out for.

“The fact is that high maintenance costs, fixed infrastructure restrictions coupled with utilisation and inflexibility concerns and now, security fraud, have fast eroded the benefits of the PABX – a traditionally purposeful product. As we aggressively move towards mobile convergence and cloud applications it becomes clear that the ‘traditional’ PABX no longer delivers the value and security required for growing businesses,” Colyn concluded.

Staff Writer


  1. Justin is correct, this is an increasing problem and not just for VoIP but for all lines. But there are solutions. Control Phreak is such a product that provides security against phreaking and will kill any call that attempts to break user defined rules. As well as being very cost effective (around US$500 including on-line installation and support) it is very easy for end users to manage their own PBX security. This is installed at many sites providing round the clock security and peace of mind for PBX owners and resellers, and is a serious weapon against this very nasty crime that can cause so much financial damage to their victims.

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