This is not our standard newsletter - that will be coming out in the next few weeks. And those of you who have been subscribers for a long time know that we rarely (if ever) send you anything but that newsletter, not wanting to clog your email box. But this is important.
This past holiday weekend, our office phone system was hacked into. Not our computers - our phones.
The good news is that the fraud divisions at both Sprint and AT&T caught the calls, putting a stop to them after 2 days.
The bad news is that once they halted our international service, the perpetrators likely started using some of the 10-10 services you see advertised all the time.
The worse news is that it is likely the extent of those long distance calls placed "from our phones" may be as much as $20,000.
The even worse news is that in at least the initial stage of this fight, the phone companies have said we are liable for those charges.
But that's not the worst of it.
The worst of it is that in those short 2 days, the calls placed from our system included a 16 hour call to Saudi Arabia, 6 and 8 hour calls to Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan etc. You can paint your own picture of who made these illegal calls, and we're pretty certain the FBI will make their guesses as well.
To all who are concerned about us, we have filed police reports and are reporting the "theft" to our insurance company and will be protesting the charges with the phone companies. But that's not why we're sending this alert.
We want you to protect your own systems!
These days, when virtually all of us are diligent about backing up our computers and getting the latest virus protections, few of us remember that modern office phone systems are computers. The more modern your office phone system, the more likely that it could provide easy access to outsiders if the system isn't well guarded.
If your office phone system allows you to access your voice mail from outside the office, there is a chance hackers might be able to access the system for their own purposes.
(We're talking about multi-line computerized office phone systems here, not a single phone in a home office. Some of you can stop sweating, while others should start sweating!)
So while we always encourage our clients and friends to make sure their computer systems are virus-proof and hack-proof, we now encourage you to call whoever services your office phone system, and make sure that system is hack-proof as well.
If you want some tips about how to protect your system, we have posted 2 pdf files from Sprint on how you can protect yourself. Even if you work out of your home, these are good tips to keep in mind. The files are at www.help4nonprofits.com/Newsletter/SpecialAlert0704/SpecialAlert0704-OnlineVersion.htm.
Again, for those new to our newsletter, this is NOT our standard newsletter - that will be coming soon. But given our new 20/20 hindsight, we just wanted to be sure to alert you to a problem we never even realized existed.
What a way to celebrate the 4th of July!
Hildy and Dimitri
Help 4 NonProfits & Tribes
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