You know to protect your dealership computer system from hackers, but what about your phone system? Phone hacking is common and often overlooked until you get hit with fraudulent charges. According to the Communications Fraud Control Association, phone fraud costs companies over $4 billion each year. The majority of that cost is due to toll fraud; when hackers use your phone numbers to make toll calls across the world.


An equally crucial concern for dealerships is hackers who break in to steal sensitive customer information. This includes social security and credit card numbers. A hacker who has access to your phone system can easily tap lines and access call recordings to get this information. The damage to your reputation and potential government censure – along with possible loss of business and customer loyalty – could negatively affect your dealership for years. The following strategies can help you protect your dealership's phone system and send hackers packing.


Choose secure passwords and change them frequently:

The best advice for a secure password is to choose one that is a minimum of 12 to 14 characters. It should include a mix of different types of characters, such as numbers, symbols, capital letters, and lower-case letters. Don't pick something obvious like your dealership name and rely on a common substitution, for example replacing an "o" with a zero. That is not a strong password. You should also mandate that the staff changes the passwords to their voicemails at least once a month. The same advice applies to your automated attendant system.


Restrict after-hours access:

When your dealership closes for the day, your phone systems may be under siege. There is no one there to monitor activity, and lines are wide open for a hacker to spend as much time as needed to crack your password.


For example, in reviewing the phone records of a dealership on the east coast, I discovered someone was calling in between 2 and 3 a.m. and staying on the line for at least an hour. When I accessed the call recordings, all I heard was the “beep beep" of numbers being pushed as the hacker tried to hit on the password randomly.


The best way to protect your dealership from a scenario like this is to implement security measures for after-hours. Program your system to cut off a call after two minutes if no one speaks during that time. Do the same for voicemails. If no one leaves a message within one-minute, end the call. 


Monitor and analyze often:

Perform regular phone system health checks. I recommend that at least once a week, you look at your tracking reports. Monitor calls to 800 and 900 numbers to identify invalid calls or calls to chat lines. Then, you can spot a problem before it becomes an emergency. There are also phone health alert systems on the market that can automate monitoring. You put phone parameters in place, and the system sends an instant alert via text or email when a call falls outside those guidelines.


Hacking isn’t just for computers. Your phone system is an attractive target for hackers looking to commit toll fraud or hunting for sensitive customer information. Protect the health of your system with these strategies and send hackers packing.

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