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Putting Junk Faxer On Hold ...

How a Missouri Telecom expert managed to stop a  fax.com attack through a local affiliate

Email received Oct. 17, 2002

I am a Telcom engineer at a large Missour financial institution. On Tuesday of this week our PBX was being war-dialed by infamous fax.com.

We own one and (part of another) prefixes from Southwestern Bell. That's 12,000 numbers -- 10,000 for our PBX and 2,000 for the fax server.

Since this has happened before, the Telcom manager assigned me the task of finding the culprit... Since the last attack we had upgraded our PBX and trunking and had caller ID running. 

It took about three hours to find the owners of the lines that were war-dialing us (it turned out to be a fax.com affiliate partner in the St Louis area). They then transferred me to Darell Smiley at fax.com who gave me a line of bull that they could do nothing about it for at least three days because that's the way the stupid thing is programmed. 

I blew my top and told him what I thought of his scheme.

I then read your link to fax.com explaining the affiliate partner deal. They sucker some poor loser in a local area code to pay $2,500 for a war-dialer. Then they have them pay a dial-tone reseller, Birch Communications, to provide 4 lines to the war-dialer at the tune of $60.00 plus per month. That struck me: "they are only using four lines for the war-dialer". 

I then went to our call account records and found that there were only three lines doing all the damage (the fourth line must be a maintenance port). It is amazing that only three lines can cause so much trouble.

Here is the best part: Knowing what the numbers were I launched a counterattack, dialing into the war-dialer (after about 10 to 20 tries of getting a busy, eventually the war-dialer would answer) and leaving the phone off-hook.

I did this all Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday. On Wednesday afternoon I got a ring but no answer. It is still this way.

I called the affiliate and she told me that "I took the darn thing off the wall." I feel sorry for the affiliate, since they were suckered into a get-rich-quick scheme by fax.com

David Sperber

P.S.: I was in contact with own information security manager and he was ready to call the FBI, since it was affecting our information systems via the fax server and dial-in modems.