SIM Swap Fraud: How it Works, How to Fix It?

If you work in the field susceptible to cyber attacks, you know that the SIM swap scam is a significant issue and getting worse. It is not just in high-profile incidents like Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s account; ordinary people are also attacked. The great news is that a remedy has been found.

When creating a new internet account, we’re all accustomed to entering our email address and password. However, because knowledge factors such as credentials are widely considered insecure, an additional access factor, usually an OTP, is required.

Furthermore, the manner SMS 2FA is employed as a security mechanism while updating a password allows hackers to access many accounts, potentially resulting in financial fraud and identity theft.

Lawyers, crypto, banks, and FinTech companies are the primary targets. Still, any company that uses two-factor authentication is susceptible, as is every smartphone app uses the phone number as the primary user identity.

In this post, we will discuss how typical mobile user authentication mechanisms enable SIM swap scams to spread, investigate the unique mobile weaknesses that allow SIM swap scams, and ultimately, describe how a modern, mobile-native strategy can be used to fix the issue.

‍How Does The SIM Swap Scam Work?

A hacker typically obtains your mobile phone number and some private details through a phishing attack, social engineering, or the purchase of information from other crooks. They use that data to mimic you and obtain a new SIM card from your mobile service provider.

The Mobile Service Provider will give you a replaced SIM card with your phone number on it. Your old SIM card will stop functioning once the SIM card in the hacker’s phone is activated. Once you know it, the criminal has logged into your banking applications, social media accounts, and email accounts, intercepted your SMS codes, and begun taking your money.

While governments, fintech, lawyers, banks, and crypto firms have targeted any phone app that depends on the mobile phone number as the user identity is equally vulnerable. The great news is there is now a simple remedy if you fall into any of these classifications.

Negative Impact of SIM Swap Scam

Once a hacker scam you with a SIM swap attack, the victims’ SIM card is deactivated, and the scammers have access to their mobile number, SMS messages, and incoming calls. It enables scammers to listen in on all of the communication that usually takes place on the victim’s cell phone. The scammer gets access to the victim’s most sensitive data, from phone conversations to Texts and OTPs. The victim will quickly realize something is wrong if the cell phone is disconnected from the provider and no SMS, calls, or data are received on the mobile.

However, in mid-March 2021, a new sort of SIM swap fraud was uncovered, relying on SMS redirection and forwarding. The hacker uses a bulk SMS provider to redirect the SMS to their phone number. This situation is concerning since the user is unaware that something is amiss with the SIM; messages are rerouted without the user’s knowledge. The absence of SMS and phone calls seems to be the only factor the victim notices. It may not immediately raise suspicion. Many safe and valued companies now depend on text-based OTPs or phone calls as a 2FA; thus, SIM swapping and SMS redirects are very important. Hackers generally target these safe services, such as internet banking, utilities, and savings accounts. Hackers can cause a lot of damage if they get their hands on mobile numbers.

SIM Swap Prevention Tips

The thing with SIM swapping is that sometimes – if the fraudster bought needed details elsewhere – it is invisible to the victim. It usually means considerable damage will be done before the victims notice something is awry.

And this is where businesses should do more to protect their user’s assets and data. Here is what you can do to prevent SIM swap attacks:

  1. Update your phone software as soon as you get an upgrade
  2. Install antivirus software
  3. Download applications from trusted sources
  4. Avoid oversharing private information (especially the details you may use as security questions answer) on social media. 
  5. Never click on spammy links, attachments, and emails
  6. Update your passwords frequently (in a month or two)
  7. Keep an eye on your phone signals and reach out to the mobile carrier if you see a drop.
  8. Avoid saving your passwords on your phone.
  9. Download authenticator apps such as Authy and Google Authenticator for 2FA instead of SMS based OTP
  10. Log out of all bank accounts and sensitive accounts when you are done using them.
  11. Subscribe to Efani and get your phone numbers 100% secured
  12. Opt for multi-factor authentication; a password, and a mobile token

Conclusion

The SIM swap fraud is a kind of deception or account acquisition scam that begins when the attacker obtains the victim’s details. It is a straightforward heist with disastrous consequences. SIM swap is complex since many firms use SMS or phone calls as two-factor authentication (two-factor authentication) method that grants them significant capabilities. Furthermore, it takes time for victims to realize they have been duped, and their banned SIMs contain illicit activity.

You can take several steps to avoid becoming victims of SIM swap and account takeover frauds. It takes cognizance, analytical, and sceptical of online data, scam connections, and phone calls. Organizations have a lot more opportunities. They must know how SIM swap frauds can affect their customers and protect their service offerings.

Efani offers everything lawyers, crypto communities, banks, and financial institutions need to combat SIM swap scams.

Read more: 3 Communication Tips to Increase Engagement with Remote Staff

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