What is SIM Swapping?
SIM swapping, also known as SIM hijacking, happens when the phone associated with an user’s phone number is illicitly exploited. SIM swapping is commonly used by scam artists to obtain OTPs (one-time security passcodes) from cryptocurrency exchange, banks, and other financial companies.
How Does a SIM Swap Work?
Malicious actors usually carry out SIM swap attacks after obtaining your personal details through phishing scams or buying vulnerable login details via deep web markets. Leading up to the SIM swap, victims of cyber attacks commonly have their online accounts and email compromised, enabling scam artists to eavesdrop communications from phone service providers such as Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, and others. Spoofing occurs once fraudsters send you false applications for private details while trying to pose as a government or corporate agent.
Once they have gathered all the information about you, they reach out to their cellular phone service providers. Now, they imitate you and ask the sales representative to assign their contact number to the new SIM card. They answer all the security questions and give reasons as to why they are switching the SIM card such as stolen or lost phone, corrupted SIM card etc. Once they have answered all the identity proof questions (which they initially collected by spoofing emails or stalking you on social media), the sales rep assigns them your number and you are SIM swapped.
It’s that easy.
How to Detect A SIM Swap Attack?
SIM swap detection is not that difficult either. Here are a few signs that indicate that your phone number may have compromised:
- You are not receiving any texts and calls on your phone
- You are out of network coverage even though you are in a city where you usually hang around and have full signals
- You are receiving alerts/notifications of transactions you didn’t make.
- Your phone seems to be in a different location on the map.
What to Do If You Are SIM Swapped?
Report it. Block the new SIM card.
It is as simple as that.
We understand that sinking feeling when you find out your phone number is hacked and you are SIM swapped. However, it is not the time to panic but to take the immediate necessary action. Here is what you should do in the same order:
- Modify all your critical passwords such as mobile bank, social media, email, corporate profiles, crypto wallet passwords etc.
- Remove your phone number as 2FA so the criminal won’t take advantage of receiving OTP on his phone and carrying out malicious activities using your phone number.
- Reach out to your cellular service provider and get the newly assigned SIM card (to the hacker) blocked.
- The next step will be to report the crime to the state police so if any fraudulent activity has occurred it should not affect you.
- Reissue your phone number on your SIM card.
How to Protect Against SIM Swap Attacks?
SIM swap preventative measures are classified into two types.
- The first set of rules is designed to make SIM swap scams more challenging for malicious attackers. You can do this by using security PINs that are needed before allowing a SIM swap. You can subscribe to Efani* as they allow a 2 week cool down period before switching the SIM to the new card after the SIM swap request is initiated.
- Another type of SIM swap prevention measures aims to minimize the seriousness of SIM-swap incidents that are successful. It is usually advisable to avoid SMS-based 2FA. Other suitable tips to remove the possibility of a SIM swap scam include MFA (multi-factor authentication) that doesn’t require authentication through a text or a call like Authenticator apps and physical keys. The majority of people prefer Authy, Microsoft Authenticator App, and Google’s free Authenticator app, and Yubico’s YubiKey physical keys.
How Can Efani* Help?
By spoofing your personal information and robbing you, cybercriminals can cause havoc all over the world. They use a range of tricks, such as automatically generated codes, to target your machine every 39 seconds, or around 2,244 times per day. And if you own cryptocurrencies, you give cybercriminals another reason to target you, as fiscal motivations account for far more than 2/3rds of all attacks.
As a consequence, it is crucial that you adhere to suggested security practices, also recognised as the best cyber security practices, in order to increase your chances of preventing an online vulnerability. Efani offers strong cyber solutions to combat the growing possible threats in SIM swap scams.
By executing an 11-layer proprietary military-grade customer layer verification, Efani inhibits cybercriminals and stops all SIM swaps by default. Prior to actually SIM swapping, a 14-day cooling off period is required. Any transition must be authorized by various members of staff to go through a stringent manual method.
SIM swap attack is a form of trickery or account acquiring fraud that starts with the hackers obtaining the victim’s personal information. It’s a simple heist with devastating results. SIM swap is complicated because many businesses use calls and texts as 2FA methods to gain access to critical accounts. Moreover, victims take time to realize they have been tricked, their SIM card has become useless, and their phone number might be involved in illegal activity.
There are many measures that can be taken to avoid becoming a victim of SIM swap and financial fraud. It requires awareness, analysis, and skepticism of online data, scam links, and phone conversations. Organizations have far more options. They must understand how SIM swap scam affects their customers and safeguard their product offerings.