Hackers are hijacking phone numbers to empty crypto accounts

Small-scale crypto investors are increasingly being targeted by hackers, according to a report published this week.

Cybercriminals are performing a fraudulent practice known as SIM swapping – in which a person’s phone number is transferred to a new device. Several telecom carriers are currently embroiled in lawsuits because victims feel they are not adequately protected.

Protecting yourself from SIM Swapping involves restricting the personal information you put on social media and using technology such as password manager and authentication applications.

Crypto Thieves Switch to Smaller Fish

Report in The Wall Street Journal details how an individual who invested their life savings in Bitcoin emptied their account overnight, losing $80,000 or more in crypto value.

There is a failed path that has been taken over the past few years for hackers looking to target the extremely rich, powerful, celebrities in the crypto space and have invested millions. USD.

Hacking groups have also targeted crypto companies with increasing frequency. Most recent, $610 million was stolen from the Poly Network foundation and millions of others have been accumulated by scammers from various hacks over the past six to seven years.

Small-scale investors have been affected by these large-scale attacks in the past – but for now, it seems that cybercriminals are cutting out the middle man and going straight to the investors themselves. through sim swap scams.

What is SIM Switching?

SIM swapping is an increasingly popular way to take control of someone’s cell phone number. This initially involved some social engineering on behalf of the hackers in question, as they would have to ‘verify’ who they were, tricking the phone carrier into thinking they were indeed the victim their.

Similar processes are routinely performed by phone providers when they swap a customer’s number to a new SIM card (i.e. SIM Swap) or switch a number to a different telecom provider (i.e. mobile ‘switch’).

SIM swapping only takes about 10 minutes and is well worth the time for hackers. When you have control over someone’s phone number, you have a potential way into the owner’s account – from their social network to their bank.

This is largely because phone numbers are commonly called in security protocols, such as two-factor authentication, and can be used to receive codes to reset passwords.

Legal Battles and FCC Action

Enthusiastic investors have opened legal proceedings against various phone service providers, which The Wall Street Journal says has prompted some providers to amend their privacy terms .

In February, for example, Calvin Cheng T-mobile case for indirectly enabling a hacker to steal $450,000 worth of Bitcoins after falling victim to a SIM-swapping scam.

But the case – and all others of a similar nature – was exposed just days before a SIM-swapping scam allowed a Canadian teenager to steal US$36.5 million in Bitcoin. .

In late September, the Federal Communications Commission proposed tightening the rules about how to swap numbers between phone and carrier after several US citizens – including crypto investors – contacted them.

“The commission and our sister agency, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), have received hundreds of consumer complaints about SIM swapping and card transfer fraud,” the FCC document reads. “The bad guys can… change logins, drain bank accounts and increasingly steal cryptocurrencies and sell or try to ransom social media accounts.”

However, Telecom providers have hit back, saying that the proposed regulations provide hackers with a ‘blueprint’ for future attacks.

Can I protect myself against SIM swapping?

One way to protect yourself is to use an authenticator for multi-factor authentication processes instead of using your actual phone number. This means that hackers will have to have your real device to bypass the authentication barrier, rather than your phone number and frequently refreshed codes.

Reducing the amount of personal information someone can find through your public social media accounts is the first step to reducing the risk of SIM Swapping.

Hackers can try and get information about you before a SIM-Swap scam to answer security questions. Making sure your social media accounts don’t contain too much personal information – and any information of this kind can only be viewed by friends – is a good start.

Also, talk to your carrier to add additional security questions that social engineering can’t get through, or ask them to set up a callback system or some other way to verify Your identity goes beyond the usual rules.

As with all scams like this, at some point in the process the hacker still needs to get at least one of your passwords for an account. Make sure they are long enough, complex enough, and stored in a secure password manager like LastPasswhich also has its own authenticator app – which is essential.

How will I know if my SIM has been swapped?

One sign that someone may have swapped your SIM is a sudden loss of cellular service and a lack of incoming messages and/or calls. Remember to check if your carrier’s network is down and rule out another explanation – your phone memory is too full to receive new messages, for example.

If there is a possibility that you are still a victim of SIM Swapping, contact your telecom service provider immediately and change the details of any accounts you own with a phone number. your account – as well as your account password. Hackers are hijacking phone numbers to empty crypto accounts

Caroline Bleakley

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