SIM Jacking: The SIM Swap Scam That Exposes Your Accounts to Criminals

As Joseph Heller famously wrote, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t necessarily mean someone’s not out to get you. In today’s digital age, this colloquialism rings very true. Cybercriminals constantly adapt strategies to find exploits for every system or service you use regularly. One new way threat actors attack you is with SIM Jacking (also called a SIM Swap Scam).

What You Need to Know About the SIM Swapping Fraud

Unlike the majority of cybercrimes, SIM Swapping doesn’t require hacking or installing any software on your phone. A SIM card is the identity your phone uses to communicate with a cellular network. It’s common for people to retain the same identity (or phone number) in situations where a phone breaks, someone steals it, or you upgrade to a newer model that requires a different type of SIM card. To accommodate this, carriers provide a service to move all your information to a new SIM card.

This practice, called “porting”, is exactly what cybercriminals exploit in order to gain access to your account information. With a small amount of personal information, fraudsters manipulate the service to exploit your carrier and take over your identity.

The Anatomy of a Sim Swap Attack

Criminals execute this kind of attack in a variety of ways. Usually, it requires having access to some of your personal information. In some cases, a date of birth, mobile number, and your name is enough to take over your account. Hackers use any number of phishing techniques to trick you into giving up this kind of personal information.

Hackers will then contact your carrier and trick the agent by impersonating you. After requesting that your carrier port your number to the criminal’s phone, the attack is almost complete. Hackers then exploit the two-factor authentication security protocols to access your accounts and lock you out of your own device and digital services.

How to Protect Against This Kind of Sim Jacking Attack

What remains important is to keep all of your Personally Identifying Information (PPI) private at all times. Never throw your mobile phone bills in the trash and keep as much of your personal information private on your computer. You can create an encrypted folder on your PC to store digital bills and protect it in the event that someone manages to compromise your PC.

You should also contact your carrier and ask for additional security controls on your account. For porting requests, ensure you have to provide them with a pin number or password not available on the phone itself. However, since carriers now know about this type of fraud, it’ll be up to these companies to come up with additional security measures to protect customers.

Improve Your Cyber and Data Security with Technical Framework

Hackers, criminals, and bad actors continue to develop new exploits that target any connected device. This type of identity theft is the latest example of the modern risks facing all individuals today. To ensure you remain protected, you’ll need to engage with cybersecurity experts who can provide a comprehensive assessment of your current information security policies.

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