Phone numbers are associated with SIM cards rather than the mobile itself, making the SIM transfer from your old phone to the newer one relatively easy and hassle-free. You have to remove the SIM card from the old phone and insert it into the latest smartphone. Your SIM stores a wide range of phone numbers and access codes that the phone uses to determine itself to the mobile carrier network. A few mobile devices include an eSIM, a built-in SIM card that could be reconfigured from anywhere to download the SIM information to initiate the mobile and connect it with a phone number.
When users want to transfer their mobile number to a new phone, they take the SIM card out from their old phone and put it inside the newer one. Moreover, if the SIM card is lost or damaged, or the latest phone requires a different SIM card, the user must contact their mobile carrier provider to do the SIM swap. SIM swapping transfers the user’s phone number and account from one SIM card to another.
How Does SIM Swap Attacks Work?
Many companies have integrated 2FA (two-factor authentication) to enhance the security of their recognition when providing access privileges. The 2FA can be done by “something you know” like a password and “something you have” like a physical token.
The most common two-factor authentication method is through a text message or an email. It means the user will receive a One Time Password (OTP) to their phone number or email when using this method. However, this practice is relatively ineffective when discussing 2FA about the SIM swap attempts and attacks. As in a SIM-swap fraud, the goal of the malicious hacker is to take control of your SIM card to get hold of your contacts, messages, and receive codes; the 2FA you receive on your phone becomes quite helpful for them instead of you. It makes the whole process of looting you and draining your bank accounts much more accessible.
Because swapping a SIM card is a lawful customer service procedure, malicious hackers use social engineering to spoof the target to the mobile carrier company’s customer service workers to complete the SIM swap. A SIM-swap exploit begins with target profiling and spamming attempts to obtain personal details that could effectively fake the target to customer support workers or supply the necessary information by self-service applications or websites to perform the SIM-swap.
The Negative Impact of SIM Swap Scams
Malicious hackers can access the target’s email account, bank account, social media profiles, business documents, and more sensitive data after swapping the SIM successfully. It helps them to commit further theft. Regaining charge of the SIM could also make it easier to change passwords or use the ‘forgot password’ function of internet accounts that rely exclusively on the supply of a 2FA code via SMS as the only form of proof of identification required to create a new password.
How Does SIM Swap Affect Crypto Community?
We rely heavily on cell phones. At this time, having our SIM cards swapped would be a tremendous hassle. You could be at economic risk if you have added sam-based 2FA to log in to your bank account. Suppose a malicious attacker obtains your crypto account login credentials (ID and password). In that case, they may be unable to get in by receiving OTP via 2FA (a text message code, phone call, or an email code) to confirm a login request. A hacker can alter your user name and password and stop you from getting 2FA notifications or login alerts if they gain access to your mobile.
Hackers can then enter your accounts by requesting that your 2FA codes be delivered to their cell phone (as it is now getting your calls and text messages). They can move your money to their bank before you do anything about it. They can further do the damage by entering other accounts using methods like coin mixing. Malicious hackers can also add new phones to your 2FA, so even if your smartphone is restored, your bitcoin wallet may still be susceptible.
How to Prevent SIM Swap Attacks?
Below we have added a few excellent SIM swap prevention methods.
- Never overshare online. Hackers are on the lookout for any little tiny details they can get about you for target profiling. Try not to share your personal information (phone number, date of birth, parents name, pets name) anything that can be used against you.
- Please do not click on spammy links and emails, as they are mainly drafted to spoof you and collect your login credentials and other sensitive data.
- Never share your credit card or bank account details with anyone until you are sure about the person on the other side of the call.
- Enable 2FA via authenticator apps and physical tokens
- Always stay vigilant and keep an eye on your phone signals. Reach out to your mobile carrier provider if you are out of signals.
- Change your account passwords frequently (in every month or two)
- Remove your phone number as a 2FA from your bank and other confidential accounts.
- Subscribe to Efani. They provide a fool-proof guarantee from SIM swap attacks in just 99$/month
One of the best ways to prevent yourself from the severe impact of SIM swap is by never choosing a text-based 2FA solution for your important accounts. Crypto experts should always avoid using SMS-based OTP and install a smartphone app from Google Play Store or Apple App Store. Authenticator apps like Authy and Google or Microsoft Authenticator generate OTPs on the mobile phone. Therefore, they are not prone to SMS redirection after a potential SIM Swap scam.
Lastly, if you have been a victim of a SIM swap attack, be very quick to take necessary actions to protect yourself from a more significant loss than just a phone number theft.