Should you guard your phone number as much as your social security number?
In this InTechnology video, Tom and Camille talk with Haseeb Awan, CEO and Founder of Efani Secure Mobile. They get into the logistics of SIM swaps, how to stop a SIM card attack if you catch one in time, and how to improve your mobile security.
The Logistics of SIM Swaps
SIM swaps, also known as SIM card attacks, are an effective way for attackers to steal your money and your personal information. They do this by getting a new SIM card for your phone number, either by going into a phone company store or over the phone and pretending to be you.
Once they have access to your phone number, your bank, email, and social media accounts are only a few minutes away from their access. In just a few minutes, an attacker can use your phone number to authenticate access to your accounts, change your passwords, transfer your money, and access other personal data. They may even contact friends and family by impersonating you asking for money, or they may attempt blackmail. Haseeb explains how these attacks can happen to anyone, not just public figures.
How to Stop a SIM Card Attack
Once a SIM swap starts, it’s a race against the clock to prevent the attacker from accessing your money and information. Haseeb states the quickest way to know if your number has undergone a SIM swap is a complete and sudden loss of cell signal. If this happens, you must take action immediately. Haseeb outlines that the best steps to take are to contact your bank and freeze your accounts, reset your email and social media passwords, remove your phone number from all accounts, and physically go to the closest phone company store to demand a resolution and answers as to why the attack happened. If you are unable to stop an attack in time, you sadly may not be able to recover your lost funds.
Improving Your Mobile Security
Haseeb shares a few ways you can improve your mobile security and prevent SIM card attacks. First, he recommends keeping the number of people on your phone plan to a minimum, with just yourself as the most secure option. Fewer people on a plan means fewer people an attack can spread to.
Another recommendation is to remove your phone number from as many online accounts as possible. Attackers only need your phone number these days to discover your personal information like your bank account, email and social media, credit cards, home address, workplace, etc. Authenticator apps are a much more secure alternative to using your phone number for authentication when signing into your accounts.
Lastly, Haseeb recommends making sure your bank has a note that you will never authorize a transaction over a specified amount. You may also consider getting a second phone number.
Haseeb Awan, Founder & CEO of Efani Secure Mobile
Haseeb Awan specializes in mobile security, blockchain, and FinTech. One of his first successful business ventures was co-founding BitAccess, one of the first and largest Bitcoin ATM companies in the world. In 2019, Haseeb founded Efani Secure Mobile, a company that provides mobile security plans for public figures like executives, celebrities, and investors. His education includes a Master’s degree in Engineering Management from the University of Ottawa and studying Financial Markets at Yale University. Haseeb is also an alumnus of Next Founders and Y-Combinator.
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