SIM swap cyber-attacks, when a phone number is transferred to another device without the permission of the owner, present a threat to individuals and businesses. In this blog our Mobile, Colocation and Managed Workplace Product Director Rupert Evans takes you through five essential steps to prevent SIM swap cyber-attacks impacting you.
In this digital age our smartphones have become an extension of ourselves, containing a hacker’s treasure trove of personal and sensitive information. Unfortunately, with the convenience of mobile connectivity comes the risk of cyber threats, and one such peril is the SIM swap cyber-attack that was recently experienced by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
In this blog we’ll explore what SIM swap cyber-attacks are and take you through five essential steps to prevent falling victim to this increasingly prevalent cyber threat.
What is a SIM Swap Cyber-Attack?
A SIM swap cyber-attack occurs when a malicious hacker manages to convince your mobile carrier to transfer your phone number to a new SIM card under their control. Once successful, the attacker gains access to your text messages, phone calls, and in some cases, two-factor authentication codes, providing them with the keys to your digital kingdom.
Five Essential Steps to Prevent SIM Swap Cyber-Attacks
Here are five essential steps that you should take to protect yourself and your business from SIM swap cyber-attacks.
Step One: Enable PIN Protection
The first line of defence against SIM swap cyber-attacks is to set up a Personal Identification Number (PIN) with your mobile carrier. This PIN acts as a barrier, requiring anyone attempting to make changes to your account or use your SIM card in another device, to provide the correct PIN. Choose a strong and unique PIN, and avoiding easily guessable combinations like birthdates or consecutive numbers.
Step Two: Implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
Enable MFA on all your accounts, especially those linked to your phone number. This adds an extra layer of security, requiring not only your password but also a secondary verification method such as a code sent to your email or a dedicated authentication app. Even if a malicious actor gains access to your SIM card, MFA provides an additional obstacle, preventing unauthorised access to your accounts.
Step Three: Stay Informed and Monitor Your Accounts
Regularly check your bank statements, email accounts, and other sensitive applications for any unusual activity. Set up alerts for suspicious transactions or login attempts. Being proactive in monitoring your digital presence allows you to detect potential breaches early, minimising the impact of a SIM swap cyber-attack.
Step Four: Use Authenticator Apps for MFA
While SMS-based MFA is better than no MFA, it’s not foolproof. Consider using authenticator apps like Microsoft Defender, which generates time-sensitive codes on your device without relying on text messages. This method eliminates the risk of an attacker intercepting your MFA codes through a SIM swap.
Step Five: Choose a Mobile Provider with Relevant Security Processes
Six Degrees Mobile offers a dedicated service team that has processes in place to minimise the risk of malicious external and internal behaviour on accounts. Our team knows the administrative point of contact on a client account and also backs up all transactions with a ticketed response, regardless of how it was initially received.
We ensure that accounts are locked down at network level using named access points and passwords to gain access to the account, eliminating malicious direct network access. Our service allows us to support our clients’ end users directly, without allowing for exposure of the business’s digital world.
In any instances of concern reacting swiftly is key, so ensure you contact your provider a soon as a concern arises – our industry leading, 24×7 SLAs of four seconds pick-up on calls and 15 minutes first response on emails supports this for our clients.
Protect Yourself and Your Business
As technology advances, so do the tactics of hackers. Protecting business and personal devices from SIM swap cyber-attacks requires a combination of proactive measures, including PIN protection, MFA, vigilant monitoring, secure and robust mobile provider processes, and adopting secure authentication methods.
Speak to us about securing your endpoints and understand how some of the above no cost prevention methods can support your business in the ever-evolving landscape of digital threats.