Over the last year, many crypto traders have been victims of SIM swapping scams. SIM swapping, often called SIM jacking, is a sort of account takeover (ATO) attack in which a hacker swaps a victim’s mobile number to their own SIM card using social engineering.

The goal of this exploit is for hackers to gain passwords or obtain 2FA verification codes to get access to password-protected accounts such as bank accounts, social profiles, and crypto-wallets.

These kinds of attacks have been happening for more than a decade. Still, they surged in 2017 and 2018 when hackers began targeting the cryptocurrency community to get access to account information used to manage enormous amounts of cryptocurrency.

According to irrefutable data, most of the US population who have mobile number registrations with wireless providers are now exposed to SIM swaps. This concept is even more terrifying if you have cryptocurrency, which you would not want to waste.

This blog will discuss the SIM swap, its impact on the crypto community, and a few great prevention techniques. 

What is a SIM Swap?

A SIM swap is a simple and low-cost method for hackers to access a victim’s cellular phone network. A hacker must understand how wireless mobile providers validate identity and specific details about the victim to carry out the attack. Often, all that is needed is the victim’s contact information.

How Does A SIM Swap Work?

SIM cards are linked with contact numbers instead of mobile phones. It makes the SIM switch from your old device to the newest one reasonably simple and painless. The Micro SIM from the old appliance must be removed and inserted into the new device. Your SIM card includes various contact information and security codes that your smartphone uses to connect to the mobile provider. A few mobile handsets have an eSIM, a built-in SIM card that can be changed to download SIM details from anywhere and link it to a contact number.

When they swap SIM cards, the user’s contact number and profile are transferred from one SIM card to another. Since replacing a SIM card is a legal customer service process, malevolent hackers utilise social engineering to impersonate the victim to the phone carrier’s call centre staff. A SIM swap attack starts with profiling the target and phishing attempts to gather personal details that can be used to successfully impersonate the victim to customer support personnel or provide the essential information to complete the SIM swap via self-service websites and applications.

How SIM Swap Affects Crypto Community?

Cell phones are essential to us. Changing our SIM cards during this time would be highly inconvenient. If you use message-based two-factor authentication (2FA) to sign in to your bank, you may be putting your finances at risk. Assume a hostile attacker acquires the login details to your crypto wallet. In that case, getting OTP via 2FA (a phone call, a text message code, or an email code) to validate a user identity may be impossible. If an attacker gets access to the phone, they can change your login details and prevent you from receiving 2FA messages or login prompts.

Cybercriminals can then gain access to your crypto wallet or bank account by asking that your two-factor authentication codes be sent to their smartphone as they are now receiving your SMS and calls. They can exchange your funds to their bank account before you realise that you are SIM swapped. They can wreak even more havoc by employing methods like coin mixing to get access to other wallets. Cybercriminals could also add new cellphones to your 2FA, so if your cellphone is recovered, your cryptocurrency could be at risk.

How to Prevent SIM Swap Attacks?

Here are a few great ways to SIM Swap detection and prevention:

  1. Opt for a different 2FA method than SMS, including authenticator apps such as Authy, Google Authenticator, or YubiKey physical key. You must apply this to as many websites as possible which provide 2FA. At a minimum, you should use it for your email login).
  2. Get a password manager to save and manage all your essential passwords instead of saving them on your phone.
  3. Your mobile phone plan should include a PIN. It is not a perfect solution, but it is a lot better than doing nothing at all. This support is open from all four leading carriers in the US. Many providers in Africa, the United Kingdom, and Australia have introduced measures that allow banks to verify if a consumer has just swapped their SIM card when completing a transfer and reject the funds transfer if this has occurred.
  4. If your mobile phone suddenly stops working, take action right away. Contact your mobile phone carrier from a different handset and immediately lock down your important accounts.
  5. Never give out personal information on the internet. Cybercriminals are on the hunt for any small data about you that they might use to profile you as a target. If you do not want your details used against you, do not share them.
  6. Avoid clicking on spammy links or emails, as they are designed to impersonate you and steal your login details and other critical information.
  7. Never give out your bank or credit card information to anyone unless you know who is on the other end of the line.
  8. Maintain vigilance and pay attention to your phone networks at all times. If you are experiencing signal issues, contact your mobile carrier.
  9. Update your login passwords regularly. Never use the same password for every app and account.
  10. Get Efani. They offer a fool-proof warranty against SIM swap assaults for only 99 dollars per month.
  11. To prevent attaching a single credit card to several accounts, consider services like Blur or Privacy, that allow single-use debit/credit cards for transactions.
  12. Finally, if you have been the target of a SIM swap fraud, act quickly to protect yourself from suffering a more severe loss than a mobile number theft.

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