Cybercriminals working to take control of smartphones to access even more accounts

NCC experts issue SIM swapping attack warning
Cybercriminals working to take over access to our smartphones
Posted at 4:53 AM, Apr 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-15 19:43:15-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — With so many of us doing so much on our smartphones as part of our daily lives, imagine handing over your phone and everything in it to a criminal. News5 is getting a warning from cybersecurity experts about a tactic crooks are using to take over our phones.

If fraudsters and cybercriminals can get their hands on our sensitive information there are so many ways they can use it against us. This is why cybersecurity experts are working hard to educate people on an attack called SIM swapping. It's a strategy crooks are using to gain access to our phone.

Criminals are actively trying to fool cell phone carriers into giving them access to your smartphone. They are able to have success using information they have on us that they've acquired through data breaches, scams, and information we volunteer publicly on social media.

Cybersecurity experts at the National Cybersecurity Center in Colorado Springs are actively working to educate lawmakers, cell phone carriers, and the public on the issue of SIM swapping.

"This SIM card is essentially your phone's identity," said Mattie Gullixson of the National Cybersecurity Center. "Fraudsters call into your mobile carrier call center posing as yourself and they try to claim that they had a damaged phone, or they got a new phone. Criminals are basically getting new phones and are calling into your service provider to have your phone number assigned to that new SIM card so any inbound messages you get they will have access to them."

There are concerns that if crooks are able to be successful with SIM swapping they'll be able to bypass the multi-factor authentication that adds an extra layer of security for so many accounts because they'll be able to have pin numbers, and access sent to a phone that now operates as yours.

So, here's a step you can take today to defend against these attacks.
"Call your cell phone provider and set up a pin. So that's going to be a number, a four digit or six digit number and you are going to use that number that only you should know to access your account," said Gullixson. "So, if someone does try to call in to a center and tries to pose as yourself they are going to ask for that pin and hopefully that's the piece of information, the one piece of information those attackers won't have."

Right now the cybersecurity experts at the NCC are working to educate lawmakers, cell phone providers, and all of us about SIM swapping attacks.

For more information on this cybersecurity concern and others visit the NCC website