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This week’s subject is security for mobile devices. Not a day goes by when you don’t read of another hack on a major corporation by bad actors who now have access to your most private information. Last week it was reported that six thousand (6,000) TracFone customers were ported over to Metro by T-Mobile without their knowledge or permission, losing their phone number in the process.
TracFone issued the following statement on January 27th:
We were recently made aware of bad actors gaining access to a limited number of customer accounts and, in some cases, fraudulently transferring, or porting out, mobile telephone numbers to other carriers. These bad actors may have had access to your name, address, PIN code, account number, secret question (but not answer), and email address……….
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T-Mobile spokesperson Tara Darrow said in an email to The Verge that the company had investigated the issue, “and there is no fraud or data breach of any sort on the T-Mobile side of these port-outs."
That’s comforting to everyone except the 6,000 TracFone subscribers that lost their number and ability to use their phone.
What Can We Do?
While there are literally hundreds of solutions and apps for Mobile Device Security, I’d like to focus on what could assist you, the MVNOs in protecting your customers from a similar TracFone type breach.
One of my clients is Efani. Efani guarantees protection from SIM swaps, eavesdropping, and location tracking. All of their clients are insured with a multi-million dollar insurance policy, so in case of any incident, you’re not just left with an apology but funds to cover your losses.
While Efani’s approach is to block all SIM swaps by default, their website states,
“Today’s typical mobile operator is automated for efficiency, taking thousands of new SIM card requests per day. This is a hacker’s dream come true! It is their goldmine.
Hackers can easily bypass identity checks by stalking your social media and guessing your security questions appropriately.
Efani deters hackers in their tracks. We block all swaps by default.”
I spoke with Haseeb Awan this week, CEO of Efani about protecting individual accounts. Haseeb told me,
“Cellphones were not meant to be an identity layer but today your cellphone number is more important than your social security number. This is why it’s so lucrative to sim swap you and drain you financially, reputationally & emotionally.
Every day thousands of Americans become victims of such attacks with very little recourse. After being a victim multiple times, I had no option but to build a Secure Mobile Service for important people."
Unfortunately, priced at $99/month for an unlimited everything plan with SIM swap protection and insurance, Efani may not be affordable for the masses. I hope in the future, Efani will be able to expand their protection to cover more people. Efani also offers more premium "Black Seal Protection" services for VIP clientele.
Efani and Atrium Unlimited are working together to look at possible distribution opportunities for customers of our MVNO and Retail partners and hope to have a plan in place later this year. Stay tuned!
Haseeb and Efani have been on the front lines of device security for many years and I encourage you to learn more about them so you can “help individuals and organizations keep their data safe from intruders.” Welcome to Efani - Meet People Who Worked Together to Secure You
Two Factor Authentication
Another way to help secure your customer’s information is Two Factor Authentication (2FA). Atrium Unlimited Consulting has recently partnered with Cool SMS to provide a US-based phone number to receive SMS messages as every day, more and more websites, credit card companies, banks, etc. are requiring their users to SMS verify their identity. Cool SMS (https://coolsms.net) is different from others because they don't restrict you to any particular platform or service. SMS messages can be received from any source.
I met with Christopher Walsh, President of Cool SMS and he indicated that two-factor authentication via SMS is still the preferred method of delivery for most companies. Specifically, he told me that.
“The market has spoken. People overwhelmingly prefer SMS 2FA over independent apps. Because of this, we must focus on how to make SMS 2FA more secure. Preventing against attackers fraudulently number porting and/or SIM swapping is priority one. We’ve introduced a clever alternative which includes the impossibility to port and/or swap a number. This mitigates the vulnerability almost entirely.”
The verticals that 2FA will assist are numerous and Atrium Unlimited is proud to have this association with Chris and his team to add another layer of security and protection to our wireless users. We’d be happy to discuss how you might incorporate something like this into your porting process or other customer service verification tools. Personally, whether it’s my mortgage company, bank, credit card, or other companies that hold my sensitive data, it seems that I need to receive a code via SMS for almost every online or mobile transaction that I am doing. This gives me great peace of mind that my information is secure from would-be hackers.
Hacking and stealing information is not isolated to our little corner of the world. Cyber Security is now a full-blown industry. Love or hate Facebook, The Verge reported that Facebook increased the number of employees working on cyber security from 10,000 individuals in 2017 to over 40,000 since July of 2021. Facebook’s safety and security teams removed 3 billion fake accounts in the first half of 2021.
As the bad guys get smarter, it is critical that we rely on new technology to keep our most valuable assets safe. Enlisting the help of experts to support our carriers, MVNO, Retailers, and most importantly, our wireless subscribers from theft and unwanted intrusion is one of the most important initiatives that we all can support. To this end, I and others will be speaking about mobile device security at the first Mobile Disrupt Conference in May in Las Vegas. You can find details at Mobile Disrupt – A Secondary Phone Conference – Mobility conference made by the BIGGEST NAMES in the Wireless Mobility industry today!
Welcome to February! Stay safe and secure and thanks for all of your ongoing support.
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