What is SIM Swapping?
The subscriber identity module (SIM) card is a small physical and now electronic component of a cell phone that allows the phone to communicate over its respective cellular carrier’s network. This allows the phone to make and receive calls and to use the cellular network for a variety of functions. SIM swapping is when a cyber criminal steals the SIM card identity by reconfiguring the details with the provider. If done properly the carrier will assign the cellphone service to another device owned by the criminal. This means that they can now use their phone as your phone which can be used to circumvent multi factor authentication for a variety of services.
Recently a cyber group consisting of eight individuals was charged with crimes related to SIM swapping activities that earned them almost $2.5 million. The hackers known as “The Community” used their skills to steal Twitter accounts, Facebook accounts, LinkedIn accounts, Google accounts, bank accounts, crypto currency and much more. The primary charge for these crimes was wire fraud and identity theft. Some of the culprits were even employees of AT&T making this entire situation much more concerning for the millions of people who use their service.
Crimes like these seem to be more prevalent however so do the techniques to stop them. Companies are becoming more security conscious and better at countering the techniques of hackers. This reminds me of swatting which used to be a unique occurrence but has been used increasingly more as people become aware of it. However, at the same time law enforcement is also aware of this tactic and has become more aware of possibility that they are being fooled. So in the same way cellphone crimes will likely continue but so will the techniques to counter these crimes will also adapt. It seems as though law enforcement is finally starting to catch up with cyber related crimes. This is evident in the above examples as well as other examples such as the use of digital forensics.