A type of scam that exploits two-factor authentication measures.

A type of scam that exploits two-factor authentication measures.

What Is a SIM Swap?

A SIM swap is a criminal heist that targets weak points in two-factor authentication (2FA) systems, which many individuals use to provide an additional layer of security for their social media, banking or other online accounts.

These types of attacks are a result of cybercriminals tampering with a victim’s mobile phone service. 

The result is then that the criminal obtains access to the victim’s data and transfers the phone number to a new SIM card the hacker owns. 

This means the hacker can access the victim’s email and reset any confidential information, including logins. 

The risk is heightened when a criminal obtains access to the individual’s cryptocurrency credentials, including details to their crypto wallets. 

The most worrisome part of SIM swap attacks is the ease by which these types of crimes can be executed. 

It only requires the victim’s mobile carrier number to be ported to a new phone number. 

There are several ways the mobile carrier number can be ported to the hacker’s new number. 

These include by phishing or even merely buying details on the victim. 

A January 2020 study by Princeton University indicated 39 of 50 attempts by researchers to pull off SIM swaps were deemed successful. 

A 15-year-old school student in New York was able to execute a SIM swap attack on a cryptocurrency entrepreneur. 

The cybercrime resulted in drastic financial consequences as they stole digital assets worth $24 million.

Europol was able to detect a cybercriminal ring that conducted 100 such attacks. 

This led to losses of about $3.7 million.