Do you believe your accounts are secured? Think about it.
Even if you have taken all the necessary precautions, there is still a lot to be done. Interestingly, every individual with a phone number could be a potential target for hackers. Therefore, it takes little effort to wreak havoc on your online life.
You’ve probably heard of someone impersonating another person’s name or social security number. Do you realize that the phone number may be unsecured as well?
This brief article will cover why and how to secure your phone number from hackers. It will also explain recommendations on strengthening your privacy and help you protect yourself from potential identity theft.
What is identity theft?
The algorithms of identity theft include an intruder who obtains your personal information (PII). Furthermore, hackers use your information to their advantage. This process is known as identity theft. Identity theft has many forms. The nature of a hack can have a different impact depending on a user’s case and perception.
To put simply, identity theft refers to when someone obtains your personal information, such as your Social Security Number (SSN), and uses it to open a new account, make a purchase, or perform other types of fraud. Despite the magnitude of breach, your personal information is always at risk due to the nature of technology and the internet.
Hence, if you don’t keep a close eye on your credit report, you could never realize the harm this habit could pose to your sensitive data. Unsecure browsing, data breaches, the dark web, credit card fraud, malware, and other methods are among the most prevalent ways through which identity thieves obtain your information. A detailed version of the number of ways your phone is exposed to hackers is listed below.
How is your phone number exposed?
- Your phone number is interconnected. Your phone number is attached to your social media or other online accounts. However, it is good to check your social media privacy settings to ensure that personal information such as your phone number is hidden.
- Your phone number could be public following a data breach. Unfortunately, scammers now have easy access to your digits. The companies that have been data breach victims are required to declare the nature of compromised data. It also includes the nature, scope, and extent of a data breach. In case, if you’re not sure if your data was compromised, contact the company. You can also check haveibeenpwned.com. It has various categories to filter your search.
- You gave out your mobile number too much. You might have given your number for a free trial or other online forms. They may have exposed you to unsolicited phone calls.
- You may have provided your phone number based on a recent online purchase. Retailers may also ask for your phone number in exchange for loyalty points or discounts. This is tempting but not valuable for privacy paranoids.
Why Should You Secure Your Phone Number?
The hacker will start getting all of your calls and texts once they have taken over your phone number. They may be able to access your contacts and personal information, but they are more likely to access your financial account security codes.
The hackers admire the victim’s financial apps. They conveniently get into your bank account information, for instance, the institution will transmit a security code for [SMS] two-factor authentication to prove it is you when they try to log in. That’s why we should abandon SMS-backed 2FA (to be discussed later). The fraudster now has access to your bank account and emails, on top of it. The criminal can now access your account as you – therefore, impersonating you. They can do nearly anything from there, including changes in your passwords and unusual money transfers.
So, to secure your identity and finances, it makes sense to protect your phone number.
It is unfortunate but last year, identity fraud cost 56 billion USD, with 49 million people falling victim in the USA.
The source of this data is Javelin Strategy & Research, 2021 (Identity Fraud Study). Traditional identity fraud involves cybercriminals stealing personally identifiable information and using it for their advantage. This can be achieved through data breaches, therefore, resulting in losses of about 13 billion USD in the year 2020.
Tips and recommendations on how to secure my phone number
With these prevalent risk vectors, individuals must strengthen their security procedures. This section will include some enhanced measures to give you peace of mind.
- When we sign up for websites or services, we may be asked for our phone number to verify our identity. We use it to log in to games and other applications occasionally. When you forget your passwords, your phone number is the last resort for resetting your accounts. Multi-factor authentication could reduce the exposure to perils of a sim swap. It starts by abandoning SMS-backed 2FA. SMS-backed 2FA has inherent risks. Therefore, adding multi-layer authentication is crucial. It can include physical keys too.
- Consider all the websites that have your phone number attached to them. An attacker can use your phone number to start hijacking your accounts by sending password resets to your phone. They can take over your device ultimately. They can also trick automated systems, such as your bank’s self-service contact center, into thinking they’re you (impersonation) when you call customer care, using your phone number. Worse, they can get into your professional email and confidential documents using your hijacked phone number, potentially exposing your organization to security breaches via social engineering techniques. That is why you must secure your phone number.
- EFANI is the best option for you. EFANI protects individuals – CEOs, high-net-worth individuals, celebs, VIPs, executives, lawyers, and sports icons – as well as their families in their personal life by combining cutting-edge cybersecurity technology, 24/7 customer service, and personalized concierge care. With EFANI, you’ll minimize the chance of sim swapping and eventually improve your digital identity.
- Create or Generate Strong Passwords for Your Mobile and Account: For passwords, use upper and lower case, a combination of symbols, letters, and special characters, numbers, and a length of 14 characters or longer. You should never share your account information, PINs, and passwords in any circumstances. You can use a password-generating application and generate secure passwords. These managers can store them to make it easier for you to fill them out later. There are numerous password managers available. It includes Bitwarden, LastPass, Authy, or anything that fits your needs. Please NOTE that EFANI does not endorse any of the mentioned password managers. These are exemplary for a better understanding of the reader. It is better to DYOR.