Saturday 28 November 2020

SIM swap fraud: A new wave of attacks targeting Africa’s financial and online services

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SIM fraud occurs when someone convinces your operator to change your phone number to a SIM card held by a criminal. In some cases, carrier employees work with criminals.

By hijacking your incoming text messages, fraudsters can easily perform two-factor text-based authentication that protects your most sensitive accounts in financial services or bank accounts, social networks, webmail, and instant messaging. 

SIM fraud occurs when someone convinces your operator to change your phone number to a SIM card held by a criminal.

Many African countries are suitable for mobile payment methods. In fact, research shows that at the end of 2017, there were 135 active money mobile account services in sub-Saharan Africa with 122 million accounts. 

Although mobile payment methods offer difficulties for discussion, research by Kaspersky Lab shows that mobile payments and the banking system are going through a wave of attacks - mostly driven by SIM fraud - and that as a result, people are losing money. This type of attack is used not only to steal credentials and capture one-time passwords (OTPs) sent via SMS but also to inflict financial damage on victims by resetting service bills. allowing fraudsters to access more than just currency accounts. in banks, but also in fintech and credit unions. But you can prevent this Sim Swap by reading our article titled "How To Prevent Using Your Stolen Sim Card To Steal Money From Your Bank Account" Read it Here

Fraudsters also use it as a way to steal money using WhatsApp, upload messages to a new phone, contact the victim's contacts to ask for money, counterfeit money emergencies.

“Despite financial inclusion services prospering, the flip side to this is that it opens up a world of opportunities to cybercriminals and fraudsters who are using the convenience a mobile phone offers to exploit and poke holes in a two-factor authentication process. 

Frauds using SIM swap are becoming common in Africa and the Middle East, affecting countries like South Africa, Turkey and UAE, Nigeria. Countries like Mozambique have experienced this firsthand.

The implemented solution, by banks and mobile operators in Mozambique, as a result, is something I believe we must learn from and encourage other regions to investigate and apply, among other aspects, to mobile payment methods of the future – as a way to ensure that mobile phones do not become an enemy in our pockets,” said Fabio Assolini, Senior Security Researcher of Kaspersky Lab

The total money lost in the attacks varies by country: there are extreme cases, such as one in the United Arab Emirates, where one victim lost $ 1 million (, while in South Africa one victim reported losing $ 20,000. “In average fraudsters can steal $2,500 to $3,000 per victim, while the cost to perform the SIM swap starts with $10 to $40,” conclude Assolini. 

In order to protect the growing mobile digital life and payment methods, Kaspersky Lab recommends the following key considerations: 

Voice and SMS methods avoided as authentication methods for payments – OTPs in mobile apps like Google Authenticator or the use of physical tokens should be used. 

Biometrics – there is no better authentication than that of a physical characteristic. Voice authentication is an option that can be investigated further. 

An automated ‘Your number will be deactivated’ message – to be shared upon SIM swap request. This will support the user to report the activity, if it is not legitimate, faster. 

Activate 2FA on WhatsApp – in an attempt to minimize WhatsApp hijacking, activating Two-factor authentication using a six-digit PIN on your device is critical. This supports the user is having an additional layer of security on the device.

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