Your phone number is an easy-to-find key that can be used by hackers and scammers to unlock your personal data. They can also use your number in many other malicious ways.

Unfortunately, there’s another new threat to our privacy, this time involving your cell phone texts.  I don’t like to stoke unnecessary fears, but this is truly a frightening new scam. A gaping flaw in SMS texting service lets hackers take over phone numbers in minutes by simply paying a company to reroute text messages.  For $16, an anonymous prepaid credit card, and a couple of lies, you can literally forward the text messages from ANY phone to your phone. 

There are the multiple ways that your phone can be a target of hackers, below are the most common with links should you want to dig deeper: 

SMS Hijacking
Data Mining
SIM Swapping / Rerouting your Number
Texting Scams / Smishing

I recommend that to combat your phone number being misused, you should share it as little as possible. Many apps and services require a cell number for verification at sign up. By handing your data to these apps, services, and businesses, you increase the likelihood that your cell number will be passed on to third parties and data aggregators.

However, as keeping your phone number private is not always possible, you can at least track it so you are aware of when it has been compromised. Sign up for an account at OkeyMonitor and they will alert you via email (or two) when it detects anyone tampering with your SMS number.

You also may want to consider an alternative to SMS, which provides for multi-factor authentication.  I recommend Authy, or Cisco DUO, but other options include Google Authenticator and 1Password.

As always, this newsletter is for informational purposes, but I am always available for questions or to discuss any of these scams, and ways to protect your business.