In today's digital era, shielding customers from SIM-swap fraud has never been more vital.
SIM-swap fraud is a form of identity theft; it occurs when a fraudster persuades a mobile carrier to transfer a person’s mobile phone number to a new device under the fraudster's control. The fraudster can then reset the victim’s passwords, hijack accounts, and ultimately, steal money.
Recognizing the severity of this threat and preventing it through continuous monitoring and risk assessment is crucial for protecting customers. With the right tools and techniques, businesses can stay alert for potential vulnerabilities, monitor suspicious activity, and thwart SIM-swap fraud before it happens.
Understanding SIM-swap fraud
The first step in preventing SIM-swap fraud is to first understand what it is and how it occurs.
A SIM card — that small removable chip in your phone — holds data binding a smartphone to a specific mobile number and network. When a mobile user wants to switch devices, they simply transfer the SIM card to the new phone.
SIM swap-fraud takes place when a fraudster convinces a mobile carrier to transfer a victim's phone number to a new SIM card that they can install in a device under their control. This can happen through various social engineering tactics, like phishing emails or calls that deceive the victim into providing sensitive information, or by convincing a mobile carrier employee to perform the switch.
Once the fraudster has the victim's phone number and other gathered information, they can access accounts, change passwords, and lock the victim out of their accounts. The fraudster can also use the phone number to receive two-factor authentication codes and other security-related messages that would typically go to the victim's phone. With control over the phone number, they can intercept SMS messages and log in without raising suspicion.
The repercussions of SIM-swap fraud can be dire for both customers and businesses. Customers risk losing access to their accounts, having personal and financial information stolen, and even losing money. Businesses may suffer reputational damage, face lawsuits from affected customers, and potentially lose substantial amounts of money.
So how can you protect your business and customers from SIM-swapping fraud? Let’s find out.
Preventing SIM-swap fraud through continuous monitoring and risk assessment
Continuous monitoring and risk assessment are critical in addressing SIM-swapping. By using the right tools and techniques, businesses can detect unusual behavior and emerging threats and respond to SIM-swap attacks faster.
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of continuous monitoring and risk assessment in preventing SIM-swapping fraud:
Improved threat detection
Continuous monitoring and risk assessment techniques help identify and mitigate security risks before they become serious. By detecting and responding to potential threats early, businesses can prevent damage to customers and minimize the impact on the company's bottom line.
Faster response times
With continuous monitoring and risk assessment, businesses can detect and respond to SIM-swapping fraud in real time, reducing the time needed to identify and contain a breach.
Better overall security posture
Ongoing monitoring and risk assessment can also help businesses that have stored value in account ownership or sensitive personal data identify vulnerabilities and take proactive steps to mitigate them. With a proactive approach, these businesses can maintain a strong overall security posture that protects them and their customers against a wide range of threats.
Fighting SIM-swap fraud: a collaborative effort
Preventing SIM-swap fraud is a shared responsibility between stakeholders, businesses, mobile network operators, and service providers, each playing a vital role in creating a safer ecosystem:
- Businesses should implement robust security measures, monitoring their networks for suspicious activity, and educating customers on account protection.
- Mobile network operators are responsible for securely issuing and managing SIM cards. Implementing strict identity verification procedures and closely monitoring SIM card activity can help them prevent unauthorized SIM swap attempts. As often with telecom fraud, building out an effective strategy to combat SIM-swapping requires alignment and collaboration between all stakeholders. By partnering with mobile network operators and other industry players, businesses can leverage various tools and techniques to identify and prevent SIM-swap attacks before they result in financial losses.
Best practices for continuous monitoring and risk assessment
While implementing a continuous monitoring and risk assessment program is one of the most effective ways to prevent SIM-swap attacks, there are a number of best practices you should keep in mind to ensure the program's effectiveness:
Engage all stakeholders
It's important to involve all stakeholders in the implementation and maintenance of a continuous monitoring and risk assessment program. This includes executives, IT teams, risk management teams, and others. Effective communication and collaboration can help ensure everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals.
Employee education and training are essential to preventing SIM-swapping attacks. Employees should be trained to recognize and report suspicious activity, and to follow best practices for protecting customer data.
Regular testing and evaluation
Regular testing and evaluation of the monitoring and risk assessment program can help identify weaknesses and areas for improvement. It's important to conduct regular risk assessments and penetration testing to identify vulnerabilities and ensure the program is effective.
Regular updates and enhancements
A continuous monitoring and risk assessment program should be updated and enhanced regularly to keep up with changes in the threat landscape and advancements in technology. Regular updates can help ensure the program remains effective in preventing SIM-swapping attacks.
Stay ahead of emerging threats
SIM-swapping attacks are just one of the many types of fraud businesses, service providers, and mobile network operators need to guard against. It's important to stay up to date on emerging threats and adjust your monitoring and risk assessment program accordingly.
By following these best practices, businesses, service providers, and mobile network operators can help prevent SIM-swap attacks and protect one of their most precious assets: customers and their data.
Your partner for safer mobile accounts and identity
In a fast-paced digital world, taking action to protect customers and avoid potential financial losses is a key business imperative. By working together and implementing best practices for continuous monitoring and risk assessment, we can help prevent SIM-swap attacks and ensure a safer, more secure future for all.
As a global leader in cloud communications, Sinch helps thousands of businesses protect their customers' mobile identities from SIM-swap fraud. We do this by sending two-factor authentication one-time passwords (OTP) to mobile devices based on whether a new SIM card was issued; this ensures OTP codes securely end up in the hands of genuine users.
Find out more about how we help businesses secure customer accounts — with Sinch’s Unified Verification API, a single integration is all it takes to optimize fraud prevention, costs, customer retention, revenue increase, and customer satisfaction. Contact us to get started and experience top-notch delivery, seamless integrations, and high-quality support.