Fri. Jul 1st, 2022

SIM-Swap Attacks or SIM jacking occurs when a criminal persuades your network provider to move your phone number to a SIM card they have.

SIM swap fraud has become more common since SIM cards have become more important tools in personal transactions than merely calls and SMSs.

In Kenya, mobile money thieves have been looking for new ways to steal from unsuspecting mobile phone users. Even going so far as to register an existing number on a new SIM card.

All of this is done to intercept messages, one-time passwords, online banking profiles, and transactions.

Because SIM cards are linked to the owner’s bank, email, and social media accounts, fraudsters can gain access to these accounts. They then proceed to transfer money and defraud your friends and family on your contact list while impersonating you.

Self-whitelisting systems, where one secures their own number against unwanted SIM switching, have already been established by some cell companies.

However, this is only one of many precautions one can take to protect their SIM cards. Here are some safety precautions to take:

1. Secure your line

You should use a numerical PIN to protect your SIM. That is more secure than your year of birth (or your high school entrance number!) and enter it every time you restart your phone.

2. Secure your device

Additionally, for added protection, your phone should be protected with a PIN or pattern.

Phone manufacturers have included biometric protection of devices. This includes the use of fingerprints or facial recognition, as a result of technological improvements, which comes in useful here.

3. Whitelist your number against fraudulent replacement

Safaricom offers a self-whitelisting service that encrypts a phone number so that no one else can use it without your permission.

To whitelist your phone number, simply dial *100*100#.

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This feature assures that a customer’s SIM card can only be replaced by visiting a Safaricom Shop or Care Desk with identification or calling Safaricom customer support.

4. Make use of two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication (2FA) increases the security of online accounts by requiring additional pieces of information in addition to a login and password to verify them.

You should enable it for your accounts and utilize 2FA apps like Google Authenticator or Authy if possible.

5. Beware of phishing

Scammers posing as assistants in banks, government institutions, and health offices in Kenya are very widespread, and they ask for sensitive personal information since you trust these companies.

However, your bank, the government, or any legitimate health care provider will never ask for your personal information on the internet.

It is preferable to wait and contact the agency later to confirm the outreach than to risk losing everything.

6. Be careful what you put out there

The more personal information about you that is publicly available on the internet. This includes your full name, address, phone number, and date of birth, the easier it is for fraudsters to acquire access to your accounts.

Remember that in order to secure your accounts, you may have utilized data like your pet’s name, favorite meal, and so on in online security questions.

While you’re at it, keep an eye out for any unusual behavior with your SIM card that could signal fraud and notify your network provider.

This can involve being locked out of your phone’s online or mobile money account, receiving notifications for acts you didn’t take, and losing service even if you have adequate reception.

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