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DeckerWright Corporation Blog

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Guard Your Cell Phones

A person’s cell phone is becoming a linchpin in technology security. Cell phones have taken on a major role in helping to verify an identity. Whether you are on the phone with a customer service person or logging into a computer system, the cell phone is often used as a method for verifying a person’s identity. As the cell phone becomes an increasingly popular tool for identity verification, criminals have a greater motivation to steal either your cell phone or your cell phone number.

Cell phone verification often starts with setting up a new account. Microsoft, for example, uses the cell phone number entered during account setup for verifying the identity of a person during password resets and other administrative tasks. Many banks and credit card companies also use cell phones for texting verification codes. This multi-factor authentication (MFA) technique is being commonly adopted by many service providers.

Another way cell phones are used for MFA is through the use of third party push applications to cell phones. Google, Duo, and Symantec all have cell phone apps that generate new codes every minute. When logging into a system, the code listed on the device gets entered into the login process, providing a second code in addition to the password. This MFA makes breaking into a system a lot harder for criminals. 

Since the access to your money has been connected to your cell phone, criminals have devised many schemes to take over your cell phone. The most common ways are tricking the cell service provider into assigning your cell number to a device in their control and changing the cell phone number attached to an account. Cell phone number theft has become a widespread problem. The cell phone theft is normally paired with the compromise of the victim’s email account. By gaining access to the victim’s email account, the criminals can have the cell company send verification information to the victim’s email address. Once the cell number is obtained, the criminals can use login information they may have obtained via keylogging malware on an unsuspecting victim’s computer. With the login information and control of the cell phone, the criminals can log in and clear out your bank account.

Here are some tips for safe guarding your cell phone:

  • Make sure you use either a random complex password or pass phrase on the email account associated with your cell phone.
  • Make sure you keep your computer fully patched and run current anti-virus software to guard against malware.
  • Check the mobile phone number associated with key accounts regularly to ensure your cell phone is attached to the accounts you expect.
  • Make sure the password you use on your cell phone account is complex or has a long pass phrase.
  • Practice good computer hygiene.

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