Reports: Phone Hijackings Lead to Crypto Thefts

Crime, FinTech, News | August 23, 2017 By:

Cryptocurrency exchanges apparently have a new security headache: mobile phone numbers.

Several published reports have indicated that hackers are hijacking phones by an old-fashioned scam – calling up telecommunications service providers, posing as the customer, and getting the phone number transferred to a device controlled by the hacker. That allows the hacker to change the password, and with two-factor authentication, steal a person’s cryptocurrency by transferring it to an outside wallet.

The New York Times reports  that prominent analysts and other industry players, and those who post about their online holdings, are particularly targeted. Victims have no recourse if their holdings are taken, as cryptocurrency transactions can’t be reversed, unlike traditional bank holdings.

The Times reported that phone hijacking cases are on the rise, with 2,658 reported to the Federal Trade Commission as of January, 2016. That’s more than double the number reported in January, 2013.

Coinbase is advising customers to disconnect mobile numbers from accounts as an added preventative measure.