T-Mobile is strengthening defenses against SIM swapping attacks


Adjustments to customer authentication aimed at limiting successful SIM swapping attacks

generalize

  • T-Mobile is strengthening SIM card security to prevent unauthorized attacks, which means customers will need to take more steps to replace their SIM cards.
  • T-Mobile's new “Account Change Engine” audits SIM swap requests for enhanced security and now requires SMS confirmation.
  • As SIM cards become digital, security against SIM swapping attacks continues to evolve.



When you change mobile service providers, you usually need to start using a new SIM card. It's a tiny piece of technology that holds identity information associated with mobile networks. While it may not appear to contain much sensitive data, hackers' demand for such personal information has been growing recently. When your SIM card falls into the wrong hands, the bad actor may have access to your phone number and access to accounts that require two-factor authentication. Now, T-Mobile is beefing up its defenses against such attacks.

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According to T-Mobile documents obtained by The Mobile Report, mobile service providers now need to take more steps to allow customers to successfully switch SIM cards. T-Mobile specifically stated in the document that the goal is to prevent unauthorized attacks from occurring. While it may seem more complex and time-consuming, customers will ideally benefit from enhanced security.


How T-Mobile enhances security

T-Mobile is rolling out what it calls an “account change engine” designed to review requests to change SIM cards. If the request is not approved, the author will need to confirm their identity via text message. Previously, SIM swapping could be initiated via a text message sent to a new line. This extra step could make it more difficult for hackers to attempt a SIM swap attack.

Screenshot of T-Mobile SIM security policy changes

Source: Mobile Report


As SIM swapping hacks increase, bad actors may need to improve their protocols—SIM cards themselves are going digital. As more phone manufacturers remove ports and slots, SIM card slots are disappearing too. As early as 2022, Apple canceled the SIM card slot in the iPhone 14 series and instead chose the new eSIM method. This involves the use of a digital SIM card, eliminating the need for a physical card and making SIM switching easier and more seamless. Android is also rumored to be leaning towards digital eSIM in the future, and protection against SIM swapping attacks is likely to change dramatically in the coming months.





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