WhatsApp is the most used messaging application around the world. Currently, the service has 2 billion active users per month, a figure that makes it a real treat for hackers.
The most common way that hackers steal users’ WhatsApp accounts is through a type of fraud called SIM swapping. This old acquaintance has been the gateway to our phones for years for lovers of other people’s things, but now it is more fashionable than ever.
We are going to explain what it consists of, what consequences it has and what you can do to avoid being a victim of this type of scam.
What is SIM swapping?
This scam can be carried out in many ways, but usually someone will impersonate us and contact our mobile operator. They may have previously obtained a copy of our identity document and personal data (they usually pretend to be state agencies or banks).
The scammers will claim that they have lost the phone and that they need a duplicate of our SIM card. In the event that the operator falls into the trap, the pirates will have access to our phone, and therefore, to a large number of services, including WhatsApp.
How can they impersonate my identity?
The answer to this question is simple and at least worrisome. And is that today our phone number is linked to many services that we also sometimes access with a double-factor verification system with SMS messages that reach the phone.
WhatsApp, Twitter, Telegram, Instagram, email clients, digital payment systems or banking applications are some of the most sensitive platforms that can be exposed to SIM swapping.
There is no specific way to know if we have been victims of SIM Swapping before it is too late, but experts say that when this happens, our phone goes offline for a few minutes.
When recovering the line, we may start receiving application password recovery text messages. It could also be the case that the impostor has sent WhatsApp messages impersonating us.
This can cause us serious problems. For example, in a specific case that relates The country, a user whose identity was spoofed on WhatsApp may have been accused of attempting to extort his contacts. And it is that, posing as him, the pirate asked his contacts to make a deposit because they were going to seize him. Fortunately, everything was resolved without incident.
How to strengthen security in WhatsApp
In case you perceive an unusual line cut, the ideal is to quickly contact your telephone provider to check that everything is in order.
It is also advisable not to use passwords related to personal information and, in the case of WhatsApp, apply a privacy setting that keeps the greatest amount of sensitive information hidden. It is expected that in the future WhatsApp will hide our phone number from contacts that we do not have added to our agenda, but at the moment this is not possible.
Finally, remember to always avoid sending sensitive information such as account numbers, bank statements or personal information in WhatsApp chats, especially in groups with many users.