The Dangers Of Having Your Phone Number Stolen

Dialing smartphone

Recently, social network SnapChat has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Nearly 5-million users’ accounts were compromised and criminals made off with usernames and phone numbers. That has left many to wonder, what does a hacker want with my phone number? Quentin Fottrell of Market Watch set out to answer that question.

The most obvious reason why a hacker having your phone number would be a bad thing is the same reason you’re hesitant to give out your number in the real world. They might just use it. Malware and phishing attacks on smartphones increased steadily throughout 2013. When a criminal learns your phone number, you’re significantly more likely to receive malicious text messages. These can either be an annoyance, or a serious problem based on the type of messages being sent and your reaction to them.

Another problem that many users fail to realize is that your phone number is associated with a number of your online accounts. Particularly on social media, knowing a user’s phone number can help you find their profile. Finding their profile allows you to associate their name, birth day and other information to that phone number. Armed with that knowledge, a criminal could easily steal your identity and break into a number of important accounts. Since phone numbers don’t change often, one could argue that they’re more valuable online than even physical addresses and email addresses.

This doesn’t mean that you should never give out your phone number to any website. You shouldn’t make it public on any social media profiles, but there are other instances where it actually enhances security. In the case of two-factor authentication, your phone number is used to a second level of security to safeguard important accounts for email and banking sites. Security experts advise you to feel free to give out your phone number online if it’s for a specific use.

Unfortunately for SnapChat users, there’s no way to use the service without giving up your phone number.

At Geek Rescue, we specialize in security. If you’d like to improve the security at home or at the office, give us a call at 918-369-4335. We also fix devices that have been infected by malware.

January 3rd, 2014