A known flaw in the messaging system in Signalling System No. 7 (SS7) protocol developed in the 1970s which allows networks around the world to interoperate, has provided the hole for hackers to bypass 2-factor authentication and transfer money from customers’ bank accounts. After stealing banking credentials, Cyber criminals were able to leverage the vulnerability to intercept banking passcodes via phone numbers and SMS messages. Bob Noel, Director of Strategic Relationships and Marketing at Plixer International commented below.
Bob Noel, Director of Strategic Relationships and Marketing at Plixer International:
“This is an example of how phishing and social engineering allow cybercriminals to gather personally identifiable information (PII) and use it for fraudulent means. In this case, the attacker must know who the user is, their bank account login credentials as well as their cell phone. Armed with this information that they can get in a variety of places like the Dark Web, they are able to pull off data theft by faking a user’s authentication credentials. There are several third party applications that many financial institutions support which allow for two factor authentication that does not use SMS. These applications such as Duo, Authy and Google Authenticator do not use SMS as the communication channel. These apps use dynamically rotating codes, which both parties maintain. Upon login, a user opens their app and enters the code it has generated. In this manner, no communication between the user and the financial institution is required, making it difficult if not impossible for cybercriminals to hijack and use the code.”