Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Google Fi catches up to the big carriers with defense against SIM swap attacks

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  • Hackers target your device & sensitive info using SIM swap. Carriers like T-Mobile & Verizon combat attacks with new authentication procedures and Number Lock.
  • Google Fi is also introducing a Number Lock for added security against SIM swapping. You can activate it for free in your account settings.
  • FCC guidelines urge wireless providers to offer account locking to prevent SIM changes. Google Fi’s move aligns with these measures.

Hackers and bad actors employ various tactics to gain access to your device and the most sensitive information stored on it, including two-factor authentication codes and bank accounts. One of the most-used methods to do so is called SIM swap. If you’re unfamiliar with this concept, SIM swap means the criminal can trick your carrier into connecting your phone number to a SIM card they possess. This way, they can access everything associated with your phone number.


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But carriers and government agencies are not sitting idle. Last year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced new rules and guidelines to combat SIM swap attacks, urging major US carriers to take similar steps. As a result, T-Mobile announced a new procedure for performing SIM swapping, while Verizon added a Number Lock feature to protect its customers’ phone numbers from unauthorized access. Now is the time for Google Fi to reveal its own version of the Number Lock feature.

Google Fi’s Number Lock feature aims to repel SIM swap attacks

As Google highlighted on its support page (via Android Authority), when the Number Lock is enabled, users are prevented from transferring their number to another phone and porting their number to another carrier. It adds a new layer of security against SIM swap attempts, and activating it is free for users.

SIM cards next to a phone an tray

To enable Number Lock, you must first log in to your Google Fi account. Then, select Privacy & security and tap Sign in to manage Number lock. Now, you should re-enter your account credentials and toggle “Number lock” to ON — or OFF if you want to disable it.

According to the FCC’s new guidelines (PDF warning), announced in November last year, US wireless providers should offer users the option to lock or freeze their accounts to stop SIM changes at no cost. When the feature is enabled, “wireless providers must not fulfill SIM change requests until the customer deactivates the lock.” The FCC also advised carriers to let their customers lock or freeze their accounts to stop port-outs.


How to protect yourself from a SIM-swap attack

The risks are never zero but you can minimize them

Google Fi’s Number Lock feature aligns with the FCC’s latest guidelines, aiming to enhance users’ privacy and combat SIM swap attacks. If you’re a Google Fi user, we recommend that you enable the Number Lock feature for your own safety.

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