The Quickstart Guide to Protecting Against SIM Swaps

3NUM was started because of a SIM Swap attack and ending SIM Swaps for good is a core part of our mission! This quickstart guide explains what SIM Swaps are, common questions and misconceptions about the problem, and how to protect yourself against this type of mobile fraud.

What is a SIM Swap:

A SIM Swap is a socially engineered attack where a hacker gains access to a victim’s phone number by tricking or coercing a mobile carrier employee into transferring the victim’s number to a SIM card controlled by the hacker. Once the hacker has control of the victim’s phone number, they can use it to gain access to sensitive online apps including email, social media, and more damaging, crypto and banking accounts.

Common SIM Swap Questions and Misconceptions:

My Phone Has an eSIM, am I safe from being SIM Swapped?

The term “SIM Swap” makes it sound like someone is physically “swapping” your SIM from your phone. In reality, this hack has nothing to do with a user “controlling” a SIM. This attack actually occurs by a mobile carrier simply re-assigning your phone number to a new user. In-fact eSIMs make this problem worse, not better.

Setting a PIN protects me from being SIM Swapped

This statement is unfortunately not true. A SIM Swap occurs either by a hacker impersonating you with a telco, or by colluding with a telco employee to pull off the attack. While PINs do help protect you against the former, they do nothing to protect you against the latter. We suggest setting a PIN, but ultimately this does not guarantee protection against SIM Swaps

I use a VOIP service like Google Voice, am I protected against SIM Swaps?

There is a common misconception that using a service like Google Voice, (where phone numbers do not have SIM Cards) are immune from the SIM Swap problem. This is not the case, as these phone numbers are still at risk of being ported, or “re-assigned” just like with an eSIM. Services like Google Voice or Hushed offer number portability, which means that you are not protected from “SIM Swaps” when using these services

How easy is it to pull off a SIM Swap?

SIM Swaps are trivial to pull off in the United States. In fact, the average cost to pull off this attack ranges from as low as $5k with T-Mobile to $50k with Verizon.

How Can Users Protect Themselves From SIM Swaps?

The most important thing is to stop using traditional phone numbers with services for 2FA. Traditional SMS-based 2FA is not secure. The most effective way to ensure you are protected is to remove your phone number as a backup from websites all together.

The reality is that as long as users rely on traditional phone numbers and SMS, the SIM Swap problem cannot be stopped completely. Ending SIM Swaps for good requires upgrading the world from traditional phone numbers and SMS into end-end encryption with cryptographically secure identifiers. 3NUM is working to aggressively and seamlessly usher in this important and needed upgrade!

If you want to get a secure web3 mobile number to protect yourself against the ever present risk of being SIM Swapped, get your 3NUM Shield now.