Category Archives: AT&T

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US Crypto Users Hit by Sim Jacking Flurry

US Crypto Users Hit by Sim Jacking Flurry

Over the past week, the US cryptocurrency community has been reeling from a recent wave of sustained SIM swapping attacks.

The attacks were limited to the US alone and seemed to have targeted T-Mobile and AT&T customers.

SIM swapping/jacking is a type of account takeover fraud that generally targets a weakness in two-factor authentication and two-step verification, where the second factor or step is an SMS or a call placed to a mobile telephone. Effectively the perpetrator uses various techniques (usually social engineering) to transfers a victim’s phone number to their own SIM card.

My personal identity was hacked last week. The attacker was able to steal $100k+ in a sweep of my Coinbase account. I’m equal parts embarrassed, hurt, and deeply remorseful.

In an effort to raise awareness about the attack, I wrote about it here:

— Sean Coonce (@cooncesean) May 20, 2019

Attackers saw the rise in cryptocurrency as an opportunity to broaden their activities and make some serious money, although such events have been occurring for the past ten years. The number of attacks rocketed in 2017 as crypto took off. 2018 registered a number of SIM swap attacks in the US, but these numbers appear to a have reduced after police intervention. Caleb Tuttle, a detective with the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office explained how the attacks work:

“The first is when the attacker bribes or blackmails a mobile store employee into assisting in the crime. The second involves current and/or former mobile store employees who knowingly abuse their access to customer data and the mobile company’s network. Finally, crooked store employees may trick unwitting associates at other stores into swapping a target’s existing SIM card with a new one.”

I’ve been hearing about another spate of SIM-jackings involving @TMobile, possibly involving bypassed PINs, which hint at insiders or weak processes.

The traditional telecom companies won’t clean up their act without a class action lawsuit and heavy fines. Switch to @googlefi.

— Emin Gün Sirer (@el33th4xor) June 2, 2019

However on an encouraging note for cryptocurrency users, it has been reported that SIM swappers are usually caught, as phone providers usually pick-up the excessive log-ins associated with the activity.


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Bitpay: Big Businesses Will Push Bitcoin Price Higher

Bitpay_ Big Businesses Will Push Bitcoin Price Higher

Bitcoin payments processor Bitpay’s chief commercial officer, Sonny Singh, has told Bloomberg TV that the current surprise bull run taking place in the crypto market is a direct result of growing interest coming from large businesses in the industry.

And the interest, he believes, will only grow over the coming months, along with piling endorsements to expand Bitcoin’s price range even higher than many will expect.

Singh referenced many big names now making the headlines either in adopting blockchain technology or in direct implementation of their own cryptocurrencies, such as Facebook’s GlobalCoin and JP Morgan’s JPM Coin:

“You’re starting to see that these currencies have real use cases around the world, and it’s making people really excited now because they can see the light at the end of the tunnel for these use cases.”

Singh also reflected on the current duplicity of regulators, but warned that as Bitcoin gained increased exposure and mainstream dominance, they would not soon be able to favor private crypto and go against decentralized ones:

“How’s the regulator going to show that JPMorgan we like, but bitcoin and ethereum we don’t like?… It’s going to be hard. They’re going to have to make a classification: ‘digital currencies — these are the rules around all digital currencies.’ And that’s what the industry’s waiting for — to have regulations that we can follow and adhere to to prove that everything is legal in an organized way.”

Bitpay itself was recently in the news with another big-name corporation getting on board the Bitcoin train when it signed with telecoms giant AT&T to help them accept Bitcoin for payments. In February, it helped onboard the Wikimedia Foundation, allowing the non-profit to accept Bitcoin payments.


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Sim Swapping Victims Sue T-Mobile and AT&T

The Silver Miller law firm, which has been on the forefront of cryptocurrency lawsuits including the class action lawsuit against YouTube regarding BitConnect, is suing the major cell service providers AT&T and T-Mobile over their roles in facilitating sim swapping.

In August 2018 it came to light that a crime ring led by Joel Ortiz had stolen USD 5 million in cryptocurrency from over 40 victims. BitcoinNews correctly speculated at the time that the mobile carriers may be liable for the damages since ultimately they were the ones who handed over control of victim’s sim cards to the hackers.

Silver Miller asserts that T-Mobile and AT&T had holes in their security protocols and did not properly train employees, resulting in employees giving control of sim cards to thieves. Once the hackers had control over a sim card they could access financial information, allowing them to drain cryptocurrency wallets, as well as credit cards and bank accounts.

One of the clients Silver Miller is representing lost USD 621,000, and that was after AT&T supposedly increased account security after an attempted hack on the client. There are 2 clients using T-Mobile who lost USD 400,000 and USD 250,000 respectively.

Essentially, a hacker can plea for assistance with customer support, tricking the customer support into not following proper identification protocols, resulting in the loss of a client’s life savings. Silver Miller is considering additional sim swapping lawsuits against Verizon, Sprint PCS, Cricket Wireless, Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, and Metro PCS. The goal is to restore the client’s life savings and improve the policies of cell phone carriers to prevent further sim swapping.

It could be argued that cryptocurrency thefts via sim swapping would not happen if the victims properly stored their cryptocurrency. Bitcoin private keys, especially for large amounts of money, should only be stored in core wallets and not on mobile wallets.

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Crypto Investor Sues AT&T for $224M After Phone Hack Losses

A cryptocurrency investor in the US has filed a lawsuit against his cell phone service provider AT&T on the grounds of gross security negligence that lead to his personal loss of USD 24 million in crypto.

The plaintiff, California resident Michael Terpin, filed a 69-page complaint with the US District Court in Los Angeles on Wednesday alleging that AT&T not only violated its statutory duties and Privacy Policy commitments but went so far as to willingly cooperate with the phone hacker. Terpin claimed that he was victim to digital identity theft two times in seven months when his digital assets were taken via his cell phone number.

Suspicious circumstances were cited by Terpin regarding the actions of at least one AT&T employee. He alleged that ”insider cooperation with the hacker” took place after a store employee offered out his phone number without verifying the person’s identity or requesting any of his private information. Terpin’s complaint details that his number was then used to break into his cryptocurrency accounts and compares the incident to a hotel providing a thief with a fake ID the key to a room and the safe to steal from the rightful owner.

The legal complaint seeks from AT&T USD 200 million in punitive damage and USD 24 million in compensatory damages.

AT&T responded to the accusations, providing CNBC with a statement reading: “We dispute these allegations and look forward to presenting our case in court.”

Terpin may well have been considered a profitable target by potential thieves due to his work in the cryptocurrency industry. In 2013, he co-founded Bitcoin angel investor group BitAngels, as well as the BitAngels/Dapps Fund.

The cryptocurrency community has recently placed a significant focus on increased security as imperative for increasing adoption levels and seeing market prices recover from a relatively poor performance this year, although in this instance it appears to be only AT&T at fault.


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