Myriad Connect, the mobile operators’ service provider, announced Tuesday (Mar. 7) the launch of a new service designed to counter SIM swap fraud, which is a growing threat that’s costing banks and mobile network providers millions of dollars.
According to a press release, Myriad said as it currently stands when a customer alerts an operator that their SIM card is damaged, lost or stolen, the SIM is deactivated and a new one is issued. But according to Myriad, criminal groups and insiders at financial organizations and network operators collude to get personal data and then pretend to be the owner of the phone to get a new SIM. Once the SIM is activated by the bad guy, they can access bank accounts and other sensitive information via the SIM.
To combat that, Myriad Connect said its service can help to reduce SIM swap by providing a real time check on the SIM, which cannot be tampered with via compromised third parties within an operator or bank. Using USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) authentication, no data is held with any third party, providing a more secure service. Myriad said a clear audit trail is also established, where the user’s identity is verified by a party external to the transaction. This results in a technology that will greatly enhance the security of transactions vulnerable to SIM swap fraud.
“Even the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the U.S. has identified that SMS is a risk,” explained Paul Kingsbury, VP business development at Myriad Connect. “It is not fit to secure financial services as it can be vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks such as SIM swap. It poses a challenge for operators as there is no audit trail, opening a door to large-scale fraud through a single point of failure.”
He went on to say that the threat from SIM swap is the highest in regions where mobile banking penetration is high.
“Whereas in the U.K., the typical amount stolen is in the low thousands of pounds, in South Africa there have been a few cases of millions of Rand going missing. The challenge for banks and operators is how to protect customers not only from criminal gangs, but often invisible, compromised staff,” he said.