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Technology and society

Magda Skrzypek
Media development worker

Prague-based media development worker from Poland with a journalistic background. Previously worked on digital issues in Brussels. Piqs about digital issues, digital rights, data protection, new trends in journalism and anything else that grabs my attention.

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piqer: Magda Skrzypek
Wednesday, 12 December 2018

First, They Steal Your Phone Number. Then, They Take Your Personal Accounts.

Last month, VICE's science and technology site Motherboard launched CYBER, its first podcast focused on cyber and information security. Every week, host Ben Makuch talks to Motherboard senior staff writers Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai and Joseph Cox, who share important news about breaches and cyber safety. Nerding out is kept to a minimum, which makes the podcast viable for both tech news junkies and interested laymen, particularly since in the end, hacking can affect anyone, as seen in the number of recent high profile security incidents, such as the hacking of Democratic email servers in the 2016 elections or the Equifax data breach that disclosed personal information of nearly 150 million people.

“Hacking. Hackers. Disinformation campaigns. Encryption. The Cyber. This stuff gets complicated really fast, but Motherboard spends its time embedded in the infosec world so you don't have to,”

the outlet introduced its podcast. CYBER’s first episode focused on SIM hijacking, a scam in which hackers obtain their victim's mobile phone number through deception, to then use it to receive one-time codes via SMS and break into user accounts. The consequences of the hacking can range from minor swindles, such as the takeover of your Instagram or Twitter handle, to major frauds, such as the emptying of your bank account or online wallet.

In the episode, Motherboard showed that despite being a supposed extra layer of security, SMS-based two-factor authentication is not as secure as it promises. And the sobering yet irrefutable fact is that there is realistically not much you can do once a skilled hijacker decides to make you their target, apart from, if given a chance, talking them out of it. I know this may sound bizarre, but that is exactly what happened during a real SIM hijacking ransom that we get to listen to in the episode.

First, They Steal Your Phone Number. Then, They Take Your Personal Accounts.
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