August 23, 2021
T-Mobile, the mobile communications giant, has been hacked once again. This is the fourth breach reported since 2020, L.A. Times reports.
Hackers often target larger companies for profit, as hacking statistics show. On Monday, August 16, the company confirmed that it was hacked. The attackers stole valuable information about nearly 50 million users. 40 million of them were former and prospective customers who applied for plans, whereas 7.8 million were postpaid users. The attack was first suspected when on the weekend before August 16 an individual claimed to be on his way to sell the stolen data after having breached T-Mobile security. According to the company, the data that was breached included Social Security numbers, birth dates, names, and driver’s license information.
Even though the number of people affected is huge, T-Mobile assures that it is less than half of the company’s total users. Additionally, the communication giant promises to notify all of its customers that have been affected. It will also offer two years of identity theft protection from McAfee, a widely used mobile security company.
What Are the Possible Consequences?
Over the past few years, there have been several major data breaches and it is likely that the information exposed by T-Mobile is already circulating on the dark web. Brian Krebs, an American journalist and investigative reporter, warns that those whose data was stolen are much more likely to fall victim to identity theft and phishing scams.
Since Social Security numbers are used by the government and banks it is likely that the stolen SSNs will be used for fraudulent credit card activities. Those whose numbers were exposed face a further risk of a SIM-swap attack. Since many people use their numbers to verify their identity, hackers can use their phone numbers to impersonate them online.
One thing compromised users can do is to freeze all their credit files which will prevent others from creating accounts in your name. Placing a freeze on your credit files is free but you’ll have to get in touch with the three major credit bureaus. This can easily be done online. Additionally, you can sign up for an identity theft protection service that charges a monthly fee to help you protect yourself from fraud.
T-Mobile has also suggested that users follow certain steps to protect themselves from fraud. They need to create a PIN for their mobile account as an additional layer of security. If they already have one, T-Mobile advises users to set a new one. Another step includes activating T-Mobile’s Account Takeover Protection feature that adds a further level of protection. The last piece of advice from the company is to change the password you use to open your online mobile account.
According to identity theft statistics every two seconds someone becomes a victim of identity theft. This is why taking steps against online identity theft is becoming highly important. Creating good passwords, changing PINs once in a while, as well as using VPN services when browsing online are all measures that can protect your data against identity theft.