Cellphone users warned to guard against hackers who try to hijack mobile devices


With apps controlling more and more aspects of our life, from home security to social media and email to banking, a person’s smartphone is more valuable than ever.”I’d even argue that probably your phone number is more important than your social security number,” said Dr. Terrill Frantz, of Harrisburg University. That may seem like a stretch until someone who has had their phone service stolen speaks out.”I had never heard of this crime before,” Rob Ross said.After he was victimized, Ross started a website to warn people about this new kind of crime.”The hacker then had complete control of my phone service,” he said.Frantz, a cybersecurity expert, said it’s easy for hackers to do.”They call your phone company and impersonate you and have the phone number directed from your physical phone to their physical phone,” Frantz said.If that happens, a cellphone’s owner can be cut from a key feature many banks are using online to identify him or her. It’s called two-factor authentication. The first factor is a standard login procedure, using a username and password. The second factor is a unique code that’s sent via text to a cellphone. The phone’s owner then has to go back to the bank’s website and enter the code sent to his or her phone. But if the phone’s owner no longer has phone service, he or she is cut off from their money.””So now two-factor authentication doesn’t work because I can get your phone,” Frantz said.After his phone service was hijacked, Ross learned his bank accounts had been cleaned out.”I didn’t know literally right at that moment that the majority of my life savings was being stolen,” Ross said.There are steps to take to stay protected. Cellphone owners should contact their cellphone provider and ask to use every security feature available that’s designed to prevent hackers from hijacking a phone. Another option is to put a freeze on credit information used to open a cellphone account.

With apps controlling more and more aspects of our life, from home security to social media and email to banking, a person’s smartphone is more valuable than ever.

“I’d even argue that probably your phone number is more important than your social security number,” said Dr. Terrill Frantz, of Harrisburg University.

That may seem like a stretch until someone who has had their phone service stolen speaks out.

“I had never heard of this crime before,” Rob Ross said.

After he was victimized, Ross started a website to warn people about this new kind of crime.

“The hacker then had complete control of my phone service,” he said.

Frantz, a cybersecurity expert, said it’s easy for hackers to do.

“They call your phone company and impersonate you and have the phone number directed from your physical phone to their physical phone,” Frantz said.

If that happens, a cellphone’s owner can be cut from a key feature many banks are using online to identify him or her. It’s called two-factor authentication. The first factor is a standard login procedure, using a username and password. The second factor is a unique code that’s sent via text to a cellphone. The phone’s owner then has to go back to the bank’s website and enter the code sent to his or her phone. But if the phone’s owner no longer has phone service, he or she is cut off from their money.”

“So now two-factor authentication doesn’t work because I can get your phone,” Frantz said.

After his phone service was hijacked, Ross learned his bank accounts had been cleaned out.

“I didn’t know literally right at that moment that the majority of my life savings was being stolen,” Ross said.

There are steps to take to stay protected. Cellphone owners should contact their cellphone provider and ask to use every security feature available that’s designed to prevent hackers from hijacking a phone. Another option is to put a freeze on credit information used to open a cellphone account.

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