Have you ever thought about what happens to the data associated with your phone number when you get a new number? Well, telecom companies often recycle your old number and provide it to a new user. However, with your old number, all the data associated with it also becomes accessible to the new user and this could pose a privacy risk.
When you change your number, you don’t always immediately update all the information on your e-commerce portals or digital accounts. This puts you at risk of your information being accessed by the new user of your old number.
Researchers at Princeton University found the whole act of recycling numbers can put the users at security and privacy risks. The report revealed that a journalist after getting a new number was bombarded d with texts containing blood test results and spa appointment reservations. “We obtained 200 recycled numbers for one week and found 19 of them were still receiving security/privacy-sensitive calls and messages (e.g., authentication passcodes, prescription refill reminders). New owners who are unknowingly assigned a recycled number may realize the incentives to exploit upon receiving unsolicited sensitive communication, and become opportunistic adversaries,” Arvind Narayanan, one of the researchers said in the report.
These possible threats on numbers being recycled were also listed by the researchers:
1) Once a number is assigned to a new subscriber, they can phish the subscriber through SMS, the report states. Subscribers tend to fall for phishing attacks when the messages seem believable.
2) The attacker can also use the number to sign up for y sign up for various alerts, newsletters, campaigns, and robocalls.
3) Hackers can also use the recycled number break into profiles linked with the number t online via SMS-authenticated password resets.
” We signed up for one prepaid account at each of the two largest U.S. carriers—Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile. Both carriers provide an online interface for subscribers to change their phone number,” the report states.