5 ways leaked phone numbers can be used
In today’s increasingly interconnected world, phone numbers have become more than just contact information; they now act as gateways to numerous digital services and are essential for accessing the personal and professional aspects of people’s lives.
However, this growing importance comes with a price. The security of handphone numbers has never been more critical, as leaked numbers can expose individuals to many risks and potential exploitation. In the hands of malicious actors, leaked phone numbers become a powerful tool for committing fraud, launching targeted scams, and causing significant harm to individuals and organizations alike.
In Southeast Asia, everyone with a Malaysian mobile phone number continued to experience a surge in scam calls, and here’s why.
According to Gogolook’s 2022 Annual Fraud Report, 73% of mobile phone numbers affecting over 21 million people in Malaysia, were leaked or sold to scammers. This statistic positions Malaysia with the highest number of breached cell phone numbers.
In addition to mobile phone numbers, the report revealed that the most common types of private information leaks in Malaysia, Taiwan, and Thailand include login passwords and names. Following these, address, country, date of birth, and email leaks were also prevalent.
As society continues to embrace the digital age, it is imperative to recognize the value of safeguarding handphone numbers and proactively mitigate the dangers of their inadvertent exposure. Understanding the risks of leaked handphone numbers is the first step toward a more secure digital future.
The effects of leaked phone numbers
This article examines how leaked handphone numbers can be misused by malicious actors, highlighting potential risks and emphasizing the importance of safeguarding personal information. Here are the 5 ways leaked numbers can be exploited:
Targeted scams towards the owner of the number
When malicious actors acquire a person’s handphone number, they can craft highly targeted and personalized scams. This could involve impersonating a trusted contact or company and using the individual’s personal information to make the scam appear more credible. The victim might receive calls, text messages, or even instant messages on social media apps urging them to share sensitive information or make payments. These targeted scams can be highly effective, exploiting the victim’s trust and familiarity with the supposed contact.
Used to access banking info
Leaked phone numbers can also be used to access victims’ banking information. Many banks and financial institutions use mobile numbers for authentication purposes, such as sending one-time passwords (OTPs) or verification codes. Cybercriminals can attempt to intercept these messages or employ social engineering techniques to trick victims into revealing the codes. Once they access the victims’ accounts, the criminals can conduct unauthorized transactions, steal funds, or use the information for other malicious purposes.
Business email compromise targeting employees
In a business email compromise (BEC) attack, cybercriminals impersonate high-level executives or other employees within a company to manipulate their colleagues into divulging sensitive information or making fraudulent payments. By obtaining employees’ handphone numbers, the attackers can enhance the credibility of their impersonation, sending convincing text messages or even calling the targeted individuals. This increases the likelihood of a successful BEC attack, leading to significant financial losses and reputational damage for the company.
Subscribing to unwanted services
Another way leaked handphone numbers can be misused is by signing up the victims for unwanted services, such as premium SMS services, which charge fees to the user’s mobile account. The victim might suddenly receive unwanted messages, incur unexpected charges, and struggle to unsubscribe from these services. This can lead to financial and privacy-related concerns and frustration and inconvenience for the affected individuals.
Leaked handphone numbers can also enable cyberstalkers to harass and intimidate their victims. A cyberstalker may incessantly call, message, or track the victim’s online activities, causing significant distress and anxiety. In extreme cases, the stalker could use the victim’s handphone number to obtain more personal information or even physically locate the individual, posing a severe threat to their safety and well-being.
In conclusion, the digital age has amplified the importance of handphone numbers, making their security crucial. Leaked numbers expose individuals to various forms of exploitation, such as targeted scams, unauthorized banking access, business email compromise, and cyberstalking. Recognizing these risks and adopting best practices for safeguarding personal information is essential.
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