Why phone scams are so difficult to tackle?
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live and work, and scammers havemoved to exploit the crisis on a mass scale for their own personal gain. Particularlythrough the use of phone and text messaging scams, which purport to be from arange of organisations that victims are familiar with, such as public bodies like HMRCand the NHS, as well as other firms such as banks and delivery firms.
Fraudsters are able to create a false sense of security by exploiting a vulnerability ina telephone identification protocol that dates back to 1975 called SS7, which tellsthe telephone network what number a user is calling or texting from. At the time theprotocol was developed, it was assumed that there would always be legitimateactivity [and] goodwill around the use of it, however, nowadays it’s being abused byhackers who can steal this presentation number, and then link it to their own number.
A move, which essentially makes it easy for hackers to hide behind what appears to be a legitimate number, to lure theirvictims into making small payments in exchange for providing a service such as delivering packages. However, because SS7 isstill central to the 2G and 3G parts of mobile phone networks that continue to carry our voice calls and text messages (evenif you have a 5G-enabled handset), experts say it won’t be until 5G networks have been fully rolled out that SS7 can bereplaced.