An Overview of SS7 attack
SS7 stands for Signaling System 7. SS7 attack is a type of security threat in which the attacker takes the advantages of the flaws of the design of signaling system 7 network which helps them to track the location, theft the data, intercept the text as well as in eavesdropping. SS7 is commonly known as Common Channel Signaling System 7 (CCSS7) in the USA. However, in the UK it is called as Common Channel Interoffice Signaling 7 (CCIS7).
Nowadays life without telecommunication has become unimaginable. The Internet of Things (IoT) has now spreading like wild fire and people now frequently use e-banking, online payment, online shopping, e-governance, etc. But due to the flaws in SS7 network there can be the failure of the mobile network which can paralyze the whole system. These are several instances of SS7 attack where hackers take the advantages of flaws in SS7 network and steals the money form the bank accounts.
Consequence of SS7 attacks
SS7 is a type of telephony signaling protocol. It was created in the year 1980 by Telcos. It is also powered by many other telecom operators all over the world including AT&T and Verizon. SS7 telephone is responsible for interconnecting and exchanging data. It also helps in routing calls as well as sending and receiving the text messages. Apart from that it also enables roaming and other services. But if there is any vulnerability in the SS7 then taking that advantage of weak signaling system, the hacker can listen to the private phone calls and can read the text messages despite the advance encryption that are used by the cellular network.
Once the hacker get the sensitive information like One Time Password (OTP), Bank account number, CVV no. etc. they can easily hack the bank account of the victim. As soon the hacker gets the required information he can log into the bank account of the victim online and can easily transfer the money out. In online transfer generally bank sends One Time Password (OTP) to the user for authentication purpose and since the hacker knows the victims phone number he will receive the One Time Password (OTP) and can easily do the transaction. Moreover what the hacker can do is that they can purchase the access to a fake telecom provider. After that they can redirect the phone number of the victim to a handset that is actually controlled by them. They can use SS7 for redirecting the SMS that contains the One Time Password (OTP) which are sent by the bank to their customer for authorizing the transfer of fund between the accounts.
Apart from that hacker can also hack WhatsApp and Telegram if they come to know about the flaws in SS7. If a hacker becomes successful to hack the WhatsApp account then he controls the WhatsApp account according to his wishes. He can even get the ability to send and receive messages. The most important thing is that the hacker can send message on behalf of victim as well as read the confidential message even without breaking the strong encryption protocol.
How to protect yourself from SS7 Attack?
In the modern era of digital gadget, wireless network and Internet there is always a threat of cybercrimes. So, it is very essential to implement some security methods that can help you to protect from the possible harms of cybercrimes.
For avoiding SS7 attack it is recommended to avoid two-factor authentication that are generally used through SMS text for receiving the One Time Password (OTP). Better it is advisable to depend on the cryptography based security keys as the second authentication factor.
Apart from that it is also necessary to follow the following measures which will help to protect the users from sophisticated SS7 attacks:
- Use of Virtual Private Network (VPN).
- Use of end-to-end encryption in the popular messaging app such as WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Instagram, etc.
- Avoid the use of carrier network for any kind of personal conversation.
- Avoid sending sensitive information through insecure media such as Internet.
- Make sure that the data that are sent over the wireless network are encrypted.
Thus, you can avoid SS7 attack if you follow the above preventive measures.