Security and Privacy Risks of Number Recycling at Mobile Carriers in the United States

Kevin Lee, Arvind Narayanan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

We examined the security and privacy risks of phone number recycling in the United States. We sampled 259 phone numbers available to new subscribers at two major carriers, and found that 171 of them were tied to existing accounts at popular websites, potentially allowing those accounts to be hijacked. Additionally, a majority of available numbers led to hits on people search services, which provide personally identifiable information on previous owners. Furthermore, a significant fraction (100 of 259) of the numbers were linked to leaked login credentials on the web, which could enable account hijackings that defeat SMS-based multi-factor authentication. We also found design weaknesses in carriers' online interfaces and number recycling policies that could facilitate attacks involving number recycling. We close by recommending steps carriers, websites, and subscribers can take to reduce risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2021 APWG Symposium on Electronic Crime Research, eCrime 2021
PublisherIEEE Computer Society
ISBN (Electronic)9781665480291
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021
Event2021 APWG Symposium on Electronic Crime Research, eCrime 2021 - Virtual, Online, United States
Duration: Dec 1 2021Dec 3 2021

Publication series

NameeCrime Researchers Summit, eCrime
Volume2021-December
ISSN (Print)2159-1237
ISSN (Electronic)2159-1245

Conference

Conference2021 APWG Symposium on Electronic Crime Research, eCrime 2021
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityVirtual, Online
Period12/1/2112/3/21

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Information Systems
  • Information Systems and Management

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