SS7 vulnerability: A dream come true for cyber-criminals
Facebook, Whatsapp & Telegram accounts can be hacked by this SS7 vulnerability.
Hackers can take over pretty much everything belongs to you in the cyberspace by just knowing your mobile number! From text messages to Facebook posts, hackers can snoop around anywhere they want without much hustle. In fact, you don’t even have to be a skilled hacker to intercept or hijack secure communication channels like Whatsapp, Telegram, Facebook messenger. The popular messaging applications like Whatsapp and Telegram have recently added end-to-end encryption to their services to make them impossible to breach. Still, the hackers can read your messages, listen to your phone calls and even hijack your Facebook account by exploiting the vulnerability in the global mobile phone network framework. It is called SS7 vulnerability.
SS7 is a set of protocols established to identify the each connection for information interchange and to provide accurate billing. It also enables the international roaming, i.e. allowing users to move from one network to another. The SS7 protocols were standardized in the 1980s, and the protocol has not undergone much evolution since then, even in this cyber era. The SS7 protocols contain many loopholes which makes account hijacking a piece of cake for the hackers.
No matter whether the channel is encrypted or not, one with the right tools and information (mobile number) can access your personal space. According to experts, the SS7 protocols are not a vulnerability, but an option for nations to ease the surveillance process. In today’s internet-enhanced era, no tools are unreachable and no information is unattainable. With a cell phone trackerapplication and your mobile number, anyone can break any walls of protection. And there are so many network spying apps available for free on the Internet.
To hack Whatsapp and Telegram, all it takes is the skill to download a spying app and acquiring your mobile number. This tool will allow the hacker to create a duplicate Whatsapp/Telegram profile, where the hacker can bypass the encryption because the hacker gets authorized access to your account through exploiting SS7 vulnerability.
The hackers intercept the SMS, which contains the secret code to access the accounts.
The same technique is used to hijack Facebook accounts, in this case the attacker uses the option of ‘Forget Password’. The attacker hijacks the session while Facebook sends the text code to change the password. Once the attacker receives the text code, your Facebook account is good as dead and dangerous as hell.
Dealing with SS7 vulnerability
SS7 vulnerability causes a huge flaw in the two-factor authentication. It is one of the most popular security mechanism exist in the industry. One possible solution is setting up the two factor authentication process through an encrypted account.
To tackle the phone tappers, you can use end-to-end encryption apps. The encryption makes the voice distorted for the phone tappers, even if they managed to monitor your call.
Evading the location trackers is a bit tricky. You can stay off the cell phone network and use wi-fi networks to avoid it, but advanced equipments can locate your IP address.
Telephone networks are not meant to secure, because it shares a global infrastructure. Latest technologies like 4G are somewhat free from SS7 vulnerability, but it won’t stop a strong-willed hacker. Understanding the telecom networks and altering your cyber-habits accordingly may keep your cyber-life secure.