When we start looking at security, things are perhaps moving for the worst by the day. First, it was Windows OS that was susceptible, and slowly but surely, iOS, Linux and other major operating systems fell prey. Next was the turn of cellphone OS, iPods and other gadgets. Now, the latest tantrum is the SIM card in the Indian market. Indian cellphone numbers are getting hijacked by hackers, and all that the telecom operators could do is warn users. Amen to the one and only lame passive approach!
News is storming in that millions of Indian users have received calls landing from a variety of prefixes which are supposedly originating from a group of hackers from Pakistan. I suspect our ‘friendly’ neighbor although there is no mention of it in the official press releases.
Right, so here is what you have to avoid. Stop picking up calls that land up weird numbers, which you cannot decipher. The three top numbers are starting with +92, #90 and #09 – so do not pick up these calls. Next, understand how the telephone numbers work. If the caller is within India, the caller number starts with a +91, followed by city code – if the caller is from Bangalore, city code is 80 or 080. Spend some time understanding the nuances of Indian phone number allotment, and you could be in good hands.
There is no faith left with the telecom operators to tighten the security around these phishing scams. A very small percentage of Indians will have access to websites publishing such news, and the newspapers across India. They might be cautious while answering their next call. What about the rest of the folks – especially the ones living in rural India? They are bound to fall into this trap.
Here is what the Indian telecom industry must do. Change the ciphers, reconfigure the encryption codes on all SIM cards. Replace the cards within a month or two to reflect the strengthened cipher characteristics. Start with rural India and not from places like Mumbai. I know all these costs money, but the price to pay by not tightening the screws is whole lot more to pay.