Telecommunications operators in Nigeria and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) have agreed to abolish SIM swap system in the telecommunications ecosystem in the next few months.
This coming against the back drop of CBN granting telecom operators’ subsidiaries financial service operational license which will enable them operate as banks.
The Director, Payment Systems and Management, CBN, Samuel Okojere disclosed this while responding to duplication of national identity and need to harmonise different data collection systems in the country at the celebration of Verve at 10 event held in Lagos over the weekend.
According to him, “we have been meeting with telecom operators on harmonising operators’ data with banks’ BVN as operators’ subsidiaries have been granted financial services operating license and to prevent SIM swap fraud.
“In the next couple of months SIM swap will die a natural death and subscribers’ phone numbers will be tied to their mobile phone International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number. This is a unique identification or serial number that all mobile phones and smartphones have. We are also upgrading BVN to a national identity for payments in Nigeria”.
He added that this system will make it impossible for anyone that steals phone to make use of such phone.
It would be recalled that Cyber security experts have berated telecommunications operators over the prevalence of SIM swap fraud in the country, arguing that such fraud could be possible with an insider in the network operator of the subscriber that is targeted.
SIM swapping is a sophisticated form of fraud and falls under social engineering. Fraudsters will distribute phishing emails, trying to ascertain as much personal information from victims as possible.
Responding to this the Chief Technical officer, Digital Encode, Oluseyi Akindeinde said that SIM swap is not new. “A lot of the perpetrators have insiders in the telecommunications operator that allow them to do this. Nothing really can be done to check it unless they checkmate the guys inside the telcos,” he said.
Also speaking, the Managing Director, Serianu, William Makatiani said that SIM swap has become a lucrative enterprise in Africa particularly because of the increased adoption of mobile money services and mobile based authentication.
“Attackers gather enough information on a target such as ID details; Phone numbers etc through social engineering and create a false identity. Using this information, the attackers can contact the service provider and request for SIM card replacement and thereafter start transacting using your phone.
“Since most people transact through their phones, a malicious attacker can easily access your bank account and transfer money to parallel malicious accounts that they’ve created. The attacker can intercept the authentication codes sent to your phone number and also read SMS messages that may be confidential,” he said.