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Beware of fake calls that promise upgrade to 5G from 4G

Eagerly waiting to jump on the 5G bandwagon? Be warned. Hackers have started luring people into phishing scams by sending calling them and sending them malicious links.

Cybersecurity experts and police of various States have issued advisories asking people not to jump the gun when they get a suspicious link that promises an upgradation.

With telecom operators getting ready to launch 5G services, scores of subscribers are longing to upgrade their sims to 5G from 4G to enjoy the benefits.

“Scammers have started calling people, posing as customer care executives of telecom service providers and offering assistance to customers for upgrading their SIM cards from 4G to 5G,” a Check Point Software Technologies executive said.

Their modus operandi was to send phishing links to coerce victims into disclosing personal and financial information.

Mumbai police have tweeted about a new scam in which scammers demanded money from victims in exchange for assistance in upgrading to 5G. “Cops of Pune and Hyderabad too have issued similar advisories,” he said.

“The authorities have urged citizens to refrain from providing their OTPs to any telemarketers because doing so could result in the complete deletion of their bank accounts,” he said.

SMS phishing
“We have observed a spike in the spread of SMS Phishing, which uses SMS messages as the attack vector for malware distribution. Using SMS messages as an attack vector may seem rudimentary, but just like email phishing, they are extremely efficient,” Sundar Balasubramanian, Managing Director at Check Point Software, India and SAARC, said.

These attempts often imitate trusted brands or personal contacts to entice the victim to click on a link or share personal details in confidence. This method has proven particularly successful: after one device has been compromised, its entire contact list is up for grabs, creating an endless cycle of possible victims.

“We believe this is just the beginning of such scams. With the commercial availability of 5G and consumers excited to use the advanced services, such scams are bound to increase in number, particularly in the early phases of adoption when people are still finding their way around using the 5G services. We expect to see the number, scale and sophistication of these cyberattacks increase overtime. In such instances, adopting a prevention-first approach is the best approach,” he said.

How to thwart attacks
The cybersecurity solutions company asked people to enable two-factor authentication, using another layer of protection beyond the basic password.

“It could be a question, biometric data or a one-time code sent to your device. This creates an extra layer of security that prevents an attacker from being able to access an account with just a password,” he said.

He also wanted people to not use easy and simple passwords.

Wrong spellings
A common trick that hackers use is similar looking websites, or phishing sites. “A company will never ask for a customer’s credentials on email. If in doubt, always go to the official page or platform of the company you want to access,” he cautioned.

Check Point also wanted people to keep all software updated.

It says an organisation is being attacked 1,742 times a week on average in the last six months. This is far higher than the global average of 1,167 attacks. The Hindu BusinessLine

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