October, 2021
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StopSIMCrime Summit

What to do

Follow each of the steps below to help protect yourself

Steps to take immediately

Step 1: Panic Correctly
Do not let emotions cause you to do irrational and counter-productive things. 1.1. Your first step is triage and damage control. In order to maximize your own effectiveness, you’re going to need to have the cognitive capacity to multitask effectively. 1.2. Deep breaths.
Step 2: Call Your Mobile Carrier
Once you’ve been SIM swapped, your phone no longer has the ability to make phone calls. However, you can call using a landline or from Google Hangouts / Voice, FreedomPop, Line, Skype, or Viber. However you do it, report the SIM swap to your mobile service provider. 2.1. Briefly explain the situation at hand. 2.2. Ask that your phone number be “turned off,” as in removed from the device it was just moved to, as in not working for the attacker nor working for you. Cutting off the attacker’s access is more important than you having access right now. 2.3. Ask for your phone number moved back to your SIM / device. As would be the case, they will likely now decide that you must absolutely, positively be in-store with a government-issued ID. But, it never hurts to ask. 2.4. Ask for and write down the employee’s name / employee ID number and the date / time of your call(s) for your records and future conversations with law enforcement. 2.5. Ask for and write down the case ID number and / or support ticket number for your records and future conversations with law enforcement. If they push back at all, ask them how you are supposed to reference your case when filing a report with law enforcement. 2.6. Request that they (your mobile service provider) retain all logs. Specifically ask for the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number, time of call, employees involved in fulfillment of the request, and any other information they have related to your account, the SIM porting, and this situation. Note: they may not disclose certain information to you, but you can ask. Priority should be that it's saved somewhere for law enforcement.
Step 3: Lock Down Your Accounts
3.1. Secure any compromised accounts, assess the damage, and start gathering the most critical information for investigators and law enforcement. 3.2. Take notes and screenshot everything you do. For example, you may kill an attacker's active session, BUT you will want their device type, time accessed, and IP address once the dust settles. Also, being filled with adrenaline while multi-tasking results in terrible, terrible memory and you don't want to repeat work.
Step 4: Access and change your password for your primary email account(s)
4.1. Access the account. Screenshot. 4.2. Go to your settings and turn on 2FA via Google Authenticator. 4.3. If it was already enabled, remove it and enable it fresh. 4.4. Screenshot and then remove any recovery emails or phone numbers to prevent another avenue in. 4.5. Screenshot and then remove all devices, apps, active sessions, app passwords, “log in with….” sites, connected accounts, etc. Note: If you cannot access your Google because the attacker has changed the password, follow this guide by Chris Robinson on how to start the recovery process for your account. You should do this now.
Step 5: Check your email for any password reset emails or “you just signed in on a new device” emails
5.1. Check your spam, archive, and trash folders. 5.2. Screenshot excessively. 5.3. Write down any and all the services you see mentioned in these emails.
Step 6: Make a prioritized list of accounts to secure
6.1. Accounts that you know the attacker has accessed or attempted to access (such as those in the password reset emails). 6.2. Critical accounts that can lead to further compromise of data or financial loss (other email addresses, exchanges, password managers, cloud storage, banks). 6.3. Accounts that could be accessed with the information found in accounts an attacker has already accessed. 6.4. Any non-critical accounts that could be damaging if compromised, such as older email addresses, social media, messaging, etc.
Step 7: Starting at the top of your prioritized list, secure all of your accounts
7.1. Log in to each account on your list. Screenshot. 7.2. Change the account password to a strong, unique password. 7.3. Enable 2FA via Google Authenticator. If it was already enabled, remove it and enable it fresh. 7.4. Screenshot and remove any insecure recovery or 2FA methods (e.g., email addresses, phone numbers). Note if the attacker updated any of this information (perhaps to their own email address?) 7.5. Remove the phone number linked to the account and/ or replace it with one the attacker does not control. 7.6. Enable any and all security features that are offered. 7.7. Enable any and all notifications that are offered. 7.8. Screenshot and then remove all devices, apps, active sessions, app passwords, “log in with….” sites, connected accounts, etc. 7.9. Make notes about any financial loss. 7.10. Make a note if there are signs the attacker accessed that account or made any changes.
Step 8: Secure your exchanges and any other services that hold money (Paypal, Banks)
Take additional measures for your financial accounts. 8.1. If you have any money or crypto currently in these services and you can confidently withdraw to an address or bank account you know you control and could not be compromised, do so now. Initiating the withdrawal will put those funds in a “locked” state for a period of time. 8.2. If you have any money or crypto in these services but you aren’t confident about moving it, you can email them and request they lock down your account and prevent any withdrawals, deposits, trades, buys, sells, transfers, and/or logins until further notice. 8.3. Enable any special security features (e.g., Kraken’s GSL). 8.4. Screenshot and remove any withdrawal addresses, linked bank accounts, credit card numbers or banking information, especially those that could be used to withdraw USD from your bank account  8.5. Screenshot and remove any “confirmed devices” or “active sessions” or “browsers that don’t need a second factor” 8.6. Screenshot and remove any and all API keys or OAuth applications
Step 9: Check your Telegram for active sessions
It is extremely common for SIM-swappers to go for Telegram accounts shortly after attempting cryptocurrency exchange account access. 9.1. Navigate to “Settings” -> “Privacy and Security” -> “Active Sessions.” 9.2. You should now see all devices that have access to your Telegram and messages. Screenshot this screen. 9.3. Click the “Terminate All Other Sessions” button. 9.4. Then, returning to “Privacy and Security.” enable “Two-Step Verification.” Use an email that is not compromised. 9.5. Change the phone number to one that is not compromised.
Step 10: Access or Return to Any Accounts You Haven’t Pull Logs From
10.1. Check this for each cryptocurrency exchange, bank account, or any other breached account. 10.2. Save anything and everything, even if you don’t think it’s important. Some examples: Gmail: https://support.google.com/mail/answer/45938?hl=en & https://myactivity.google.com/item. Google Suite (a custom domain but with Gmail/Google): ask your administrator to pull audits and logs. They are very in depth, such as https://support.google.com/a/answer/4580120?hl=en. Coinbase: https://www.coinbase.com/settings/account\_activity.
Step 11: Call your phone provider again
See what information you can get from them at this time. 11.1. Ask them how you can reference your case when filing a report with law enforcement. See if they have any advice for you. 11\. 2. Sometimes they are able to reveal certain information, such as how this occurred, when it occurred, if it was done in-person or over the phone. Sometimes they will even give you the IMEI and other details. Note all of this. 11.3. You should also discuss and implement whatever options they have available to secure your account and ensure this can’t happen again. Sometimes, magically, there now is another layer of protection they can offer you that they didn't think to mention before.
Step 12: File a report with law enforcement
12.1 Start filing a law enforcement report. In most countries, the local police are not who you want to go to as most local police won’t even know the proper place to report it. 12.2 Depending on your country, there are different places you need to report to. You can use this handy list for reference. If you’re in the US, then you’ll want to report it via IC3. Please note that IC3s don’t generate report numbers, so be sure to save a copy of your report upon submission! Ensure your report includes... A. Your mobile carrier, phone number, time and date of incident, and everything else you’ve recorded regarding your interactions with your mobile carrier (e.g., “they should have the IMEI handy”). B. Steps you’ve taken to subsequently secure your phone number (e.g.. you’ve added a passphrase). C. Accounts that have been accessed (e.g., Gmail and Coinbase) with specific timestamps, device information, IP information, and other data as applicable. Be sure to include the obvious - your email address, the account information (username or registered email) for the exchange, etc. D. Any asset loss, including withdrawal transactions as applicable. If there is a large number of transactions out of a personal wallet or exchange account, note affected personal wallet addresses with a statement like “transactions beginning on X date at Y time were not initiated by me.” E. Any contact the SIM-swappers have made with you post-breach; this will typically be via Telegram or SMS. Annotate account names, how they contacted you (SMS, Telegram, via a third-party), profile pictures, usernames, and the full content of messages. F. Any extremely sensitive data that could have been accessed (KYC documents, trade secrets, etc).

What to do before you get SIM jacked

Step 1: Reduce the chance of an attacker successfully swapping your SIM
1.1 Use a **numerical passcode,** like 1234. Except, please don’t use 1234, nor the last four of your social, nor your birth date. 1.2 You may also use a **passphrase**, like “password1234.” Except, please don’t use “password1234,” nor your pet’s name, nor a password you use elsewhere. 1.3 Lastly, and maybe the most important one, is requiring **in-person presence** at a store with a government-issued ID.
Step 2: Reduce the consequences if your SIM is swapped
2.1 **Don’t use your primary cell phone number for business or for securing or logging into accounts.** 2.2 You can **use a Google Voice number** for SMS verification for websites and services that insist on using SMS 2FA or otherwise require a phone number. As long as the Google account you have associated with this Google Voice number is secure, you will be more secure. 2.3 **Secure your Google Account/s.** it is insanely important that you thoroughly secure every single one of your Google accounts. Not just your personal one. Not just your crypto one. Not just your business one. All. Of. Them. Please. 🙏 2.4 **Secure your Apple/iCloud Account/s.** If you are uncertain if your account is secure or need assistance, we recommend hiring a Certified Apple Specialist that can walk you through the process and help you audit your Apple security. 2.5 **Secure your Password Manager. **The two most recommended and accessible solutions are LastPass and 1Password. These are “cloud-based,” although all your secret data is protected and encrypted by a “Master Password” that never leaves your computer/device. This means that there is no “forgot password” button and no way to access your account if you forget your master password. 2.6 **Do not use Authy. **If you get SIM-swapped and they recover your Authy codes on their device, they will have access to all your SMS 2FA codes AND your token-based 2FA codes! **If you insist on using Authy, you must ensure it's secure.** - Open the menu and then select "Settings." - Change your phone number to the secure-secret Google Voice number from earlier. - Change your email to that super-secret email you set up earlier. - Navigate to "accounts" and make sure backups are off. This prevents an attacker from recovering all your codes via email + password. - Navigate to "Devices" and turn OFF "Allow multi-device." This prevents an attacker from recovering all your codes via a single SMS. - Select any other devices and click "Remove." This ensures you don't have an old phone lying around with all your codes. 2.7 **Secure your Telegram. **You can make your Telegram a bit more secure by enabling both the "local passcode" and "two-step verification" settings. 2.8** Secure ALL the Things. **Set up Google Authenticator on every website or service you use that allows it, and remove your phone number / SMS recovery. 2.9 **Avoid using sites that only support SMS 2-Factor Authentication. **Insist on using services that offer better security. If there is no suitable replacement for the service and you must continue using it, utilize your new Google Voice number for SMS activation/account reset.
Step 3: Prepare yourself
When you have your SIM swapped, you will no longer have the ability to make calls or send text messages, nor will you be able to connect to the internet unless you are connected via Wi-Fi. Take the time now to set up and practice making a phone call without your SIM card. **Select & set up a VOIP service that supports calling landlines** - **Google Hangouts/Voice: **This is your best choice because it’s actually free and it works from your browser or mobile app. Downside: if your Google account is compromised, you won’t be able to access it. So, make sure you secure your Google accounts or Google Voice is set up on multiple accounts. Hangouts on your computer, Android, iOS, or Voice on your computer, Android, or iOS. - **FreedomPop:** An app that gives you a free 200 minutes/month once you set it up. Make sure you test it first. We didn't particularly like the permissions it requested on Android, but it did work on our test device. iOS and Android only. - **Line: **The newest rage in Asia and supposedly allows you to make free calls to landlines if you watch an ad first. You’ll have to confirm it works though as it rejected every number we tried calling. Available for literally every device. - **Skype:** Available for every device but costs a bit of money to call a landline (as you will need to do in this case). Loading it up with $10 of credit should be sufficient for your needs and is a good choice if you already use Skype. - **Viber**: It costs money to call landlines via Viber Out, but if you already use Viber it would probably still be worth it to throw $10 worth of credit on it now just to have it available. iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, Linux.

What to do after you’ve been SIM jacked

Step 1: Fully audit and secure all of your accounts
Go through each and every possible account you can think of: lower-priority accounts you may not have thought of during the “tourniquet phase,” such as old emails, old social media, etc. Any new forensics points you discover (these accounts were accessed) should be annotated. Additionally, you may want to re-secure and ensure you have secure, offline backups of all of your accounts, passwords, recovery codes, 2FA backups, etc. now that you have more time.
Step 2: Do not engage with the attacker
Do not under any circumstances engage in conversation with the SIM swapper(s) or those claiming to be them, have information on them, etc. Document but ignore these messages. This cannot be emphasized enough. You may experience extortion attempts from the SIM swapper(s), but do not give in to these. If you do, the SIM swapper(s) will simply return to you for more money at a later point, possibly on other accounts.Giving in to extortion not only provides financial support and incentive for continuity of this crime, but encourages the SIM swapper(s) to engage your network and extort them.
Step 3: Decide What Information to Share with People
Do not provide any information about the specifics of your case or raw data dumps to anybody that is not law enforcement, your attorney, or an investigator. Any details you provide to anyone besides your attorney / law enforcement has a tendency to spread rapidly. It is extremely common for internet fraudsters to social engineer both victims and the networks of victims to further extort money and / or determine what tracks they may need to cover.
Step 4: Decide What Information to Share with the Service Providers of Breached Accounts
It doesn’t hurt to notify exchanges, email providers, or other providers when an account of yours was breached and especially when your assets were stolen. Inform them that your account was breached, you’ve regained access, and you’ve submitted a law enforcement report. If you can, include specific dates, times, transactions, or IP addresses that were not made by you. Include only the information regarding the service you are contacting—don’t give them all your data dumps. It is highly unlikely these providers will supply you with information you cannot access via your account dashboard, and they especially will not disclose details about another person or account. For example, if you noticed stolen assets ended up transferred to a particular cryptocurrency exchange, that exchange will not provide you with account information due to data privacy laws. However, giving that exchange a “heads up” that law enforcement may be contacting them soon is still considered to be a good practice.
Step 5: Protect Your KYC & Identity Documents
If you had identity documents (such as scans of driver’s licenses, passports, etc.) that weren’t watermarked, then you’re going to want to notify authorities immediately and obtain new identity documents. Failing to complete this step may result in your identity being used to open new exchange accounts, new credit cards, new loans, or sold on the dark web and further used for nefarious purposes. It is your responsibility to notify your professional / personal network of this incident, particularly when it comes to identity documents or other personal details being accessed, because SIM swappers will utilize these documents, conversations, and data to pose as you and conduct impersonation scams — most likely on your contacts.
Step 6: Accept Some Harsh Realities & Work to Move Forward
While it is tragic you are the victim of a crime, accepting how it happened, what it currently means, what you must do now, and what to expect is critical in order for you to reach a point of acceptance and move forward. If at any time during this process things get especially tough and you are feeling hopeless, depressed, or suicidal, we strongly encourage you to talk to someone about it. There are so many amazing resources out there, especially if you aren’t getting the support you need from your own personal network. - Suicide Hotlines (Worldwide) - More resources - Even more resources - And, if you hate phone calls, you can shoot an email to the Samaritans.
Step 7: You must involve law enforcement
This is non-negotiable. Nobody else is going to legally resolve this matter. No investigator will tell you that your case is legally resolvable without law enforcement and the legal system, and anyone that disputes this is lying to you. Now is a good time to put aside any personal beliefs, fear, or avoidance of law enforcement. The law enforcement officials you will be in contact with don’t care about your drug preferences or shoddy tax work. “Hacker for hire” services are almost always scams that capitalize on your desperation and gullibility. At best, you’ll lose (more) money. At worst, you've just implicated yourself in a crime.
Step 8: Own your own shortcomings, use the opportunity to educate others
Accept: - There is no single party who is responsible for your loss except, arguably, the attacker. - Your phone carrier’s service employees failed to do thorough due diligence on the SIM port request and may have ignored your security settings. (Note that this does not mean the phone carrier is liable for consequences of the SIM swapping, such as loss of assets, when those consequences could have been prevented by proper security settings in other places.) - The system is partially responsible for even deciding that relying on phone numbers was a good idea. - You are partially responsible due to a lack of your own due diligence surrounding your personal security. - You will probably not get your money back. - You cannot go back in time. You can only change yourself and your own personal security moving forward. While it's incredibly frustrating to rely on third parties without being able to change or control their behavior, that's the way the world works. Exclusively blaming your phone provider, your exchange, your email provider, or the blockchain itself will result in a longer recovery process for yourself and a lot of angry, sleepless nights. The goal here is to move past this. Please, don’t be this guy. Additionally, you will experience immense disappointment if you are expecting your email provider, your exchange, or the general public to investigate, change their behavior, or take any specific actions for you, or because of you. It's unlikely they will do much and if they do, they won't share with you. On a brighter note, some folks find that sharing their experience and educating those around about how to be more secure can be cathartic and rewarding. Be careful not to reveal exact specifics of your case and focus on helping others rather than playing the blame game. Helping others can help yourself.
Step 9: Adjust your expectations of law enforcement
While this is, in fact, law enforcement’s responsibility to investigate and resolve, you’ll need to accept the fact that it may be quite some time before any progress is made on your case. Presuming (and this is a big presumption, since the majority of law enforcement reports don’t contain enough actionable information) your law enforcement report contained adequate data to progress your case, in the US, it may be 2-3 months on average before an FBI Special Agent even contacts you regarding the matter. In 2018, we saw a large number of arrests of SIM-swappers in the US occur in less than a year from time-of-incident to time-of-arrest. We consider this to be lightning speed. Crypto investigations don’t move at crypto speed. 1. Telling yourself that the assets are lost actually helps your mental health. Constantly thinking about these assets may tempt you to do things fueled by emotion that will push your case backward, such as engaging with the SIM swapper(s), leaking data, or otherwise making needless noise for investigators. 2. Hounding investigators or law enforcement for updates won’t help your cause. To an investigator, “when update?” is equally obnoxious as “when moon?” Investigators and law enforcement may or may not provide you infrequent, pertinent updates. You will not get a play-by-play nor will you get sensitive data. Investigators and law enforcement are extremely busy people with limited amounts of time. Making needless noise for them is pushing rewind, not fast forward. 3. There is no guarantee that your SIM swapper will be caught. While there has been a lot of news lately about SIM swappers being arrested, they were located in the US and had impressively bad operations security (opsec), which made the job of investigators far easier. The investigation of your SIM swapper(s) will likely take longer. 4. You’re probably not getting 100% of your money back, even if your SIM swapper is caught. Sim swappers tend to live lavish lifestyles with their ill-gotten gains and even after the arrest, the process of asset recovery still hasn’t begun and may take a year or more to complete. This means you’ll get a pro-rata asset recovery, presuming there is enough data to identify you as a victim.
Step 10: Consider Hiring Professional Help
This could be to assist you with your own mental health and well-being, the investigation, or mitigating damage potentially done to your business due to data loss or ongoing extortion. As we noted before, be extremely skeptical of people who reach out to you to “help” as these are likely scams. Fully review and collect references before hiring anyone. Additionally, if you are a high net-worth individual or operate a business, now may be a good time to invest more in your security, your business’s security, and / or your employees’ security. There are a number of reputable firms that can provide security audits, awareness training, and identify single points of failure. This isn’t something you can take shortcuts on. Reputable firms will cost money and will take time. In our opinion, it’s money well spent. Regardless, you are the best person to determine what help you may need. We encourage you to check in with yourself throughout this process, stay mindful, reflect on your situation, and take measures to improve yourself and your life.

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