T-Mobile has suffered two breaches in the past year. One took place in August 2021, and the other occurred in December 2021. The first attack was brought to light on August 16. The hacker was a 21-year-old US citizen named John Binns.
In the August attack, the personal information that included social security numbers, names, dates of birth, driver’s licenses, phone numbers, along with IMEI and IMSI information of around 7.8 million customers, was put at risk.
Besides these 7.8 million, 40 million past customers also had their sensitive information leaked. Around 5 million “current postpaid customer accounts” data was also breached.
According to T-Mobile, the pins and phone numbers of another 850,000 prepaid customers were also accessed.
The breach in December wasn’t that considerable, affecting only a small group of people. The customers experienced SIM swaps, and it was also reported that there was illegal viewing of CPNI.
An Inside Look at the T-Mobile Breaches
The August attack was carried out by Binns from the comfort of his house. According to Binns, ‘the company’s security practices were awful’. He found an unprotected router in July after a little bit of searching of the gaps within T-Mobiles defenses.
He only needed some digging before he had access to more than 100 of the company’s servers. By August 4, the boy had access to millions of files. According to Binns, he had stolen 106 GB of data.
Some of the data that included 30 million social security numbers and driver licenses for 6 Bitcoin were sold on underground forums by Binns and some other people.
When asked why he did it, Binns responded that he was “abducted by US agencies and was tortured continuously. He even filed a lawsuit against the FBI, CIA, and Justice Department, but it all was in vain”.
He further added in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, ” Why would I make up a fake abducting story? I hope that someone within the FBI leaks the information”.
The December 2021 attack was carried out over three stages. In the first stage, the hackers breached information that included billing account details.
The second time, the hackers gained access to SIM cards and IMEI numbers using them to hack into the customer’s online account.
In the third wave, the hackers viewed customers’ private CPNI and swapped their SIM Cards.
Is There Anything for Customers to be Worried About?
Having your data and financial information sold and accessed on underground forums illegally isn’t a walk in the park. The customers affected by these breaches were asked to change their PINS immediately, both times.
How Did T-Mobile Respond?
The CEO of T-Mobile apologized for the hacks. However, the forum evaded the blame for any financial information of customers being hacked at the time of the August attack.
Furthermore, the CEO, Mike Sievert, stated, “These breaches have been a humbling experience for us. Illegally accessing accounts is a common crime now, with cyber-attacks rising in quantity. Bad actors are working every day to find new avenues to attack our systems and exploit them”.
He concluded his statement by saying, “We spend lots and lots of time trying to stay ahead of them and protect our customers.
However, this time we failed to reach their expectations, and it has been one of the most challenging times for the company. On behalf of everyone on our team, I am truly sorry”.
To strengthen their cyber security, T-Mobile partnered with Mandiant and KPMG LLG. According to the CEO, this long-term union would make the security more resilient towards cyber threats.
However, the December attack made sure all the company’s efforts were useless.
The December 2021 attack, which wasn’t as widespread, was acknowledged by the company on Twitter, replying to a customer’s worry, stating that immediate action is being taken, and prompting the affected customer to contact the company via a text.
This isn’t the first time T-Mobile has experienced breaches and had their customers’ accounts illegally accessed. The company has gone through 4 security breaches in the past 3 years besides the two mentioned above.
Therefore, we can agree that the company needs to enhance its cybersecurity as its reputation continues to deteriorate with every breach.