Researcher Finds Way To Steal Cash From Google, Instagram, and Microsoft Through The Phone

Trailrunner7 quotes a report from On the Wire: A security researcher has discovered a method that would have enabled fraudsters to steal thousands of dollars from Facebook, Microsoft, and Google by linking premium-rate numbers to various accounts as part of the two-step verification process. Arne Swinnen discovered the issue several months ago after looking at the way that several of these companies’s services set up their two-step verification procedures. Facebook uses two-step verification for some of its services, including Instagram, and Google and Microsoft also employ it for some of their user accounts. Swinnen realized that the companies made a mistake in not checking to see whether the numbers that users supply as contact points are legitimate. “They all offer services to supply users with a token via a computer-voiced phone call, but neglected to properly verify whether supplied phone numbers were legitimate, non-premium numbers. This allowed a dedicated attacker to steal thousands of EUR/USD/GBP,” Swinnen said in a post explaining the bug. “For services such as Instagram and Gmail, users can associate a phone number with their accounts,” reports On the Wire. “In the case of Instagram, users can find other people by their phone number, and when a user adds a number, Instagram will send a text to verify the number. If the user never enters the code included in the text, Instagram will eventually call the number. Swinnen noticed that Instagramâ(TM)s robocallers would call any number supplied, including premium-rate numbers. ‘One attacker could thus steal 1 GBP per 30 minutes, or 48 GBP/day, 1.440 GBP/month or 17.280/year with one pair. However, a dedicated attacker could easily setup and manage 100 of these pairs, increasing these numbers by a factor 100: 4.800 GBP/day, 144.000 GBP/month or 1.728.000 GBP/year.'”


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