Porting your mobile number? ACMA introduces MFA for mobile transfers

If you switch mobile carriers, it’s traditionally been a fairly easy process. That’s about to change and that’s for a great reason.. security. A growing issue in the mobile...

If you switch mobile carriers, it’s traditionally been a fairly easy process. That’s about to change and that’s for a great reason.. security.

A growing issue in the mobile industry is Identity Theft, where an attacker will gain access to enough personally identifiable information to complete a number transfer without your knowledge.

With a new regulation from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), there’ll now be no way to transfer without notifying you.

A submission to port your number to a new carrier would now require a second factor, typically in the form of a code sent to your mobile. Without the code, the attempt to migrate your service would fail.

“Mobile number fraud can have devastating effects as scammers can gain access to bank accounts, email, social media and more.

Identity theft has long-term ramifications as victims struggle to regain control over personal and financial information often over years.”

ACMA Authority Member Fiona Cameron.

In March this year, the ACMA announced a Scam Technology Project to explore ways to disrupt scam activity on telco networks and commenced work with industry on preventing mobile number fraud.

The first outcome of this work is the establishment by Communications Alliance of new measures for use when telcos are transferring mobile phone numbers. These measures include the use of two-factor authentication, which involves an additional ID check such as use of a code sent to a consumer that they then use to verify their identity.

The largest telco providers and most major resellers have now voluntarily implemented the measures in a significant step for the security of telephone numbers.

“I congratulate Communications Alliance and its members for developing these stricter security measures, but more is required. We know that some telcos, mainly smaller resellers, are still not providing satisfactory protection to consumers.

We welcome the Minister’s direction to lift these obligations into an enforceable industry standard that will apply to all providers. This work will be a priority for the ACMA.

In the interim, consumers should ask their provider what measures they have in place to protect their phone number and personal identity,”

ACMA Authority Member Fiona Cameron.

The ACMA is working actively with the industry to help curtail scams and will shortly release an action plan to limit telephone scams. The Scam Technology Project is due to hand down its findings to the Minister in late November.

“We fall into the major resellers category – and we have implemented a system where customers bringing their number across to us (porting) get sent a 6 digit pin number via SMS during the activation process to their existing service. If they don’t enter this pin our system does not allow them to proceed.

Customers did see this as an inconvenience when we first brought it in – because they had to type in an extra pin. But eventually they realised it was a necessary measure to help prevent fraud.

Aussie Broadband’s, Leigh Markham, Service Delivery Manager
Categories
Security

Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis.
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