SMS Security Codes Are Not As Secure As You Thought

January 4, 2021

Why Aren't SMS Security Codes Safe For Two-Factor Authentication?

If you use Amazon, Facebook, Paypal, Uber, etc., you have probably encountered 2-factor authentication (2FA) messages to your phone usually with a code.

While this intention for an added layer of security is a move in the right direction, SMS messages are not the secure route you'll want to receive security codes on.

SMS messages are NOT encrypted from sender to receiver and that makes it extremely easy for cybercriminals to access your messages.

If you somehow accessed a malicious website and they ask for your phone number to send a two-factor authentication code, this not only makes the user feel as though the site is legitimate to potentially share more private information, but it also allows the cybercriminal to verify your phone number. This could lead to further risks in the future as the cybercriminal now knows your active phone number and other sensitive data.

The Different Forms of Two-Factor Authentication: SMS, Autheticator Apps,  and More

What You Should Use Instead of SMS Codes

Sometimes it isn't an option to opt out of an SMS security code especially for larger websites such as Amazon, but if you are ever given the option, try to use an authenticator app to receive encrypted temporary codes. These codes expire after 30 seconds so cybercriminals don't have enough time to even attempt to access them. This method is much more secure and we highly recommend using an authenticator app for 2FA and MFA whenever you can.

If you are trying to send or receive security codes from other people through a message, try messaging apps that use end-to-end encryption like WhatsApp instead of less secure messaging methods like SMS text messaging.

And if you're looking for an added layer of security, our mobile security services would monitor for any suspicious or malicious activity on your mobile device. Cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated in their delivery of malicious content so it's a good idea to have Cyber Unit monitoring for this 24/7.

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