Boris Johnson's mobile: What hackers can do with your number

Boris Johnson’s personal phone number has been publicly available on the Internet for 15 was revealed. The number, listed at the end of a 2006 press release, was reportedly available online from the time the Prime Minister was shadow minister of higher education until he rose to number 10.

That such a high quality cell phone number has been publicly available for so long has raised cybersecurity concerns. If hostile states had access to this number, they could possibly have used it to spy on the prime minister. That would be a serious security risk to Great Britain.

Hackers and cyber criminals attach great importance to our cell phone numbers – with which they can do a lot of damage with very little effort. While there is currently no evidence that Boris Johnson’s data and communications have been compromised, if your cell phone number is freely available, your number will increase significantly Vulnerability to Cyber ​​Attack.


Such a cyber attack is the ” SIM exchange ”- a very common technique that is difficult to stop. It is usually used by hackers to take advantage of a high quality person’s exposed phone number.

With SIM swaps, hackers call the victim’s cell phone provider, pretend to be such and demand ” Port-out ”The phone number of another operator or a new SIM card. You can use other publicly available information, such as the victim’s date of birth and address, to make the case more convincingly.

Once the port-out is complete, the phone number on the attacker’s SIM card is activated and the hacker can send and receive messages and make calls as if they were the victim.

Phone companies have been aware of this problem for years, but the only routine solution they can find is to offer PIN codes that a phone owner must provide in order to switch devices. This measure has also proven to be ineffective. Hackers can obtain the codes by bribing telephone company employees, for example.


Once hackers gain control of a phone number, they can access their online profiles – on Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, and WhatsApp – which are usually all linked to the phone number. All you have to do is ask the social media companies to text a temporary login code to the victim’s phone.

This is supposed to be the case Twitter CEO Jack Dorseywhose cell phone SIM swap resulted in hackers sending offensive messages to millions of his followers. Other high-quality people, including the actress, have also been victims of such attacks Jessica Albaand online personalities like Shane Dawson and Amanda Cerny.

Aside from posting obnoxious messages, it has been reported that hackers are using the accounts to send spam, steal identities, access private communications, steal cryptocurrency, and maliciously delete cellphone data.


Hackers can also use another, even simpler, method to attack a phone – though some advanced spyware is needed to keep the attack off. Hackers armed with a person’s phone number can send them a text message with a hyperlink in it. If you click this link, spyware can invade your phone and compromise much of its data.

It appears that this method was used to infiltrate and spy on Jeff Bezos’ phone in 2020 after reports determined that it was “very likely” that a Text sent by Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, delivered the spyware to Bezos’ phone. Similar spyware was used to monitor the phones from Journalists and human rights activists.

It is possible that Boris Johnson’s cell phone was never hacked despite the 15 years that his number was freely available online. However, since the exposed telephone numbers of high-quality individuals can be exploited by criminals or hackers from hostile states, strict new security measures should be put in place to prevent such an oversight from occurring again.

Edward Apeh, Principal Academic in Computing, Bournemouth University

This article is republished by The conversation under a Creative Commons license. read this original article.


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