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Major data leaks in 2024: how to protect yourself from spam

The problem of cybercrime in the world is disappointing: over the past two years such companies as Twitter, Facebook, Apple, Nvidia, Reddit, Uber (not for the first time) had data leaks. In addition, hackers have successfully attacked a number of other companies and government agencies up to the Pentagon. This shows that no matter what level of security the service guarantees, fraudsters are still one step ahead.


At first, databases with users are sold, and after they lose their relevance, they are leaked to the open access. At the same time, almost every app, marketplace, delivery or taxi service asks for a mobile number and a code for confirmation when registering. For an ordinary user, this can be converted into endless calls, messages and fraudulent schemes to steal money or personal data. In this article, we will tell you about a really reliable and perhaps the only way to register through confirmation of a phone number and maintain privacy.


You've been sold: how small services make money on databases


It is not always scammers who are responsible for the transfer of your data to third parties. Sometimes business owners themselves don't mind making money on selling databases. It could be a beauty shop, fast food restaurant, coffee shop, car sharing service, or other small business that offers you to enter your phone number to get promotions or discounts.


To sell the database, it is not even necessary to open the darknet. When there are almost no penalties, users’ databases for "cold calls" as a marketing tool are sold, as it were, in a grocery store. The average cost is 500 rubles (about 5$) per 1000 numbers. It is relatively safe for a criminal: when services like Yandex.Food and Delivery Club are leaked, no one will remember the exact order at some Sushi bar on, let’s say, West Avenue.


How to protect yourself from data leaks


What doesn't work:


When registering with a phone number, it is often recommended not to provide your real name for safety reasons, but this does not guarantee protection. Having only a mobile phone number, fraudsters can gather information about a person. Here is one of the schemes: a scammer searches for a user by their number in messengers, saves a photo from the account, uploads it to a search engine and goes to your social networks. After that the city of residence, place of study or work, and family members’ contact info can be determined. This data allows attackers to realize different criminal scenarios up to threatening calls. By the way, this is a working scheme for all sorts of fortune-tellers and psychics.


What does work:


Sign up using virtual numbers: SMS-Activate one-time virtual sim card service is right for such cases. The process is as follows:

  1. You register on the SMS-Activate website or app and top up your balance;

  2. Find the service you need to sign up for in the left menu. If it is some local or small service, enter "Any other" in the search and buy a number of this category. 

  3. The purchased number will appear in the "Activations" tab. Enter (or dictate) it in the app. The code will appear right on the site next to the number when it is received. 


If you need to communicate in a messenger or install a bot, create an additional account in Telegram or WhatsApp using a virtual number. This will help avoid mailings and invitations to spam groups.

 

As for online services, it will be exactly the same registration as with a real number. That is, you will get discounts and services, but do it completely anonymously. Most apps have a chat function. It will help you contact a delivery person or driver without a phone call. With our app buying a number will be easier. Even if you are right at the cash register in a new cafe. This useful habit will help not only to secure your data, but also to receive bonuses and discounts as a new customer with every purchase on a marketplace or a delivery. It's simple: your number won't be leaked or sold if it's not in a database.

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