uploads///T Mobile net customer additions

T-Mobile Customer Data: Is It Safe amid Cybersecurity Flaws?


Aug. 28 2018, Published 8:41 a.m. ET

T-Mobile in the eyes of hackers

T-Mobile (TMUS) has been in the limelight for cybersecurity flaws in the past. In May, a researcher discovered a bug on the company’s website that allowed anyone to access customers’ personal information. In 2017, the company was attacked by a similar bug that affected a subdomain.

The company has again fallen prey to hackers, which tried to misuse customer records. However, T-Mobile resolved the issue immediately before any customer records were exploited.

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Customer records were stolen

Reportedly, some hackers intruded T-Mobile’s cell network and got unauthorized access to customer records, including billing zip codes, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and account numbers. T-Mobile stated that the cyberattack might have affected accounts of ~3% of T-Mobile’s 77 million customers, or about 2.5 million people. Since the incident was quickly discovered, the company stated that the issue did not hurt any financial data, Social Security numbers, or passwords.

SIM hijacking

Another flaw emerged through T-Mobile’s link to Apple’s online store that inadvertently exposed T-Mobile’s 77 million customers’ account PINs[1. Personal Identification Numbers]. It was found that a page in the middle of the iPhone purchasing flow allowed hackers to access an account PIN, which is the last four digits of the account holder’s Social Security number. The hackers could then easily use any service that relies on text messages to send two factor authentication codes as a primary method or back-up. Apple fixed the flaw after BuzzFeed News shared the security researchers’ findings.

T-Mobile to strengthen its customer base

T-Mobile needs to carefully address any data breach complaints and safeguard user data. The security flaw issue emerged as the company was making efforts to strengthen its customer base. It has added more than 5 million customers each year for the last four years. It has also added more than a million customers every quarter for the last 21 quarters. In Q2 2018, its net customer base increased by 1.6 million, ending the quarter with a subscriber base of ~75.6 million.

T-Mobile’s potential merger with Sprint (S) is expected to result in a customer base of ~127 million and compete with the top two US wireless carriers, Verizon (VZ) and AT&T (T), which have ~150 million and ~141 million subscribers, respectively.


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