Data theft: T-Mobile US confirms IT attack

The attackers are also said to have obtained sensitive data such as US social security numbers. (Source: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire)

The attackers were able to access data of the wireless provider T-Mobile US. This was confirmed by the American subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom on Monday. According to a media report, the attackers are offering personal data of 100 million people for sale.

T-Mobile has not yet officially confirmed these figures. If they are correct, the attackers would have had access to the data of all or almost all T-Mobile customers: about 103 million consumers use the wireless provider in the USA.

According to the online magazine Motherboard, the attackers obtained names, addresses, telephone numbers and the unique International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) of mobile phones. Driving licence data and social security numbers were also affected. The magazine reported that it had been able to view samples of the data and verify them as authentic.

Sensitive data

The data is particularly sensitive as criminals can exploit it for identity theft. In particular, driving licence data and social security numbers are also used as proof of identification in the USA. The social security number is used by various authorities and also companies – it has the function of a general personal identifier.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) also warns that millions of Americans fall victim to identity theft every year. It is therefore important to protect your social security number from theft. Criminals can also use the number to find out other information about victims, such as their bank details. In addition, a social security number can be used to open new bank and credit card accounts under someone else’s name.

According to Motherboard, the attackers are offering a dataset with 30 million social security numbers and driving licence data for sale in an online forum. They are asking for the equivalent of almost 239,000 euros in the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. The rest of the data is currently being sold separately.

T-Mobile investigates incident

T-Mobile said the incident is currently being investigated with security experts to find out what data the attackers were able to access. The company said that the investigation would take some time. It is also coordinating with law enforcement authorities.

T-Mobile US is convinced that the gateway for the attackers has been closed in the meantime. As soon as it is known which data is affected, the company will inform its customers. So far, it has not been possible to determine that personal customer information was also affected.

Previous data leaks

This is not the first data leak at the US Telekom subsidiary: In August 2018, attackers stole personal data from around 2 million customers. At the time, names, telephone numbers, email addresses and postcodes were among the data compromised. Financial data such as social security numbers and credit card information were not affected at the time.

In November 2019, a “small number” of prepaid customer data was stolen: Among other things, names, addresses and telephone numbers were also stolen in this case. (js)