The Dark Side of Number Recycling: A Playground for Cyber Attacks

Published Categorized as Guide
Number Recycling

In a world where we’re constantly changing, upgrading, and moving forward, our old phone numbers often get left behind. Little do we know, these discarded digits become the unsuspecting victims of a digital underworld. Today, we unravel the sinister truth behind recycled numbers and how they pave the way for cyber threats.

Number Recycling

The Recycling Roulette: A Privacy Gamble

If you’ve ever bid farewell to an old phone number, you might assume it’s left in the past. However, the reality is far more ominous. A recent study has exposed the vulnerabilities of recycled phone numbers, revealing a playground for hackers to exploit unsuspecting victims.

The Reverse Lookup Attack: A Cheap Thrill for Cybercriminals

Among the myriad of attacks outlined in the study, the reverse lookup attack stands out as the simplest and cheapest. Cybercriminals exploit the carrier’s online interface to identify, purchase, and wield a recycled number to access a victim’s accounts. The most alarming revelation? A whopping 66% of these numbers were a gateway to account hijackings on major platforms like Amazon, Facebook, and Google.

Unveiling the Number Recycling Exploits

Beyond the reverse lookup, the study illuminates five additional number-recycling exploits. These tactics allow attackers to impersonate previous owners, hijack online accounts, and execute denial-of-service attacks. The digital realm becomes a battleground where old numbers become weapons for identity theft.

Millions of Numbers, Easy to Exploit

The Federal Communications Commission reports that 35 million phone numbers get disconnected annually in the U.S. These numbers, displayed on carrier websites, create an open season for attackers. With a treasure trove of vulnerable digits, cybercriminals can exploit personal information and disrupt the lives of both past and future number owners.

Safeguarding Your Digital Fortress

As the saying goes, knowledge is power. In the face of this digital threat, here’s how you can shield yourself:

1. Break Up with SMS 2FA

The study underscores the risks of relying on SMS-based authentication. The solution? Break up with it. If changing your number is on the horizon, follow these steps:

2. Unlink and Secure

Before parting ways with your old number, unlink it from online services. Opt for secure alternatives like authenticator apps or even hardware keys. For added protection, consider using a low-cost number “parking” service to retain your old number.

3. Stay Informed

In a world where data leaks are on the rise, staying informed is your best defense. Embrace two-factor authentication (2FA) apps, minimize your online presence, and reassess the services you use regularly.


Q1: Can I trust SMS-based authentication?

A1: The study highlights the risks of SMS-based authentication. Consider alternatives like ForestVPN for enhanced security.

Q2: How can I protect my personal information online?

A2: Embrace 2FA apps, minimize online presence, and choose services wisely. ForestVPN offers additional layers of security.

Q3: What makes ForestVPN the best choice for online security?

A3: ForestVPN prioritizes privacy with encrypted connections and anonymous browsing, providing a robust shield against cyber threats.