Pwn2Own 2020
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What happens when an 18-year old guy with a passion for hacking takes his passion too far? He earns $50 million worth cryptocurrency by organizing a SIM Swapping scam. Samy Bensaci, a Montreal based 18-year old was charged with the theft of cryptocurrency worth $50 million in a well-organized SIM swapping scam.

In a SIM Swapping scam, a hacker takes over your phone number by convincing customer support staff that he’s the real owner of it or by finding and exploiting vulnerabilities in the customer management system of your cellular network. Once he takes over the control, he swaps it with the SIM card in his possession. Then, the fraudster can hijack your email account, bank account and other accounts linked to your mobile number.

Robert Ross, a victim of SIM swapping attack conducted by Bensaci says:

“Because of AT&T, the hacker was then able to take control of my Gmail by clicking “forgot password”, which sent a text to the hacker’s phone instead of mine to reset my email password.”

Ross claims that he lost $1 million after the hacker bought Bitcoin worth $1 mn after gaining the access to his Gmail account.

Amongst the victims of the SIM swapping attack, one of the notable names is Dan Tapscott, the head of the Blockchain Research Institute and his son.

Feds found that a majority of the victims attended an annual cryptocurrency and blockchain conference in New York dubbed Consensus. It is possible that the 18-year old hacker got hold of the data of the attendees and targeted them.

According to a local media report, Toronto Police cybercrime seized several telephones, SIM cards, computers and other equipment from Bensaci’s home.

Bensaci was released in December 2019 after complying with strict conditions and paying a hefty CA $200,000 bail. He is forbidden from accessing any device with internet connectivity including mobile phone, computer, PS3, PS4, Xbox, Nintendo Switch. He has also been banned from conducting any cryptocurrency exchange and has been ordered to live with his parents.

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Anmol is a tech journalist who handles reportage of cybersecurity and Apple and OnePlus devices at Fossbytes. He's an ambivert who is striving hard to appease existential crisis by eating, writing, and scrolling through memes.