Telefónica taps Chainlink to combat SIM-swap attacks


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Telefónica, Spain’s largest telecom brand, has announced a collaboration with Web3 oracle provider Chainlink to enhance protections against SIM swaps — a popular attack vector that hackers use to gain access to their targets. 

On Feb. 15, Telefónica said the strategic alliance between the two parties will “enable the secure connection” of smart contracts with other GSMA Open Gateway APIs. The integration allows data verification from different sources using Chainlink along with a framework of common network APIs designed to provide access to operator networks.

A SIM swap attack is a type of identity theft where hackers take over their victim’s mobile phone number, gaining access to information like crypto accounts, credit cards or bank accounts. It is a prevalent and efficient hacking technique that even big organizations like the United States Securities and Exchange Commission have fallen victim to.

Telefónica wrote that the integration enhances transaction security and adds a layer of protection to blockchain transactions by enabling smart contracts to make information requests to the application programming interface (API). This ensures that a device’s SIM card “has not undergone any unauthorized changes.”

Yaiza Rubio Viñuela, chief metaverse officer of Telefónica, said this is the “first use case” of the GSMA Open Gateway SIM Swap API, which positions the company as a “Web3 enabler.” She also said this will enable them to be with developers as the industry goes into what she called the “web of the future.”

Related: FTX’s $400M hack linked to SIM-swap attack, feds charge 3

This isn’t Telefónica’s first dip into the Web3 space. In 2022, the Madrid-based company enabled payments with Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH) and other cryptocurrencies on its online marketplace. This allows users to pay with their crypto when shopping for tech products. Crypto exchange Bit2Me announced the integration during Telefónica Metaverse Day on Sept. 29, 2022.

More recently, Telefónica partnered with Nova Labs, the firm behind the Helium Network, to use blockchain tech to lower infrastructure costs and expand coverage in Mexico. On Jan. 24, Telefónica announced that it will leverage Helium’s mobile hotspots to expand its coverage in Mexico City and Oaxaca.

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