Line users alerted to hacking risk
Expert calls for extra log-in protection
A cybersecurity expert has warned users of messaging app Line about the risk of having their accounts hacked.
Line is the most popular messaging app in Thailand, with 46 million Thais using the service.
"I estimate hundreds of fraud cases happen from the hacking of Line users' accounts per year," said Prinya Hom-anek, a cybersecurity expert and chairman of ACIS Professional Center, an IT security training and consulting firm.
Mr Prinya cited information analysed over the past two years. In most cases, hackers pretend to be busy at meetings and ask a contact from a hacked Line account to help transfer money to a third party for debt repayment because they have no time to do so.
"They pressure the victims to act fast, and the victims appear to trust the messages sent to them via Line," Mr Prinya said.
For those who registered a Line account with an email address, hackers may infiltrate their email and re-register the same Line account with this email at a different mobile phone.
To obtain email passwords, hackers sometimes guess them from a user's date of birth, phone number or ID number.
Mr Prinya said users should have a dedicated email address for registration with Line, one for social media accounts and another for internet banking.
The use of the same email could make users vulnerable to attack.
He said hackers can also seize Line accounts through a hacked Facebook account tied to the Line account during registration.
To ward off risk, users should enable two-factor authentication (2FA), or two-step verification, on email and Facebook accounts.
2FA is an extra layer of protection used to ensure security of online accounts beyond a username and password.
"Using only usernames and passwords to log in is not enough," Mr Prinya said.
He called on the public to refrain from using phone numbers and birth dates as passwords, as these could be vulnerable to hacking.
The Line app in Thailand has no 2FA system for protection.
Line Thailand said discussions have begun with its global team about possibly introducing the system here.