Canvas Insider Tech Tip
Protect your personal phone number with an alias.
I believe our personal phone number is one of four items in our online life that should be actively protected and kept private, only to be shared with people we know and trust. If my personal mobile phone number is (248) 434-5508, and I have an account with Google, I can obtain a free phone number with Google Voice. Based on the popularity of Google Voice (GV moving forward), we may not find a phone number in the area code where you live. However, with this “alias” number” we can send/receive phone calls and text messages with the free GV app on our mobile phones. For those of us who only have a landline phone, we can use a web browser to visit voice.google.com to make phone calls and text messages.
The main benefit I’ve found with GV is its forwarding feature. Any phone call or text message gets redirected automatically from my GV number, e.g. (316) 555-1234 to my personal (248) 434-5508 number. I only use my GV number for cases where I may want to protect my personal number:
Online Accounts - All my online accounts have my alias number in the account settings.
My Workplace - The co-workers whom I trust have my personal number. The business has the alias number. They still can reach me. It’s just not my personal number.
A Course Syllabus - A number of my professor clients include their phone number in their Syllabus’ contact information. By using a GV number, students are still able to contact the professor. But in cases of…unexpected negative circumstances…students do not have access to the professor’s personal number.
Member Reward Accounts for national chain and local businesses - We may know and trust the folks working for a local business, but the phone number we use for member rewards is only used to identify us in their customer list, not a method of communication used to actually call us to thank us for supporting their business. Shed no tears in giving a GV number to a local business to receive customer rewards or discounts.
Signing a petition - I may support the initiative I am signing my name to, but I have no idea what the petition originators will do with my information. They get the GV number.
Someone hitting on me in a bar who wants my phone number - This example is for single folks. I’m happily married.
In my personal mobile phone I created a contact called GVoice with my GV (316) 555-1234 number. Whenever I get a forwarded text message, perhaps for multi-factor authentication, my phone reads “GVoice.”
I also use a GV number to decrease chances of a SIM Swapping attack. If an online website gets hacked, and my customer information falls into the hands of an adversary, they might impersonate me with my mobile carrier’s customer service saying my previous phone got stolen, they have a new phone with a new SIM card, and can my account be transferred over to this new phone. If they’re convicing enough, a mobile carrier customer service rep might actually switch my account service over to the adversary, which would immediately render my personal mobile phone unable to make calls or receive service. With a GV number, a SIM swapping attack isn’t possible. It’s not tied to a mobile carrier.
Stay safe out there,
First in a series on non-Canvas technology tips for your consideration. If you found value with this tip, shoot me an email to let me know. If you prefer I stick to talking Canvas, shoot me an email to let me know. Thank you for your time!