Approximately 750 million mobile phones in the world use something called a SIM card to store information. Unfortunately, this now means that close to 750 million mobile phones, all around the world, are at risk of being hacked.
Until recently, nobody had ever been able to hack a cell phone SIM card. A German security researcher, however, now claims that he’s been able to do so. This could mean that cell phones using SIM cards are now extra vulnerable to hacking and identity theft.
Let’s talk about what this means for you and for the future of mobile phone security as we know it.
Hacked SIM Cards Pose Big Security Problem
While someone successfully hacked a mobile phone might not seem very newsworthy, it is. According to the experts, nobody has ever hacked a cell phone SIM card before. SIM cards have previously been considered a very safe and secure way of saving private personal data.
After all, most cell phone users have a lot of personal information stored on their phones. With the advent of the smartphone, our mobile devices have moved away from being a simple communications device. More and more consumers use their smartphones like a pocket-sized personal computer.
Sensitive information, including the addresses of our friends and family and even our bank account logins, are often stored on our phones’ SIM cards. It’s fairly alarming that someone has figured out how to hack a mobile phone’s SIM card and potentially access this private data.
Anatomy of a SIM Card Hack
Luckily, the SIM card hacking technique was discovered by actual cryptologist, not some evil hacker, and this cyber security expert is sharing his findings to help companies boost SIM card technology.
Karsten Nohl is the founder of a place called Security Research Labs located in Berlin. Security Research Labs is dedicated to finding security weaknesses like this one for the purpose of plugging the holes, as opposed to exploiting them.
Nevertheless, the implications are pretty upsetting. Says Gizmodo:
“The vulnerability he discovered could impact as many as 750 million phones and would open them to call surveillance, fraudulent purchases and even a type of identity theft.”
The GSM Association Is on It
It’s good that this information didn’t land in the wrong hands, but it’s still pretty upsetting to think that someone might be able to access your cell phone — and access it easily.
As Nohl discovered, all it takes is a special SMS text message filled with binary code to hack a cell phone’s SIM card. From there, the sensitive data that’s stored on the card can be accessed and copied. That SIM card can also be controlled remotely.
While there isn’t a lot of information in terms of how to prevent this possible security breach, the Global System for Mobile Communication(or GSM) Association has said that they’re on the case and will be working to find a solution ASAP.
Meanwhile, there is also no evidence that scammers have actually begun employing this technique to hack your cell phone. However, we recommend erasing any sensitive personal information on your phone — such as emails containing financial information — just to be safe.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments!