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Faulty SIM Card
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Faulty SIM Card

There is a SIM card flaw that can affect 750 million mobile cell phones, where attackers can eavesdrop on phone conversations, make fraudulent purchases, or impersonate the owner of the phone with the faulty SIM card.

The faulty SIM card could allow malware Infection and surveillance. An attacker can gain access to the SIMs digital key, which is a 56-digit code sequence that when breached, allows the card to be modified.

According to Karsten Nohl, founder of Security Research Labs in Berlin, he was able to infiltrate the phone in less than two minutes with a standard PC. First they install independent operating software on the phone, then they have the ability to basically spy on you, and it's all done remotely.

Your messages can be read, your data can be stolen from the SIM card, meaning your mobile identity can then be used to charge things to your account.

The Digital Encryption Standard was developed by IBM in the 1970's and is still being used in approximately three million cell phones daily. The fault was found in this older cryptographic method, which has been improved upon in the last ten years, but is still used in many handsets.

Nohl expose weaknesses in wireless smartphone chips back in 2008 and then a year after that he cracked the algorithm used on Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) cell phones. This technology is designed to prevent attackers from eavesdropping on calls.

In America and Europe tests have shown that 1000 cards show a sign of the flaw. Nohl has shared his two year study with the GSM and plans to share the details of the flaw with the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas next month.

A United Nations cyber security group plans to send out an alert about these vulnerabilities in cell phone technology, that could enable millions of phones to be hacked.The group will notify telecommunications regulators, hundreds of mobile phone companies and industry experts in over two hundred countries.

This attack method only grants access to data stored on the SIM card so payment apps which store the secret information outside the card are not vulnerable to this method. However, there are many other dangers out there for data not stored on SIM cards, and that is a reason the industry started using the SIM card in the first place.

Iphones, Androids, and Blackberries are all vulnerable, Nohl says. The U.S. mobile industry trade group, CTIA, says the research on faulty SIM card likely posed no immediate threat.


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