Security Flaw Revealed in Old SIM Cards

09 Aug 2013
HomeNews StoriesSecuritySecurity Flaw Revealed in Old SIM Cards

The BBC recently reported on a warning from a security firm that millions of SIM cards used in mobile phones across the world could be vulnerable to hacking.

We all have SIM cards in our phones, but according to security specialist Karsten Nohl, who runsSecurity Research Labs in Berlin, as many as one in eight SIM cards could be at risk.

This could put the users at risk of being spied on or even becoming victims of theft.

He claimed that by sending a simple text message, pretending to be from the mobile operator, he could find digital keys of some SIM cards. He said that it only affected a minority of SIM cards, those that used older standards, but it is still worrying news and the GSMA, an industry organisation, is looking into the claims.

Hackers could use the flaw to download malware onto SIM cards, and could then send texts to their own premium-rate numbers. They could also potentially listen into voicemails and find out the user’s location. 

The flaw could affect up to 750 million devices around the world. In Africa, where many of the affected SIMs are thought to be in use, many people use their phones for mobile banking, presenting even more risks. 

Thieves are constantly finding new ways to steal data and commit fraud. Unfortunately for the user, flaws such as this one are almost impossible to do anything about until it is too late. It is hoped that service providers will be made aware of any such risks and take measures to counteract them before people become victims to criminals utilising this potential flaw.


Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono /