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SIM Card Security Flaw Exposing 750 Million Cell Phones

Posted by J Powers at 8:54 AM on July 22, 2013
SIM Card

SIM Card

Outdated encryption is to blame for a new risk on your cellular device. According to a report by SRLabs and research which will be presented at BlackHat on July 31st, the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card can be hacked in a few ways, including through SMS messages.

According to SRLabs, SIM cards use 56-bit DES encryption – a technology created in the 70s. Using what is called FPGA clusters, a SIM can be crackable. SRLabs is looking to make aware these issues, then recommend a better SIM card technology, SMS firewall and SMS filtering so simple hacking techniques cannot access SIM card data.

It is reported that over 750 million SIM cards are vulnerable to this hack. That is 1 in 8 SIM cards, according to Karsten Nohl of SRLabs. An improperly encrypted SMS message – along with use of a custom Java program – can open the SIM to the malware. A hacker can do anything from change your voicemail to access your personal information on the SIM card.

In some phones, most information is stored on the phone and not the SIM. In some phones, SIM data can also include bank information, passwords to websites and programs and more. However, as we move to mobile and wearable devices, more SIM cards will be used to connect people to cellular networks.