According to a recent report in the New York Times, some SIM cards have some vulnerability issues that could allow hackers to infect it with malware and yes, even surveillance. As a results, hackers could not only listen in on phone calls, but in the end, steal your identity.
“We can remotely install software on a handset that operates completely independently from your phone,” Karsten Nohl, founder of Security Resarch Labs in Berlin, told the Times. “We can spy on you. We know your encryption keys for calls. We can read your S.M.S.’s. More than just spying, we can steal data from the SIM card, your mobile identity, and charge to your account.”
SIM cards are those tiny little plastic cards that plug into the side of an iPhone — or other kinds of smartphones — that essentially activate the phone. They hold basic information about you, including your phone number. It’s unclear, from reports, which brands of SIM cards have been the ones targeted to having the security flaw.
While the problem is a serious issue, there’s no need to start freaking out quite yet. Apparently tests have shown, according to CNET, that only about 1000 cards in Europe and North America showed signs of exhibiting the security flaw.
Americans are already on edge about the NSA’s snooping around their phone records and emails, even if it is an effort to protect against terrorism. A security flaw like this could be another tipping point in the privacy debate.
As one commenter put it: “Don’t give the NSA any ideas.”
Nohl told the Times he advised chip makers to use better filtering technology to block attempted hacks. He also suggests operators to phase out old models of SIM cards as a safety precaution.