Spy Agencies Hack Mass SIM Cards to Monitor Mobile Communication

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Spy Agencies Hack Mass SIM Cards to Monitor Mobile Communication

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As per a recent revelation, American and British spy agencies have hacked the internal computer system of the world’s largest SIM manufacturer, causing a threat to the privacy of global communications. The spies have nabbed the encryption keys that protect the privacy of mobile communications.

Intercept, the source, has gained information from whistleblower Edward Snowden who was a former system administrator at the National Security Agency (NSA) of USA. He confirmed that the American Agency and British Government’s Communications Headquarter (GCHQ) have jointly managed to breach the privacy. They now have the ability to access and monitor both voice calls and data usage.

sim hack

The report says that Gemalto, a multinational firm in the Netherlands, is the target of the intelligence agencies. Gemalto is the largest producer of chips embedded on smartphones and next-gen credit cards. The company provides services to 85 countries and has more 40 manufacturing facilities. Gemalto’s services are spread all over the world, and its clients are Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and some 450 wireless network providers.

Executive Vice President at Gemalto Paul Beverly expressed concern over the mishap –

I’m disturbed, quite concerned that this has happened. The most important thing for me is to understand exactly how this was done, so we can take every measure to ensure that it doesn’t happen again, and also to make sure that there’s no impact on the telecom operators that we have served in a very trusted manner for many years. What I want to understand is what sort of ramifications it has, or could have, on any of our customers.

SIM card is a component that is prone to such attacks. It is not designed to protect the conversations. Any SIM card works with an encryption key called “Ki.” A Ki is burned on the SIM once it’s made, and a copy of the key is sent to the network provider. The spies just have to steal the Ki, and they can monitor all the activities.

The infringement will have an adverse effect on global communications and security firms that claim to be protecting the rights of the citizen. Gemalto produces around 2 billion SIMs every year and with this report, there’s a big question mark on the solitude of the conversations. This also turns out that other nations too are vulnerable to this encroachment.

The only way to keep you protected is to use secure communications softwares. These software guard mails and many other apps that hold your personal conversions.

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Meenakshi Rawat
iGyaan's newbie Meenakshi handles content at iGyaan. She is an ultimate foodie, loves travelling and likes to read.