How Your SIM Card can be hacked and how to protect it

Your SIM card poses a security threat! Find out how SIM cards can easily be hacked and what you can do about it. You need to be aware of new security loopholes as new online threats constantly emerge. You probably know that your smartphone's operating systems must be updated regularly to keep you safe from cyber threats. Surprisingly, a SIM can also pose security risks. We'll show you how hackers can access SIM cards to gain entry to devices and advise how to protect your SIM card.

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1. Simjacker

In September 2019, security researchers from AdaptiveMobile Security revealed that they had discovered a new security flaw they called Simjacker. This sophisticated attack involves SIM card hacking using an SMS message to send a piece of spyware-like code directly to the target device.

Hackers can spy on calls and messages by opening the message. They can even track where they are located.

This vulnerability is caused by a piece of software called S@T Browser. It is part of the SIM Application Toolkit (STK) that many phone operators use to access their SIM cards. The SIMalliance Toolbox Browser is a way of accessing the internet--essentially, it's a primary web browser that lets service providers interact with web applications like email.

Simjacker Attack, Source: Youtube, fml lol

The S@T browser is now rarely used, as most people use Firefox or Chrome on their devices. However, the software is still available on many devices, making them vulnerable to Simjacker attacks.

Researchers believe that this attack was used in multiple countries. They specify that the S@T protocol has been "used by mobile operators from at least 30 countries whose combined population amounts to more than a billion people", mainly in the Middle East, Asia, and North Africa.

They believed that the exploit was also developed by a private company and was being used by various governments to monitor specific demographics, such as journalists and activists.

All types of phones, including Android and iPhones, are vulnerable. Smacker can even be used to hack embedded SIM cards (eSIMs).

2. SIM Card Swapping

Another security concern you might have heard about is SIM-card swapping. Hackers used a variant of this technique in August 2019 to overthrow Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO. This incident raised awareness about how destructive these attacks can be. This technique is more about social engineering and trickery than technical vulnerabilities.

A hacker will call your phone provider to perform a SIM-card hacking via a SIM swap. They will pretend to be you and request a replacement SIM card. They will claim they are upgrading to a new phone and require a new SIM card. If they succeed, the provider will send the SIM.

SIM Card Swapping Scams | NBC, Source: Youtube, NBC 6 South Florida

They can then steal your phone number and link it with their device. All this without taking your SIM card.

There are two consequences. Your actual SIM card will be deactivated, and it will stop working. The hacker also has access to phone calls, messages, and two-factor authentication requests sent from your phone number. They could also have access to your accounts and lock you out.

Sim card swapping involves social engineering, making it difficult to protect against. Hackers need to convince customer service agents that they are you. Once they have access to your SIM, they can control your phone number. You may not be aware that you are a target until too late.

3. SIM Cloning

People often try to combine SIM swapping with SIM cloning. SIM cloning, however, is more accessible than the other.

A SIM clone attack involves hacking first to gain physical access to your SIM card and then creating a copy. The hacker will need first to remove your SIM card from your smartphone to copy it.

This is done with the help of an intelligent card scanning software that copies the unique identifier numbers from your SIM card to their SIM card.

Sim Reader And Writer | Sim Cloner | Unboxing And How To Use | Tutorial, Source: Youtube, CRAW SECURITY - FULL CYBER SECURITY COURSE VIDEOS

The hacker will then insert their newly copied SIM card into the smartphone. After this is completed, your unique SIM card identification will be lost.

The hacker can now see all communications sent to your phone, just like with SIM swapping. They also have access to your two-factor authentication codes, which allows them to hack into your bank, card, and social media accounts.

Hackers could also steal your SIM card identity and use it to commit scams that require a unique number.

How to keep your SIM card safe

You can take several precautions to ensure your SIM card is safe from attacks like this.

1. Protect yourself against socially engineered attacks

Make it difficult for hackers to locate information about you to protect yourself from SIM card swaps. Hackers can use the information they find online about you, including your name and address. This will help you convince customer service agents that you are real.

This information can be secured by restricting your information with others and setting your Facebook profile to only friends. To prevent hacking, delete any accounts that you don't use anymore.

Protect Yourself From Social Engineering Attacks, Source: Youtube, First Citizens Bank

You can also protect yourself against SIM card swaps by being alert for phishing. Hackers might try to phish your information to copy your SIM later. Be alert for suspicious emails or login pages. It would be best if you were also cautious about where you enter your login information for any account you use.

Consider what two-factor authentication methods you use. Two-factor authentication services may send you an SMS message with an authentication code. Hackers can access your accounts even though you have two-factor authentication enabled.

Use a different authentication method, such as the Google Authentication app. This will make it more secure against SIM swaps by linking the authentication to your device, not your phone number.

2. Install a SIM Card Lock

It would be best if you also protect your SIM card to protect yourself from SIM attacks. A PIN code is the most critical security measure that you can put in place. If anyone wishes to change their SIM card, they will need the PIN code.

You must know your PIN before you can set up a SIM lock. Open Settings > Lockscreen and security > Other security options > Set up SIM lock on an Android device. You can then enable the slider to Lock SIM Card.

Go to Settings > Mobile > SIM PIN on an iPhone. Go to Settings > Cellular > SIM PIN. To activate the SIM lock, enter your current PIN and confirm.


Mobile device attacks are getting more sophisticated. You can protect yourself from these attacks by setting up a SIM lock and keeping your data secure.

However, smartphones are now more secure than ever. You can check your phone to see if it has been hacked. To protect yourself against malicious activity, make sure you use the security features available to you.

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Hope this article is helpful to you, thanks for reading.