WHAT IS CELL PHONE CLONING?
Cell phone cloning is copying the identity of one mobile telephone to another mobile telephone. Usually this is done for the purpose of making fraudulent telephone calls. The bills for the calls go to the legitimate subscriber. The cloner is also able to make effectively anonymous calls, which attracts another group of interested users.
Cloning is the process of taking the programmed information that is stored in a legitimate mobile phone and illegally programming the identical information into another mobile phone. The result is that the "cloned" phone can make and receive calls and the charges for those calls are billed to the legitimate subscriber. The service provider network does not have a way to differentiate between the legitimate phone and the "cloned" phone.
WHEN DID CELL CLONING START?
The early 1990s were boom times for eavesdroppers. Any curious teenager with a £100 Tandy Scanner could listen in to nearly any analogue mobile phone call. As a result, Cabinet Ministers, company chiefs and celebrities routinely found their most intimate conversations published in the next day's tabloids Cell phone cloning started with Motorola "bag" phones and reached its peak in the mid 90's with a commonly available modification for the Motorola "brick" phones, such as the Classic, the Ultra Classic, and the Model 8000.
HOW IS CELL CLONING DONE?
Cloning involved modifying or replacing the EPROM in the phone with a new chip which would allow you to configure an ESN (Electronic serial number) via software. You would also have to change the MIN (Mobile Identification Number). When you had successfully changed the ESN/MIN pair, your phone was an effective clone of the other phone. Cloning required access to ESN and MIN pairs. ESN/MIN pairs were discovered in several ways:
• Sniffing the cellular
• Trashing cellular companies or cellular resellers
• Hacking cellular companies or cellular resellers
Cloning still works under the AMPS/NAMPS system, but has fallen in popularity as older clone able phones are more difficult to find and newer phones have not been successfully reverse-engineered. Cloning has been successfully demonstrated under GSM, but the process is not easy and it currently remains in the realm of serious hobbyists and researchers.
ARE OUR CELL PHONES SECURED?
Too many users treat their mobile phones as gadgets rather than as business assets covered by corporate security policy. Did you realize there's a lucrative black market in stolen and "cloned" Sim cards? This is possible because Sims are not network specific and, though tamper-proof, their security is flawed. In fact, a Sim can be cloned many times and the resulting cards used in numerous phones, each feeding illegally off the same bill.
But there are locking mechanisms on the cellular phones that require a PIN to access the phone. This would dissuade some attackers, foil others, but might not work against a well financed and equipped attacker. An 8-digit PIN requires approximately 50,000,000 guesses, but there may be ways for sophisticated attackers to bypass it.