Worldwide phone SIM card hack

Encryption keys, allowing access to millions of phones worldwide, have been stolen.

Online publication The Intercept has revealed that US and British spy agencies hacked the systems of Dutch SIM card company Gemalto in 2010/11 and stole encryption keys, gaining access to the personal information contained on any phone connected via a Gemalto-made SIM card. Gemalto manufactures SIM cards for 450 telecommunication companies worldwide including Telstra, Optus and Vodafone.

A stolen encryption key can be used to gain access to information, such as the text message and phone call history, on any phone associated with a specific SIM card. Most importantly for the spy agencies, it allows them to listen into any phone calls being made from the hacked phone.

Yesterday, Mike Thompson from Linus Information Security Solutions told Fairfax that the alleged hacking of the Gemalto SIM card encryption keys would allow the security agencies to bypass wiretapping restrictions. Mr Thompson also suggested that the alleged actions were likely to be targeted towards specific individuals, rather than a wide-spread data breach.

Mr Thompson said that the replacement of every compromised SIM card would place a massive financial burden on telecommunication companies and that they would be “extremely reluctant” to do so.

SIM card company Gemalto yesterday said that initial investigation indicate that its SIM cards and other products are ‘secure’.

Read more from www.theage.com.au
Read more from www.firstlook.org
Read more from www.theverge.com
Read more from www.cnet.com

Opinion: Are your phone habits secure?

While I and many other Australians might have assumed that our smartphones are built with the latest security protocols in place, the reality of the matter is that they are still using obsolete security technology.

The security built into the basic layer of each smartphone comes from the encryption code used in each SIM card. As reported above, if someone gains access to the encryption key, sensitive information can be unlocked and accessed without the knowledge of the phone owner. Future smartphones are expected to be fitted with better security,  such as that used by modern web browsers, which use Perfect Forward Security (PFS), a security software that generates unique encryption keys for each individual message, with those encryption keys then discarded soon after.

The only way to effectively secure your phone is to use secure communications software, rather than relying on your SIM card security to protect you. The email clients included in both Android and iPhone smartphones have an added layer of security called Transport Layer Security (TLS), which protects your emails from anyone who has access to your phone via SIM card hacking. Apps such as Silent Text or TextSecure allow you to send SMS messages securely from your phone while RedPhone, Silent Phone and Signal allow encrypted voice calls to be made.

What do you think? Should Australian telecommunication companies replace every SIM card manufactured by Gemalto? Are you worried about the potential breach of security on your phone? Or is it simply the people with something to hide who should be worried? 





    COMMENTS

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    Wstaton
    24th Feb 2015
    10:15am
    How do they get away with it. If I as an individual had hacked into a site and stole encryption keys or any anything come to that, would be up with a criminal offense and jailed.

    I think a bill should be sent to these people for them to replace everyone's sim card who has been affected.

    We are entering more and more into a surveillance society where our individual freedoms are being attacked. This is even shown in the laws that our government is trying to bring in to affect more surveillance on us in Australia. Do not spout that hackneyed phrase "If you have nothing to hide etc"
    Patriot
    24th Feb 2015
    12:28pm
    Does the State attacking one's individual freedom foreshadow the forerunner of ta Totalitarian police State or has this already arrived?
    Wstaton
    24th Feb 2015
    12:43pm
    Could be getting close as our individual freedoms and privacy are slowly being attacked by stealth.
    MICK
    24th Feb 2015
    12:52pm
    Without trying to sound like a political statement I have to state that I have held serious concerns about this government more than any other in recent times. The meta data retention laws may be the tip of a growing iceberg.
    As I have said before I think that this government is totally capable of taking control and doing away with the right to say no. It worries me.
    Patriot
    24th Feb 2015
    1:08pm
    Mick,
    I agree wth you and suggest that "This Current Government" is attempting to "flick the last domino in the row" and start the "Chain Reaction" of Little but Significant changes "set in Place" by previous governments in the past 30 years.

    DICTATORSHIP - HERE WE COME !!!!
    Where is Edward Snowdon when you need him - or somebody si,ilar!
    Patriot
    24th Feb 2015
    1:14pm
    No wonder this - as previous governments - have let Assange "Rot in Hell" or as close as they can get to that state.
    If they were to treat him like ANY NOT PROVEN GUILTY Australian citizen should be treated by HIS govenmnent, he might just expose the EVIL deedS OUR GOVERNMENT is implementing !?!?!?!?
    MICK
    24th Feb 2015
    2:02pm
    The really important distinction is that neither of the two people you mention Patriot would get a fair trial in a civil court. Their fate would be decided by a 'casino' court presided over by judiciary hand selected in a military regime with their fate sealed before the trial (or whatever you want to call it) even started.
    Welcome to western democracy.
    Sceptic
    24th Feb 2015
    3:06pm
    More of your usual garbage Mick and Mick devotees Let us praise people at are so keen to release secrets of state and individuals but as long as it is not theirs. Where do they run to for sanctuary - to two of the most repressive regimes in the world both jail and execute journalists for far less than the crime of these two. Wonderful freedom of the press in these two countries isn't there?.
    Patriot
    24th Feb 2015
    3:31pm
    Sceptic,
    The aggressian associated with Russia (since perestroica) is clearly evident viewing the military bases associated with this country in the attached link!
    https://socioecohistory.wordpress.com/2014/04/05/pentagon-russia-wants-war-look-how-near-they-put-their-country-to-our-military-bases/
    I can still remember - as a child - sitting around the radio as a family in 1956.
    If I let my mind "Go Back" I can stil sense the "Shear Terror" when reporters "on the ground in Budapest" viewed and reported the Russian tank rolling throught their streets.
    As the picture associated with the link confirmes (to me) the "Boot of Terror" is now on the other foot as we, the Western so-called democracy, is causing agression that is uncalled for.
    We are approaching a period of Total Dictatorship as is evidenced with the surveillance by our government.
    Surveillance if THE TOOL for controlling the population.
    Do you want to be controlled by those you pay?
    If so, remain "on the couch and just suck another stubbie". Just do nothing!
    Wstaton
    24th Feb 2015
    10:35am
    Something to hide? That isn't the point. Would you like the police to just wander into your living room and say "If you have nothing to hide you shouldn't worry about us just wandering in"

    1984 here we come. (sorry we are past that 2084 then)
    MICK
    24th Feb 2015
    12:53pm
    Good analogy Wstanton.
    Colours
    24th Feb 2015
    12:18pm
    I'm grateful that somebody reads my messages, particularly my kids.
    Manzac
    24th Feb 2015
    12:19pm
    Listening to speech would be an onerous and hugely expensive task on the spy-watchers. However they may be able to target specific numbers of "suspects" exhibiting activities of concern to national security. The ability to track messages is an entirely different matter e.g. sending "secure information" from your phone to another, could easily be identified by meta-tags or key words that are able to be isolated and drawn to the attention of the watchers for action.
    With a scenario of that in mind, then yes, it is a worry. Is it possible that any of us innocent suburb dwelling, train and bus catching workers likely to be hacked..Yes but probable..No.
    MICK
    24th Feb 2015
    12:55pm
    Where does it all end? Will citizens be arrested and charged because they do not support the government of the day? And will the same happen if and when people want to organise protests against a government?
    We all need to guard our freedoms lest they be stolen and never given back.
    Patriot
    24th Feb 2015
    1:10pm
    Seems to happen in the Good Old USofA.
    So why not here.
    The current crowd in office is not les MEGLOMANICC-ISTIC - Ithe never was such a word, there is now.
    Most of them are PSYCHPATHIC & "GRANDUER DELUSIONED"
    KSS
    24th Feb 2015
    12:44pm
    Its all very well dragging out the 'fautrage' about what the Government or spy agencies may or may not be doing and who they may or may not be 'listening to' but where is the outcry over the criminal element who can hack into your smartphone as you walk down the street?

    People store so much personal information on their smartphones these days yet generally care little about security. Smartphones are computers, as are ipads and other mobile devices. Whilst people may have security on their desktop or laptop computers few seem to do the same with their phones. Yes they use them to conduct financial transactions as well as send innocuous e-mails.

    As has been shown recently with the celebrity nudie pictures 'stolen' from cloud storage, nothing is truly safe and 100% secure. Use of social media is also unsafe. You may have privacy settings enabled on your page but what about all your 'friends'? Unless they have similar privacy settings then anything on your page, public or private, is fair game for the world to see, take, re-publish or for criminal use and you wouldn't even know.

    So quite frankly the issue is far worse than spy agencies hacking SIM card codes. If they can do it, others with more nefarious motives can too.
    MICK
    24th Feb 2015
    12:56pm
    The difference is that hackers frequently do not have a political motive. The state has.
    Patriot
    24th Feb 2015
    1:11pm
    Mick,
    Did you mean a "Dictotorial Motive?".
    MICK
    24th Feb 2015
    12:49pm
    And that was in 2011. So what has happened since?
    KSS
    24th Feb 2015
    1:25pm
    Exactly!
    Patriot
    24th Feb 2015
    1:22pm
    Do/did we "pay for the tools" which are allowing the Government to ENSLAVE us???
    My Mobile bill is $10,00 per year. Only that high because the "Credit Runs Out" eventually.
    Use your mobile for EMERGENCIES only and You're a lot less the "subject of Surveillance".
    KSS
    24th Feb 2015
    1:28pm
    And turn it off between uses!
    MICK
    24th Feb 2015
    1:43pm
    The sad reality of life Patriot is that your "mobile" is in fact your computer these days. Nothing is 'safe' for anyone any more.
    Whilst I have nothing to hide I live a life where I put my views forward and stand up (publicly) and say what many others are too politically correct to say lest somebody think badly of them. With that in mend I have nothing much to fear by being spied on.....but I do not like the thought that citizens can have this done to them for no good reason.
    Wstaton
    24th Feb 2015
    5:00pm
    And make sure after your switch it off either take the battery out or put it in a metal box.

    Even if you think it is not active it is. So beware.
    particolor
    24th Feb 2015
    5:38pm
    STREWTH !! I'll put it in a Lead Box and bury it !! :-(
    Nan Norma
    24th Feb 2015
    5:55pm
    particolor. good one. You made me laugh out loud. thanks.
    Reeper
    24th Feb 2015
    2:13pm
    This is 2015 and there is little in our lives that someone doesn't know about or could know about if they wanted. I would suspect that private enterprise does more snooping into our lives than government
    Polly Esther
    24th Feb 2015
    2:22pm
    Oh if only I was important or paranoid enough to need worry if somebody - anybody please - was spying on me. LOL
    Is it something else Tony is getting up to, to destroy us all ?
    Naughty Tony.
    particolor
    24th Feb 2015
    4:08pm
    How would You like a thousand Troops on Your Doorstep You Cheeky Basket ?? :-(
    particolor
    24th Feb 2015
    4:03pm
    Hullo Spy Barsterds in My phone !! :-)
    Hows Ya Mothers Ducks ??
    niemakawa
    24th Feb 2015
    9:10pm
    I don't know, but I used to hear her.
    Abby
    24th Feb 2015
    4:15pm
    Like Patriot I too use my mobile only for EMERGENCIES if for no other reason that I have not yet worked out how to use it for anything else :)
    particolor
    24th Feb 2015
    4:24pm
    I whisle at Redheads !
    I Stop for Brunettes !
    But I back Up 25 Yards for Blondes !! :-)
    niemakawa
    24th Feb 2015
    9:14pm
    I am sure you can plant it somewhere to get a buzz.
    pate
    24th Feb 2015
    4:35pm
    Anybody who bothered to listen in on my mobile converstions would be bored witless so if anybody wants to try it they are more than welcome as we do not have mobile coverage here. The only reason I have one is in the case of a breakdown while travelling far from home.
    Wstaton
    24th Feb 2015
    5:03pm
    maybe, but it's all the other things that are going on that is worrying. Thius is only the tip of the iceberg,
    particolor
    24th Feb 2015
    5:34pm
    That sound like our 98% coverage here Less 90% ? Were in the same Boat !! :-)
    niemakawa
    24th Feb 2015
    8:18pm
    "they" have other tracking devices, you can never hide, wherever you are. Our freedom, if there was any such thing, is now lost forever. Before you know it you will be offered a "chip" to be inserted into you body for your "security" and low and behold before you know it all you "movements" will be recorded.
    Wstaton
    25th Feb 2015
    5:42am
    With the encroachment of cameras everywhere we will have one in every street so that we can watch what you are doing you naughty things.
    niemakawa
    24th Feb 2015
    7:22pm
    Well what about YLC to register we have to give personal information why? What is YLC doing with it? Maybe YLC would like to make a truthful comment.
    Drew
    25th Feb 2015
    10:48am
    Hi Niemakawa,

    I'm not sure what kind of truthful comment you are after. Our Disclaimer and Privacy Policy in the footer of our website says exactly what we do.

    Since the internet was created the sign-up sheets for websites have included all the basic information we request. All information collected is not shared externally with any other party. You will also note that anyone is able to signup to our website without giving us their age, gender, state or even their name. They are not mandatory fields.

    Kind Regards,
    Drew
    Paulodapotter
    24th Feb 2015
    8:12pm
    The emphasis on national security is a device weak and vulnerable governments use to gather the faithful and timid around a pooh like flies. Howard did it when he was going to lose government by vilifying refugees. He did it again by backing the idiot, Bush, on invading Iraq on a lie. The Abbott government is desperate to find something to bolter up its diminishing stocks. The myth of rampant terrorism in Australia is simply a device to gather the yobbos around the smelly pooh of homeland security. We will all fall for it hook, line and sinker, because it has a history of success over many generations. Already Abbott has mooted the idea of sending ground troops to Iraq and suggested troops in the Ukraine to protect the M17 site. Fortunately, he has no intellectual capacity to formulate a credible argument so we have been spared that stupidity. However, his intent was clear. He desperately wants something to boost his credibility as a Prime Minister. He's not as cunning as the War Criminal, John Howard, but I'm sure he'll play on people's fear and ignorance to try to stay in power.
    Patriot
    24th Feb 2015
    8:29pm
    Tony does not have to be intelligent to do the job he is expected to do.
    Such is not why he is not taking action.
    He's simply awaiting instructions from his masters!
    Patriot
    24th Feb 2015
    8:36pm
    In fact, intellect is against what is required for the position Tony (& Joe for that matter) holds.
    Just look at Bush & Obongo !!!!
    Paulodapotter
    24th Feb 2015
    11:20pm
    Mr Rabbit has always approached his job as though he has end stage rabies. He has an uncanny ability to tap into people's negativity and has managed to destroy any initiative of the previous government whether good or bad. He destroyed the Carbon Levy on serious polluters. He destroyed any hope of multinational mining corporations paying their fair share of tax. He tore down the Gonsky Report on education. He destroyed the insulation of homes which would have saved the lives of many more ageing pensioners who are vulnerable in extreme weather conditions such as extreme heat and cold. He has driven the renewable energy target and industry down. He has destroyed the last vestiges of our car manufacturing and related industries. He is in the process of destroying Medicare. This man and his government are not builders. They are demolition experts. He is looking for a target that he can demolish, something or someone who he can vilify to regain his popularity with the negative yobbo set. Tall poppies are not the only target. The most vulnerable and the most dysfunctional are equally potential targets. The one possible building project, ie., paid leave for the birthing mothers, was predictably abandoned because he had no means of ensuring it would have support. It was as empty a promise as it was to leave the ABC and SBS alone. He now wants to make child care affordable to all. This is a very popular undertaking, so he will pursue this with the same abandon. However, his chance of success is small because he lacks the ability to construct a way forward. It is probably the last chance he has of restoring some credibility, but I am equally sure he will continue to look for a target/issue to draw the flies and it will take the form of a prize fight, his only past success while he performed barely adequately while he was at Oxford. He was described then as a thrasher, not a boxer. He simply lacks the finesse to be a forward thinker.
    Paulodapotter
    24th Feb 2015
    11:32pm
    This whole issue on meta data and invading our privacy to save us from terrorist attack is just another of his feeble attempts to give his government credibility while the legislation will have no effect on improving our safety. Terrorists/criminals will simply find a way around it, while another regulation nail is hammered into the coffin where the remains of our democracy lies.
    Patriot
    25th Feb 2015
    8:14am
    The following article explains all I think.
    It explains how Joe Hokey is the most misunderstood Aust politician ???
    It also explains how Joe's father was a spy!!!

    So, I assume what they mean is that, whilst we thought the SPY IDEA's emanated from Tony, it was Really Joe who HATCHED all the ideas leading up to the spying.

    That MUST be why he is the most Misunderstood POLLIE in Australia !?!?!?

    http://www.afr.com/f/free/blogs/christopher_joye/is_joe_hockey_australia_most_misunderstood_KE3Jop9YGeK9xeyEPnR03M
    Paulodapotter
    25th Feb 2015
    2:35pm
    A very nice article that reflects the attitudes and vested interests of the writer. It beggars belief that the treasurer would develop a budget that does everything to destroy his own beliefs and integrity. Hokey must indeed be a soft touch to be so heavily influenced by the IPA that has compassion and integrity so low on the list that a worm would be regarded as lofty.
    wally
    25th Feb 2015
    1:40pm
    I just finished watching the HBO crime series "The Wire". It finished in 2009 and shows a police unit using electronic wire tap technology to catch crooks. I think that in the five years since this show was made, electronic eavesdropping technology has advanced by leaps and bounds and far outstrips our understanding of what it is capable of accomplishing, both in the collection and storage of data.

    So howl and whine all you want, people, I am afraid that the fact is, we are all faced with a "Done Deal". And there is bugger all we can do about it.
    Paulodapotter
    25th Feb 2015
    2:10pm
    You may well be right Wally. However, there's no need to legislate it to try and legitmize something that has questionable value and poor democratic principles.
    Patriot
    25th Feb 2015
    2:33pm
    Laid-back attitudes like this are ensuring that our kids will have to endure slavery.
    NO, spying on Australians should NEVER be condoned in ANY WAY !!!!
    Patriot
    25th Feb 2015
    6:21pm
    Wally,
    Whilst planting some new veggies, I've been "milling over" your remark.
    I'll share the results of that process with you:

    If ALL Australians are thinking like you I am very Sad & Insulted that I ever showed the Integrity, Loyalty & Dedication to this country to Naturalise & denounce my "Birth Nationality". It's really not a "Clan of people I want to associate with".

    If I could get it my "Birth Passport" back" I would return!!! Stuff the cold winters! I'd give up one of my favourite foods: "Onions" as you have to "Fill in a form in triplicate if you want to fart" over there (just about anyway).
    "Unfortunately, this attitude is just around the corner in Australia though".

    PRIDE & FREEDOM are VITAL to me!
    By God my "Birth Country's People" live in a Police State (and have for some time) but at least they "Have the Guts" to think outside the square, Confront the Enemy and "are Starting to Turn Things & Issues Around".
    I applaud them for their Patriotism & Loyalty to future generations.
    particolor
    25th Feb 2015
    8:35pm
    Yes Pat Riot I'm keeping an Eye on it Myself ! I think They have had enough ? :-(
    ( Finally) :-) To keep a Close Eye on things the best Site is "Jihad Watch " We hear Nothing of World Events Here in Au's! .... Mpfffff ! < Muffled ! :-(
    Patriot
    25th Feb 2015
    8:55pm
    Particolor,
    Thanks for the new name. :-)
    A spade is & always be "A Spade. I'll never even get near a shovel!!!

    With such remark I'm truely ASAHMED to be an AUSSIE
    She'll be right mate is just not good enough when our freedom is "At Stake".
    It (obviously) make my blood boil & Guts churn!

    If any of you guys who read this lives near Brisbane the link below might be of interest!

    http://us7.campaign-archive1.com/?u=d97aa103fa2855be2b9c4c826&id=5beb494a8a&e=f1743ed10b
    wally
    26th Feb 2015
    9:54am
    I wasn't suggesting that we should lie back, cop it and "think of England" while we are being done over by Big Brother. But the fact remains that we are kept in the dark about what is going on. In the name of "National Security" we will be kept in the dark . It is just while such surreptitious snooping is going on, most people will be unaware of it. What they say (as the cops might say) may be taken down and used against them.

    When I check my Facebook page, I am amazed by what my ex sister in law's daughter reveals about her self. Besides revealing herself to being a self absorbed dingbat, she reveals matters like health problems and romantic ups and downs that would be better kept in a diary, not broadcast all over the internet.

    I think that by being aware that eavesdropping is a real possibility, we should think before we speak and keep the likelihood of being spied on in mind. Sure, it sounds like we have a police state creeping up on us, No sane person would like that, but I think about all we can do is minimise the possible harm we might do to ourselves
    Paulodapotter
    26th Feb 2015
    10:57am
    I think we should read from the past what we are capable of doing in the future. Trusting in our leadership to make the right decisions is the first mistake democracy makes to undo itself. We messed up our youth in Vietnam based on the lie that Totalitarian Communism would engulf our nation. Successive right wing governments used that lie to hold themselves in power over successive generations. Now the lie is that Sharia Law will become our masters and successive right wing governments will tout that mantra to keep us gathered around the pooh of discredited Islam by dog whistling just as Howard did with refugees and perpetuating the lies of terrorism and WMD in Iraq. (They laid the groundwork for the situation we have today where terrorism has now the greatest recruitment source in the world) Right wing governments are experts in inventing enemies to bring the ignorant and yobbo element behind a common cause and extreme right wing governments become fascist and ultra secretive. The vilification of the Jew as a race was the most graphic example of that ability in Germany's past. We must guard against this trend at all costs and we must force our governments to reveal their behaviour and make sure they do not hide behind the veil of national security. Good on you Snowdon. Good on you Julian Assange. Good on you Andrew Wilkie. The latter two are the closest to Australian heroes we have outside the armed services. They have displayed incredible guts to open up the secrecy and hidden dubious machinations of our government.
    particolor
    26th Feb 2015
    7:20pm
    Bad Example in there ! :-( The Jews didn't go all over the World making people a Foot Shorter because they Didn't agree with an Ideology !! :-(
    tim
    1st Mar 2015
    5:54am
    Indeed A great article http://www.techyexplore.com


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