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Things you didn't know about your SIM Card

augur

simcard.jpgA subscriber identity module, or as its most commonly named; a SIMcard is a small circuit board which is installed in mobile phones and tablets, in order to identify and authenticate users on a mobile network. It is a portable electronic circuit, which can be easily removed and placed from one device into another.

 

Forensic Detectives and hackers are able to use special Software to access information stored on a Sim card remotely just as your network carrier can record your information and SIM-related activities. Since they are your network provider, you expect them to store this information but one thing to note is that the data is stored in either internal or off-site servers and it’s possible that these can be hacked into. Another thing to remember is that Sim card readers can be purchased from anyone online, allowing your information to be obtained if your Sim card has been stolen. Nevertheless, this isn’t the main purpose of purchasing a reader. It can be used to access your contacts so you can back up your address book as well as access your text messages but please ensure you have gained permission before using it against another person’s Sim to avoid any legal penalties.

 

So what information is stored exactly? This is probably something most people don’t really think about. After all, we just want to slot it in our phones and ensure we’re able to send / receive text messages and phone calls right? But it’s worth thinking about the security.

 

So what information is stored exactly?

This is probably something most people don’t really think about. After all, we just want to slot it in our phones and ensure we’re able to send / receive text messages and phone calls right? But it’s worth thinking about as sim cards can store up to 64K worth of data. I know that seems like absolutely nothing but this is what that holds:

 

  • Your mobile number
  • Your tariff
  • LAI (Location Area Identity)
  • Services and your preferences
  • Your text messages
  • Address book
  • Pin lock

 

Would you really want anyone to be able to read through text messages or even gain access to your family and friends’ numbers?

 

sim card reader.jpg

 

SIM Locking

The good thing about Sim cards is that they’re portable. So you don’t need to buy a new one every time you buy a new smartphone or tablet, unless of course you need to go from a standard SIM to a micro or nano SIM. But still, the actual data on the sim will be the same as it’ll just get transferred over.

 

The real problem is whether your new device accepts the network you’re on. Some devices, unfortunately, come SIM-locked restricting it to be used on a certain carrier. If this is the case, you can use giffgaff's Unlockapedia where you can find out the best methods to unlock your phone. Fortunately though, there are still some places like Apple who offers their devices factory-unlocked so out comes your old SIM and in it goes. For devices that are SIM-locked, you usually need to contact the network carrier and pay around £20 to get it unlocked, in order to allow your Sim card to be used. If you’re happy to switch network providers then don’t just throw your old SIM away; protect your data.

 

SIM Pin Lock

You can protect the data on your phone by adding a Pin Lock to your SIM. The benefit of this is that if anyone was to get hold off your SIM card, it would be deemed inoperable . Every time it is inserted into a device and the device turned on, the user is prompted for the sim pin lock. If this is entered incorrectly then any data stored will not be accessible. This is extremely useful if you save your contacts to your Sim card (to save having to add them all again if you stay with the same carrier. If you do switch, that is where the Sim card reader comes in handy). It is an added layer of protection for the unfortunate case where your phone or tablet may be stolen and I would also advise having a pin lock on the device too!

 

Oh and if you forget your SIM pin / enter it incorrectly three times then you can get it unlocked by obtaining the PUK code from your carrier. Although they only provide it once they’ve verified you are the account holder, so no thief would be granted access Smiley Happy

 

imei.pngChanging your pin

If you’re hot on security like me then you’d want to change your passwords every so often. Don’t forget about your Sim pin though. You can change it by following the below format:

 

**04*old PIN*new PIN* new PIN #

 

So if my old PIN was 1234 and I wanted to change it to 4321, I would enter:

**04*1234*4321*4321#

 

Simples Smiley Wink

 

Taking note of your IMEI

As well as a pin lock on your SIM card, another precaution to take is taking note of your IMEI number. This is a 15-digit international mobile equipment identity number, which is unique to your phone. It is important to keep a record of it as if your phone is lost or stolen, you can pass the IMEI number to your network provider who will then block the phone from using the network. It is also useful to find out details of your phone or the phone you’re going to be buying; especially if it’s second-hand. You can get the IMEI number by keying in the follow: *#06#

You can also find it on the box or behind the battery area of the phone. If you’re an Android user you can check online by logging in to the Google Settings page. Hit the small triangle on the left, which will expand and display your number.

 

CONCLUSION

 

SIM Cards do hold information you wouldn’t want others to gain access to so taking simple precautions like setting a pin lock should be taken. Thankfully, they do not hold any sensitive or personal information about you such as your address or bank details etc unless of course you’ve mentioned these in a text message or saved any details like this to a contacts’ record. I’m sure you know not to though. If you need a SIM card for yourself or someone you know, you can order a free SIM card from giffgaff Smiley Happy Oh and if you really need to throw a SIM card away, make sure you cut it up first Smiley Tongue

 

Thanks for reading guys Smiley Happy

- Sadia

 

77 Comments
soothsayer
Hmm well I for one don't store any information on my Sim, contacts and texts are stored on the phone. (And the sim can't hold many anyway) so all they know is I'm on giffgaff and buy a £12 goodybag. And have 32p credit. Oh and my phone number is *phone number removed* which anyone can find anyway. And anything else they need to hack giffgaff.
beginner

thanksSmiley Happy

enigma
Thanks for the very useful and informative blog. ☺📱😊
coach

Does your SIM card really hold your text messages ?

 

I'm sure that they can be (a bit like contacts can be held on the SIM) but I'm fairly surprised that on modern phones with loads of memory they are.

 

I lock my device but the interaction of device lock and SIM PIN makes the SIM pin a real pain to use.

 

With PAYG the financial exposure of a lost SIM (or phone) is limited anyway.

 

Apple introduced the world to a 'virtual SIM' in their last presentation, whereby Apple iPad users could use this 'virtual SIM' to decide between a number of mobile networks to run on the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. Right now, this is just an iPad technology but how long is it before they make the great leap forward and put this technology on your next iPhone?

 

This technology could help Apple become a MVNO in the future....and it would make changing mobile networks a lot easier. But the mobile networks may not be as keen on this idea right now...

newcomer
cool. someone buy a sim of me pls im new to selling sims
top cat

shadylady wrote:

So what information is stored exactly? This is probably something most people don’t really think about. After all, we just want to slot it in our phones and ensure we’re able to send / receive text messages and phone calls right?

 

So what information is stored exactly?

This is probably something most people don’t really think about. After all, we just want to slot it in our phones and ensure we’re able to send / receive text messages and phone calls right?


Is there an echo in the room? Smiley Very Happy

 

As others have mentioned, I'm pretty sure very few of my text messages are stored on my SIM card. Most phones these days store text messages in their internal storage or as data within their messaging app.

 

Same goes for my contacts actually, as SIM cards can't hold very many contact details.

 

Much of this advice is a bit "last-decade" really, from the pre-smartphone era, when we were more reliant on our SIM cards to store data.

 

Fair point on the IMEI number, but I've no idea where you were looking on Google to find it. Smiley Frustrated

 

Not one of your better blogs, sadly. Smiley Sad

augur
@gordie10 - Oops, my bad. I shall fix that when I'm on my laptop Smiley Wink And fair enough but don't forget not everyone has given in to the smartphone craze Smiley Wink So I'm sure this would be useful for them (I have a friend who is 25 who uses a pretty old phone - not a smartphone). Also this blog idea was suggested to me Smiley Happy @jeff_elephant - Gotta love Apple Smiley Very Happy
augur
@gordie10 - Also, if you're referring to checking your IMEI via Google Settings for Android users then check this link for exact steps on the Google dashboard: http://www.techisher.com/find-imei-number-lost-stolen-android-phone-phone-google-dashboard/ Refer to the section titled "how to retrieve IMEI from a lost Android mobile"
top cat

Hey, Sadia - thanks for taking my post well. Appreciate that; impressed too. Smiley Happy

 

 


shadylady wrote:

don't forget not everyone has given in to the smartphone craze Smiley Wink So I'm sure this would be useful for them (I have a friend who is 25 who uses a pretty old phone - not a smartphone).


Fair point, well made - I wasn't even among the smartphone crowd myself 2 years ago. Smiley Happy And Mum still isn't (and never will be).

 

 


shadylady wrote:

if you're referring to checking your IMEI via Google Settings for Android users then check this link for exact steps on the Google dashboard: http://www.techisher.com/find-imei-number-lost-stolen-android-phone-phone-google-dashboard/ Refer to the section titled "how to retrieve IMEI from a lost Android mobile"


Ah - Google Dashboard … thanks for that. Smiley Happy I was looking under "Devices" on that page, as I thought that would be a logical place for it to be. Smiley LOL