Cell phone cloning is the practice of illegally charging phone call rates to another person’s account by duplicating the identification and serial numbers of a mobile phone. Calls from another unit are through this mobile identity number. As a result, the amount of airtime illegally consumed will be billed to the owner of the ID number to whom it is registered. This is a form of identity theft.
Cloning is a breach to the subscriber’s privacy. The communication lines are unsecured since other people can eavesdrop on the conversations simply by using radio scanners.
Cell phone cloning is a serious threat to the telecommunications industry and to the consumers. It has cost the wireless industry in the recent years a hefty $600 million, according to estimates.
However, this violation can occur only to analog type of cell phones. Analog phones are most prone to cloning attacks due to their makeup and are largely misused.
Risk of Analog Phone Use
Analog phones carry this potential risk to real security. In fact, any person with a proper device, usually a radio receiver can listen to calls made to analog phones. In the analog system, the audio directly modulates to a carrier. The transmission flows through the same frequency wave that the FM radio uses, making it easily captured.
How Cloning Takes Place
Every cell phone has two unique characteristics used to distinguish itself within the cellular system. The MIN stands for Mobile Identification Number, which is quite similar to the landline system because it has three digits for area code and seven digits for the phone number. The service provider usually assigns this. It is changeable if the user wishes to transfer to another service provider.
On the other hand, the ESN or the Electronic Serial Number comes from the manufacturer of the unit and is permanent.
This is how cloning takes place: when making a call, the phone sends out the ESN and MIN to the subscriber network immediately. Through this pair of identification, the phone company will know where to bill the call. However, if there is right scanning equipment, it is easy to modulate another phone. It maneuvers to hold the MIN/ESN pair, allowing another person to make calls using someone else’s account.