Do you have the knowledge of how to clone a cellphone? Or can you safeguard your phone from being cloned?
My answer was NO as well until the it happened to someone close to me. My very good buddy had his mobile phone cloned at the time and it was not a tidy experience, i had to write this so the same fate will not befall you.
After cloning, things going back to normal is not very straightforward which is why i will advice you prevent it instead of falling prey and then attempting to fix it.
Since digital networks became a thing, cellphone cloning has decreased tremendously. What was formerly a popular security hazard to mobile phone owners now affects a reduced number of phones. However, in a market with more than 200 million users, these fraudulent ways still exist. A reduced number of phones might not sound like much but that is still more than 2 million people at risk. And you’ll agree with me that its a lot.
My buddy suddenly received a call from his carrier asking him if he had visited a new country recently. His answer was negative but he was shocked when he was informed by the agent that several calls had been made to and from a new country for sometime. He however had proof that he did not travel so the carrier had to cancel any bill. But for whoever is not as organised to prove anything with the appropriate paperwork or who is self employed, getting out of that situation might’ve been difficult.
My friend had to purchase a new SIM card and phone number just in case, plus a brand new phone with a new IMEI code to ensure it does not repeat itself. Even when the carrier handled the situation, my guy’s phone was taken from him for 14 days while it got fixed.
How Cloning Of Cellphones Works
Digital cell networks signify that several signals can make use of the same channel a single analog call once used. This, and the common knowledge that signals are now binary, makes cell signal scanning somewhat hard. But there is an inner weakness in the system and that is Analog Backups.
In high-traffic locations, several carriers ensure analog cell stations continue running to take care of overflow. When one station gets so busy, it overflows some calls to the analog network. Someone with a scanner within range of that network can get your phone’s IMEI, which is exactly what they require for you to clone it.
Those scanners, despite being illegal, can be accessed on the dark web and can even be bought for around $1,500 i.e 541,440 naira, and chances are whoever is trying to clone a phone anytime soon is not very concerned about how legal the plan is. As soon as they get your phone’s serial number, it is easy to clone your mobile phone and make phonecalls that will be billed to you.
Analog systems made use of CDMA technology, which transmitted your phone’s ESN (Electronic Serial Number) and MIN (Mobile Identification Number) alongside the call data. Digital systems use GSM, which brought about the usage of a phone’s IMEI. Where it was possible to capture the ESN and MIN seamlessly and flash a blank phone with the data to have it cloned, IMEI is slightly different. Now, you need to capture IMEI data and make use of a hardware SIM reader and writer to clone the SIM, and not the card.
With a SIM card cloning tool and a blank SIM, the IMEI can be obtained to a blank SIM as quickly as blinking. You can purchase a SIM card reader and writer for as cheap as $10 i.e. 3,609 naira on eBay or other online market platforms. Scanner are more scarce, but can still be gotten if the searchee searches well.
How To Safeguard Your Phone From Being Cloned
There is not definite way for you to know whether you mobile device has been cloned, but there are some signs. They are:
- A phone call form your carrier requesting if you have traveled.
- A shocking rise in calls or SMS.
- Increased numbers or abandoned incoming calls than you are used to.
- Voice mail that is nowhere to be found or troubles having access to your email.
- Increased and/or unfamiliar call activity on your bill.
If you sense something is up, there are 2 other ways this can be checked.
If you are Android owner, make use of Google Find my Phone to view where it thinks you are. If you are an iPhone user, make use of iCloud to do the same. These will not give you the clearest of answers, but they will at the very least provide a clue if your mobile device has been cloned by a particular person and in which country. However, they will only function if location is activated on the mobile device.
The only way to know if your phone has been cloned is by monitoring your phone bill. Have it checked every month and watch out for any unfamiliar calls. Make use of reverse phone lookup if they not clearly identified to view who it must’ve been. Speak to your carrier if you have any suspicious phone, as they can ascertain the cell tower with which the call was made.
Lastly, some steps to prevent all forms of phone fraud:
- Ensure your phone is with you everytime.
- Have it secured with a PIN or biometric lock.
- Disable Bluetooth and WiFi when they are not in use.
- Do not jailbreak or use unauthorized apps where possible.
- Clear out the cache, browsing history, and cookies from time to time.
- Make use of a security app to ensure the phone is safeguarded.