Monday, January 16, 2006

Trends: Phone cloning

There's a report today about how cell phone cloning is way up in Korea despite massive attempts to stop cloning, with 6,574 cloned phones in 2005 compared with 858 in 2004. Cloning is done by listening to the airwaves and capturing the ESN and mobile phone number of a handset, then using them in a new phone. This is very hard to do, but possible for both GSM and CDMA phones. It used to be a huge problem with analog phones, and Ted Rogers, the CEO of Rogers Wireless, had his own phone cloned a few years ago, but it's less of an issue now, although the number of cases is rarely known.

There is no way to directly know if your phone was cloned, and the first indication comes when someone uses a cloned phone, since their calls will appear on your bill. Many providers have security features that raise a red flag when calling patterns change, like if you're mainly doing calls from Toronto to other Ontario cities, and one month your bill starts showing calls from Syria and Iran. However you remain responsible for all calls made on your account, and if those security protections don't work, you may be left with a $12,237.60 bill to pay.

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