Cell Phone Cloning

Topics: Mobile phone, GSM, Cellular network Pages: 9 (3056 words) Published: March 5, 2013


You might have read news of the cloning of sheep or cattle with amused interest. But how would you feel if somebody `cloned' your mobile phone? Technology is finally rearing up its dark side. Along with the proliferation of technological innovations, this era also marks the birth of the new-age IT criminals in a big way, with the latest technology fraud being cell phone cloning. Cell phone cloning is a technique wherein security data from one cell phone is transferred into another phone. The other cell phone becomes the exact replica of the original cell phone like a clone. As a result, while calls can be made from both phones, only the original is billed. Though communication channels are equipped with security algorithms, yet cloners get away with the help of loop holes in systems. So when one gets huge bills, the chances are that the phone is being cloned. This paper describes about the cell phone cloning with implementation in GSM and CDMA technology phones. It gives an insight into the security mechanism in CDMA and GSM phones along with the loop holes in the systems and discusses on the different ways of preventing this cloning. Moreover, the future threat of this fraud is being elaborated.

1. Introduction
Remember Dolly the lamb, cloned from a six-year-old ewe in 1997, by a group of researchers at the Roslin Institute in Scotland? While the debate on the ethics of cloning continues, human race, for the first time, are faced with a more tangible and harmful version of cloning and this time it is your cell phone that is the target. Millions of cell phones users, be it GSM or CDMA, run at risk of having their phones cloned. As a cell phone user if you have been receiving exorbitantly high bills for calls that were never placed, chances are that your cell phone could be cloned. Unfortunately, there is no way the subscriber can detect cloning. Events like call dropping or anomalies in monthly bills can act as tickers. According to media reports, recently the Delhi (India) police arrested a person with 20 cell- phones, a laptop, a SIM scanner, and a writer. The accused was running an exchange illegally wherein he cloned CDMA based cell phones. He used software named Patagonia for the cloning and provided cheap international calls to Indian immigrants in West Asia.

2. How cell phone works?
Cell phones send radio frequency transmissions through the air on two distinct channels, one for voice communications and the other for control signals. When a cellular phone makes a call, it normally transmits its Electronic Security Number (ESN), Mobile Identification Number (MIN), its Station Class Mark (SCM) and the number called in a short burst of data. This burst is the short buzz you hear after you press the SEND button and before the tower catches the data. These four things are the components the cellular provider uses to ensure that the phone is programmed to be billed and that it also has the identity of both the customer and the phone. MIN and ESN is collectively known as the ‘Pair’ which is used for the cell phone identification. When the cell site receives the pair signal, it determines if the requester is a legitimate registered user by comparing the requestor's pair to a cellular subscriber list. Once the cellular telephone's pair has been recognized, the cell site emits a control signal to permit the subscriber to place calls at will. This process, known as Anonymous Registration, is carried out each time the telephone is turned on or picked up by a new cell site.

3. Security Vulnerabilities in Cell Phone.
Your cellular telephone has three major security vulnerabilities: • Monitoring of your conversations while using the phone. • Your phone being turned into a microphone to monitor conversations in the vicinity of your phone while the phone is inactive. • Cloning or the use of your phone number by others to make calls that...
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