Imported SIM cards under scanner of security agencies

The Telecom Department and central security agencies have been entrusted with the task to carry out a "joint technical assessment" of existing SIM cards which have been imported in view of the security threat posed by them and present their report to the Home Ministry, official sources said.

The telecom service providers may also be asked to absorb replacement cost of all such SIM cards, they said.

While nearly 70 per cent of SIM cards are manufactured in the country, over 30 per cent are imported and pose a threat to security, official sources said.

The security agencies fear that SIM being "mini computer", malware programs can be embedded in them which result in tracking and monitoring of telephone activity undertaken by the users, they said.

The security agencies say that this vulnerability can be eliminated by "personalisation" of SIM cards by telecom service providers but the companies are outsourcing this process to manufacturing facilities abroad and are providing those companies with inscription keys which in turn is enhancing the susceptibility.

The Telecom Department (DOT) had also proposed that service providers be asked to personalise the SIM cards "necessarily" in the country only, official sources said.
The DOT has also been asked to instruct the telecom service providers to upgrade their softwares in a way to identify duplicate and fake SIM cards, they said.

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