• Bizarre behavior of a non-smart mobile phone

    From Mok-Kong Shen@21:1/5 to All on Sun May 14 21:25:04 2017
    That a modern smartphone with Internet access and a multitude of nice
    features is liable of being hacked similar to a PC is evident. On the
    other hand, a non-smart mobile phone, of design of the earlier
    generation, unintelligent, clumsy, no Internet access, though yet
    purchasable for telephone and SMS purposes only, could IMHO easily
    mislead one to think that the device may be sufficiently secure against malicious manipulations. The fact, I presume, is however that, if an
    adversary is capable enough to enter the cellular network, he could
    access the SIM card to perform his malicious work. A recent personal
    experience of mine is the following: I bought such a device and a
    pre-paid SIM card, entered the telephone numbers of my friends into its
    contact address list and informed my friends of my new mobile phone
    number. Soon, though at a rather low frequency averaging roughly one
    event per day, a number of my friends complained that I had called them
    but strangely never attempted to say even a single word. It turned out
    that the device each time seemingly arbitrarily selected an entry in
    the contact address list and called automatically, which could also be
    verified by its list of all outgoing calls. As remedy I deleted all
    telephone numbers of my friends in it, leaving however for experimental
    purpose my own home telephone number. One following night I had then
    the uncommon experience of being awoken by a call from my own mobile
    phone! (Actually two new mobile phones of the same brand were tested.
    Following my complains of the said phenomenon, the vender gave me a
    new exemplar in exchange, so that the probability of there being a manufacturing problem is vanishingly small.)

    Another phenomenon that co-occurs with the above is that the device
    powers off automatically at a frequency comparable to the first, even
    though its battery is sufficiently loaded.

    Being a layman in such issues, I should be very grateful for exact
    explanations of the phenomena.


    (1) I am mainly interested in technical explanations of the phenomena,
    i.e. whether it is indeed true, and if yes how, that the SIM card in my
    mobile phone got manipulated, and personally deem it neither favorable,
    nor essential, realistic, etc. to conjecture on the motivations behind
    such manipulations, if these indeed happened.

    (2) Googling with e.g. "cell phones calling themselves" will turn up
    a lot of apparently similar cases which, I guess, could stem from
    diverse different causes in practice. It seems that there have not been
    much scientifically exact and detailed investigations done on the issue
    and that the phenomenon can occur both to modern smartphones with
    Internet access (hence higher liability of being hacked) and to the
    non-smart mobile phones without Internet access.

    M. K. Shen


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