This essay offered by MiniTool organization mainly talks about the phone clone topic. It briefly introduces the cell phone clone in different times in history and talks more about the clone of modern SIM cards. Find your interest part in this post.

What Is Phone Clone?

Phone clone is the process of copying the identity or data from one cellular device to another, such as cell phones/cellphones, smartphones, mobile phones, handsets, and handphones.

How to Clone a Phone? (Identity)

In the past, cloning a phone is as simple as a piece of cake. To clone the signal of a phone, all you need to do is to intercept into the signal of the cell phone.

AMPS Clone

Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS) was an analog mobile phone system standard originally created by Bell Labs and was modified together by Bell Labs and Motorola company.

The mobile phones running AMPS is notorious for their security problems. Common listeners could easily hear conversations as plain narrowband FM (frequently modulation). And, with specialized equipment, eavesdroppers were easily intercepted handphone Electronic Serial Numbers (ESN) and Mobile Directory Numbers (MDN or CTN, the Cellular Telephone Number) over the air.

The intercepted ESN/MDN pairs would be cloned onto another handphone and used in other regions for making calls without paying. This kind of fraud was widespread. Due to that, some carriers required a PIN before making calls; or, some of them used a system of radio fingerprinting to detect the clones.

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CDMA Clone

Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) mobile phone clone involves gaining access to the device’s embedded file system /nvm/num directory via specialized software of replacing a modified EEPROM (also E2PROM, electrically erasable programmable read-only memory) into the target mobile phone while enabling the ESN or Mobile Equipment Identifier (MEID) of the mobile phone to be changed.

By modifying MEID, ESN, the phone’s Preferred Roaming List (PRL), and the Mobile Identification Number (MIN), the target phone is now a clone of the phone from which the original MIN and ESN data were obtained. Thus, it is a pavement of the way for making fraudulent calls.

GSM Clone

GSM clone refers to back up a secret key from the target SIM card without any internal data. GSM smartphones don’t have MIN or ESN. It only has an International Mobile Station Equipment Identity (IMEI) number. To get the IMEI, there are several ways. The usual way is to hack into the cellular company or to eavesdrop on the cellular network.

To clone a GSM SIM card, just remove it from its original cell phone, place a device between the SIM card and the phone, and let it operate some time to extract the Ki (a 128-bit value used in authenticating the SIMs) or secret code. Though it is very difficult to clone a modern phone with a SIM card due to the secret code, it is not impossible.

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How to Clone a Phone with a SIM Card?

If a handset has the option of an “extended battery”, you can clone the SIM card by placing the normal size battery in the handset and the Ki in the vacant extra space. Just allow the device to log the interaction between the mobile phone switching office and the handset.

However, clone phone is outlawed in American. The effectiveness of cloning phones is limited. Each smartphone has a radio fingerprint in its transmission signal that remains unique to that phone despite changes to the phone’s MIN, IMEI, or ESN. So, cellular companies are often able to catch the cloned phones when there are differences between the fingerprint and the ESN, MIN, or IMEI.

Why Need to Clone a Phone?

Besides the illegal reason of cloning a phone for free calls, there are still some reasons for people to clone Android phones, iPhones, etc. For example, some users clone a phone to retain the features of a phone or to share a phone with somebody in their household without paying for a second line.

Yet, no matter which reason you bear, it is not recommended to clone a phone, especially to someone else’s phone (neither identity nor data) without their knowing. They are illegal! Also, cloning your phone identity won’t make you untraceable just as described above and it may result in your phone being shut off, and even you be banned from the service.

However, you are allowed to clone your own data on your phone for copying those data won’t enable another phone to listen in on your calls or share your number.

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