Friday, October 26, 2007


During a recent cell phone exam, I encountered an interesting dilemma. When the phone was powered on it required a SIM PIN. Making things worse there was no indication who the carrier was, and the owner of the phone was unwilling to provide the code or any information. The investigator needed information from the phone as quickly as possible.

OK- so the SIM card was locked, not the phone. Some phones, including the one in question, stored a considerable amount of the information within the phone’s memory not just the SIM Card. So I decided to put another SIM Card into the phone and I powered up and had access to the handset’s data.

However, there is a catch. When you acquire the data from the phone you need to use a blank SIM (No stored data). (Note: You should be able to find a good SIM Card from your test handsets-MORE). In this case, I used a SIM from a Nextel that was a replacement (new) phone with the SIM not having been encoded. With the unlocked SIM, there’s nothing to stop you from acquiring the data within the phone.

The above screenshots shows how I used a phone which was originally a T-Mobile phone, and an empty Nextel SIM card. Notice that Nextel comes up on the main screen as function of the SIM. However, the phonebook and call histories were contained within the phone’s memory.

I also noticed the phone’s identity with it’s carrier is determined by the SIM. You might get lucky and find a phone entry for voice mail, which is often the number of the phone itself. One other possibility is an entry in the phonebook which is labeled “My Number.” Regardless, this is a simple way of bypassing the SIM lock to get at the information you need.

Submitted by Richard McKee

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