How to Find Out if your Phone has been Cloned?
You will agree with the fact that your smartphone is the key to your digital identity. No wonder smartphones (Android or iPhone) are becoming primary targets for cybercriminals. Sophisticated hackers these days are coming up with new techniques to spy on phones. One of the popular methods they are following is phone cloning. Cloning a phone may sound impractical but the bitter truth is that it is happening. But the question is how to find out if your phone has been cloned?
To begin, let us define the terms “hacking” and “cloning” a phone.
What is Phone Cloning?
Some people misinterpret the meaning of phone cloning with phone hacking. So, first, let’s understand the difference between hacking and cloning a phone.
Usually, hacking a phone involves extracting login credentials and other important information from your phone. Whereas phone cloning is copying the identity of one cellular device in order to utilize it on another.
Hence, you should be aware of various methods that intruders follow to clone a phone.
Different Ways of Phone Cloning
These are some of the main ways to find out if your phone has been cloned.
- AMPS Cloning
Advanced Mobile Phone System, full form for AMPS includes analog phones. Don’t be surprised by the name analog phone. It is nothing but the wired phone or the landline telephones.
There is no doubt that digital technology is dominating these days. But some people still prefer to use analog phones along with digital ones.
In AMPS cloning the eavesdroppers with special equipment can acquire the handset ESN (Electronic Serial Number) and MDN (Mobile Directory Number) over the air. The intercepted ESN/MDN pairs can be cloned onto another handset for making phone calls.
- CDMA Cloning
If you remember the flipflop mobile phone having a 2G/3G cellular network, comes under the category of CDMA phones.
CDMA or Code Division Multiple Access cloning is taking control over the devices’ embedded file system directory using specialized software. Through this, the intruder can change the ESN and/or MEID (Mobile Equipment Identifier) of the mobile phone.
- GSM Cloning
This is the most popular cloning method. GSM cloning counts on identifying and copying the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number. It is quite difficult to clone a GSM but the cybercriminal can achieve this through IMEI numbers of SIM cards. In many cases, physical access to the SIM card seems to be the way to extract the IMEI number.
Also, the clever intruders get access to the IMEI number through electronic scanners. But, it is a quite expensive method.
Since you are now familiar with the different methods of cloning, let’s discuss simple signs to know how to find out if your phone has been cloned.
How Can you Tell if your Phone has Been Cloned?
From the behaviour of the phone itself, you can detect that someone has cloned your phone. Some of the hints are listed below:
- Do you receive notifications/text messages to restart your device repeatedly? Then there might be a chance that your SIM has been compromised!
- Any outgoing text or phone call impacts your pocket. So, if you are getting unexpected mobile phone bills then that means you are paying the bills for the intruders.
- A sudden increase in the number of unknown incoming calls or texts indicates that somebody made a duplicate SIM card of yours.
- When you check for ‘find my phone(android)’ or ‘find my iPhone(Apple)’ and it shows two locations for the same phone then you know what does it mean.
Through the above symptoms, you can easily detect that someone else is also using your phone number. But have you thought about its outcome?
Which Data is Lost When Phone is Cloned?
Let’s assume that unfortunately, someone cloned your phone number
The intruder now can easily alter/update the password of your email account. As a result, you won’t be able to access your own important emails.
Also, there is a good chance that you lose control over all the social media accounts including Instagram, WhatsApp, etc. And other accounts like Amazon, Netflix, Flipkart, etc. could be at risk.
Now think of a bigger rather serious situation. What if you cannot withdraw or transfer money from your bank account? Since the hacker is now the new owner of your SIM card or phone number, he can receive OTPs on your behalf and misuse the same.
From the above possible reasons you can clearly say that cloning a phone is nothing but identity theft.
However, in some cases, phone cloning can act as a weapon to tackle cybercrime. After reading the above scenarios you have every right to ask how?
For example, if a cybercriminal clones your phone, with assistance of any cyber expert it is possible to use the phone cloning against him. Secondly, think about it, if a cyber professional like Anuraag Singh successfully clone the phone of a criminal. Then it could assist the police trace its every move and help in arresting the criminal.
To conclude, phone cloning has its merits and demerits. But, unfortunately, most of the time the focus is on the demerit part. Hence, be aware!