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What’s an eSIM?

Beware of SIM Swapping Scam: You Can Lose Your Money.

SIM swapping scams.

The SIM in ‘SIM card’ stands for ‘subscriber identity module.’ These tiny plastic chips hold data for your phones – such as your phone number, contacts, messages, and photos. Up until two years ago, they were the only way to connect your phone with your local mobile network and to make calls and texts. But more phone suppliers are now shipping phones with eSIMs, including the first handset with a 5G standalone-compatible eSIM in Australia, suggesting that sometime soon most new handsets will support eSIM technology, if not as a replacement to SIM cards, as an additional SIM option.

What’s an eSIM?


An eSIM, or ‘embedded SIM,’ replaces the need for a physical SIM card. It’s essentially an electronic SIM card that’s been embedded into your phone at the time of your phone’s manufacture. An eSIM is an embedded SIM that is built into a smartphone. It dismisses the need for a physical SIM though it works exactly like it, provided your network carrier supports eSIM. Using an eSIM has benefits and also limitations. Let’s have a look at some of each:

Advantages of using an eSIM.


You can have more than one phone number.

Like using a phone with dual SIM card slots, having an eSIM enables you to have multiple phone numbers. The main benefit of this is you can make and receive calls and texts with either number, so you can more easily manage your incoming and outgoing communications.

For this reason, they can be highly useful for separating your personal and work missives. You can also use an eSIM in conjunction with a physical SIM card, so they allow you to personalize your connectivity across your devices.

They are easier to activate than SIM cards.

While physical SIM cards need to be inserted into your phone for them to be activated, a task often requiring the hand steadiness of a surgeon, an eSIM can be activated simply by scanning a QR code that registers your eSIM profile with your mobile network. Some networks may require you to also enter a pin number. In most cases in Australia, you can be connected to your network in no more than 15 minutes.

They make changing service providers easier.

Having a phone with an eSIM allows you to change networks much faster since it eliminates the need for you to get a new plastic SIM card. That means not having to visit your network’s retailer or wait for a card to arrive by post. By using an eSIM on your phone you can choose your service provider and then connect to their network remotely, getting the information you need to connect over the phone or online.

You won’t have to permanently disable accounts.

eSIMs can store multiple profiles, meaning you can temporarily switch between networks and back without having to permanently disable accounts. This feature is especially useful while traveling, allowing you to stay connected to a network wherever you go. It’s also often a more affordable alternative to activating global roaming functionality.

They take up less space inside smartphones.

Nano SIMs are the cards currently in use in most modern smartphones. These tiny cards measure approximately 8.8mm, but eSIMS measure just 4mm. The smaller size means phone manufacturers have more space to add extra features, like more battery capacity or to enhance a phone’s processing power with a faster CPU. It also allows them to improve a phone’s IP rating against water and dust since the absence of a SIM card slot means there are fewer ingress points.

Disadvantages of using an eSIM.


It takes longer to restore in a new phone.

If your phone breaks, chances are your tiny plastic SIM that was tucked away inside your phone will be relatively unscathed. You can simply pull it out and insert it into a new handset – but this is not the case with an eSIM. You will need to retrieve and download your eSIM profile from the cloud, which is considerably more time-consuming to do. It also takes longer than it would take to transfer into a new handset when you upgrade.

Users can be more easily tracked by network providers.

Users worried about privacy can easily prevent their mobile network from tracking their location by removing their phone’s physical SIM card. However, since eSIMs can’t be removed and are hardwired into the device, eSIM users’ phones will be constantly active on their carrier’s network, and more easily traceable. While admittedly this shouldn’t be an issue for most citizens in countries like Australia, elsewhere in the world this could be a big issue, such as for individuals belonging to groups being persecuted by their governments.

Hacking.

From a security perspective, eSIMs are generally very safe in that they can’t be physically removed and placed in other devices by thieves and they can be programmed to request verification from operators whenever someone tries to change a user profile. However, they aren’t completely safe from fraud with hackers often going to great lengths to hack into vulnerable mobile carriers' systems to retrieve user profiles or information.

Which Smartphones have eSIMs?


The current crop of Apple iPhones, including the iPhone 12, iPhone 11 series, and iPhone XS, XR, and SE 2, smartphones have eSIMs, as do Samsung’s latest smartphones, including the Samsung Galaxy S20 and Samsung Galaxy S21. Some recently reviewed phones that include eSIMs include:

  1. Oppo Find X3 Pro
  2. Google Pixel 5
  3. Google Pixel 4a
  4. Samsung Galaxy S21
  5. iPhone 12
  6. Huawei P40 Pro

Benefits of eSIM.


Along with this, eSIM fraud has also started gaining popularity with increasing SIM swapping scams.
  1. Doesn’t require a standalone slot in the smartphone, hence, saves space for a battery or makes the phone thinner.
  2. Works well for wearables such as a smartwatch.
  3. Can be enabled/disabled by the network carrier remotely.
  4. Eliminates the risk of damaged SIM cards etc.

Protect Yourself.


Be cautious about unknown calls claiming to be from Customer Care Executives of Mobile Operators and asking for sending the SMS contents being told by them.

Never reveal personal/financial details like Email id, Bank account no, card no, expiry date, PIN, password, CVV, etc with anyone over phone call/email / SMS.

For eSIM registration, always visit the verified website or authorized outlets of concerned telecom operators.

Is it safe to have an eSIM?


From a security perspective, eSIMs are generally very safe in that they can't be physically removed and placed in other devices by thieves and they can be programmed to request verification from operators whenever someone tries to change a user profile.

Government has an advisory on how not to fall for e-SIM registration fraud.


Cybercriminals are finding new ways to steal money from citizens. According to the latest tweet by We, a safety and cyber security awareness handle maintained by the Ministry of Home Affairs, fraudsters are making bogus calls on the pretext of registration for e-SIM. Pretending to aid in the registration process, these scamsters obtain bank details and personal information from the users. The information is then used by the scamsters to dupe them for money.

e-SIM is a comparatively new telecom service for users in India. An e-SIM does away with the need for a physical SIM.

In the post, We warned citizens not to disclose the details to unidentified callers. It further advises customers to visit the official website/authorized outlets of the concerned telco in case of E-SIM registration.

“Do not disclose any personal information to any unidentified caller asking for e-Sim registration. For e-SIM Registration, visit the verified website or authorized outlets of concerned telecom operators,” reads the latest tweet by We.

Do not disclose any personal information to any unidentified caller asking for E-Sim registration. eSIM is one of the new technologies that has become quite popular as various telecom operators such as Airtel, Jio and Vodafone have started providing people with the option to go for one.

However, the new trend is also prone to fraudulent activities that can steal your money. Today, I will narrate to you what an eSIM fraud is and how you can remain safe from it.

4 men lose Rs 21 lakh to e-SIM fraud: Here’s how it works.


4 people in Hyderabad lost Rs 21 lakh in e-SIM activation fraud. Criminals made victims activate their e-SIMs and stole money from their bank accounts. It all started with a simple message warning them of their SIM card getting blocked or KYC update or something similar. The cybercrime wing of Maharashtra Police too recently issued an advisory against eSIM scams. Here’s how they work

Usually starts with a ‘warning message’

The victim usually receives a message warning that his/her SIM card will be blocked. “Dear customer, your SIM card will be blocked in 24 hours.” Or “Please update your eKYC verification.”

e-SIM fraud

The caller claims to be from Airtel, Reliance Jio or Vodafone-Idea

After the message, fraudsters call their victim pretending to be a telecom company’s customer care executive; say from Airtel, Reliance Jio, or Vodafone-Idea.

​Then comes the email/link

The message, which looks like from the customer care cell of a mobile service provider, asks customers to click on a link and fill out a form.

​The email is actually cybercriminals registering their ID for all bank communication

After getting their own email ID registered with the victim's mobile number, the caller then asks the victim to forward an eSIM request to the service provider with the registered email ID.

The form asks victims to fill in their names and banking details

Once the eSIM service gets activated, the activation QR code for eSIM goes to the email ID given by the fraudster.

The fraudster then activates eSIM on his handset by scanning the received QR code

After eSIM activation, the physical SIM that is running in the victim's phone automatically gets blocked.

​A fraudster can now access all banking information, OTPs, etc.

The fraudster registers the eSIM with digital wallets and links it to the victim’s bank accounts to steal money.

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