eSIMs are an advanced alternative to physical SIM cards. They connect users to local carriers in their destination country and give them a local phone number to make calls and send text messages in the same location. eSIMs offer various benefits for users, ranging from high flexibility to reliable internet connectivity and easier travel, not to mention cost-effectiveness. With that in mind, many travellers wonder if eSIMs are safe and if eSIMs can be hacked.
Unsurprisingly, such concerns arise when bringing new technologies to the forefront. eSIM technology is relatively new as it was introduced in 2013 by GSMA, the Global System for Mobile Communications, representing mobile network operators worldwide, and it was only a few years later that eSIM compatible devices entered the market.
This article will explore the common security concerns that interested users have; can eSIMs be hacked? Are eSIMs safe? Continue reading to know the answers and more.
Are eSIM Cards Safe?
It is important to remember that eSIMs are virtual and electronic versions of physical SIM cards. They are directly embedded into eSIM compatible devices, unlike physical SIM cards that need to be manually inserted into devices. eSIM slots are built into devices, and they are activated once the user buys an eSIM package and adjusts the phone’s settings. With that said, here are some security advantages and features provided by eSIMs:
Minimised Swapping Attacks
eSIMs cannot be swapped physically, eliminating the risk of removing your eSIM and replacing it with another one, which is a common tactic used by hackers trying to steal your mobile identity. The lack of the physical aspect in eSIMs ensures your personal data is stored safely within your device.
Moreover, eSIMs support remote provisioning, meaning that they can be updated, downloaded, activated, and managed wirelessly without physically inserting a new SIM card, reducing the risk of swapping attacks.
One of the most important safety features that eSIMs implement is encryption, which refers to the process of converting data to code, so it cannot be read or understood by unauthorised parties. So, with encryption implemented in eSIMs, users’ data is protected from unauthorised access, preventing it from getting stolen. eSIM data encryption includes both data in transit and data at rest.
It is worth mentioning that data in transit refers to data in motion and data in flight between source and destination, while data at rest is data that has reached a destination and is not accessed or used, such as user account information.
Authentication is the process of verifying the identity of a user or a device, ensuring that the user or device is who or what it claims to be. eSIMs support various forms of authentication to ensure that only authorised users and devices access the eSIM.
Authentication is based on a challenge-response mechanism, where the user or device is required to provide some form of identification, such as a password, a security token, or a biometric measure. As for eSIMs, each eSIM compatible device has a secret code that only it knows, and the carrier gives the device a challenge to prove it knows the code. If the device gets the challenge right, the carrier knows it is really the device it claims to be. The eSIM can have different secret codes for different carriers, making the process very secure.
First, a secure element is a dedicated hardware component or area on a device designed to store and protect sensitive information, including cryptographic keys, passwords, and other forms of sensitive data. The secure element is often used with software-based security mechanisms to provide a layered approach to security.
Moreover, eSIMs are stored in a secure element (SE) on eSIM compatible devices, protecting all sensitive information and data of the eSIM and preventing unauthorised access.
Trusted Execution Environment
A trusted execution environment (TEE) is a secure area of a device's processor isolated from the main operating system and applications, offering a trusted environment for executing sensitive operations. Based on that, eSIMs leverage the trusted execution environment (TEE) to be protected from attacks and ensure secure operations.
Can eSIMs Be Hacked?
Even though eSIMs are considered safe, they are not 100% immune to hacking - just like any other technology. There have been some reported vulnerabilities and attacks targeting eSIMs, including remote code execution and supply chain attacks, which allow hackers to access sensitive information or take control of a device.
So, to reduce the risk of eSIM hacks, you must keep your devices and software up-to-date and use strong passwords and biometric authentication where available. It is also important to work with reputable carriers and device manufacturers, prioritising and implementing advanced security measures.
eSIMs are constantly evolving, and they are expected to replace physical SIMs altogether in the future. Discover the best international eSIM packages from MobiMatter today and purchase the best one for your needs.