Feeds

BT Cellnet PUKs up phone security

A mobile unblocking free-for-all

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

Updated A new BT Cellnet automated phone service has left security observers and mobile operators despairing. The company has brought out a touch-tone service that will give you the PUK for any BT Cellnet phone - all you need is the mobile's phone number.

PUK stands for Personal Unblocking Key, and is the eight-digit number you get on your SIM card certificate when you buy your phone. If you've got the PUK, then you have the ability to insert a new PIN number.

Which is useful if you've locked your PIN by getting it wrong three times, or if - just say - you didn't know the number in the first place.

So if someone had your phone and knew its calling number, they could easily override PIN security and then insert their own PIN. By making the PUK numbers for any phone instantly available to anyone and everyone, BT Cellnet has put a big question mark over phone security.

As an indication of the sensitivity of the PUK number, we have been unable to find any other mobile operator in Europe which will admit to providing it without significant evidence that the caller is the owner of the phone. In the UK, Vodafone assured us that someone will have to pass a full ID check, including various passwords, to be given their PUK number.

Orange and One2One have so far failed to get back to us, but the advice on their respective Web sites asks for the same form of identification.

BT Cellnet has yet to respond to our queries. We'll keep you informed.

Update

Contrary to what Vodafone told us above, it does have an automated service that will give you the PUK number if you tap in the mobile number. But only if it’s a Pay-as-you-talk phone, so the potential for running up fraudulent bills is greatly reduced. ®

Related Stories

IMEI numbers no antidote to mobile fraud
Jack Straw shoots back in the Net
How to get back your nicked mobile

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Seagate brings out 6TB HDD, did not need NO STEENKIN' SHINGLES
Or helium filling either, according to reports
European Court of Justice rips up Data Retention Directive
Rules 'interfering' measure to be 'invalid'
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Cisco reps flog Whiptail's Invicta arrays against EMC and Pure
Storage reseller report reveals who's selling what
Just what could be inside Dropbox's new 'Home For Life'?
Biz apps, messaging, photos, email, more storage – sorry, did you think there would be cake?
IT bods: How long does it take YOU to train up on new tech?
I'll leave my arrays to do the hard work, if you don't mind
Amazon reveals its Google-killing 'R3' server instances
A mega-memory instance that never forgets
USA opposes 'Schengen cloud' Eurocentric routing plan
All routes should transit America, apparently
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.