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The comic-book guide to SIM hacking

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The Citizen Engineer project has released its first publication: a comic book guide to building a SIM reader and then hacking your SIM for fun and profit.

Citizen Engineer is intended to encourage everyone to have a go at hacking stuff - in the old sense of the word - and is dedicated to releasing accessible videos and publications showing the best way to start out, with SIM hacking being the first.

SIMs are the chips used to identify subscribers on GSM networks, and can be freely moved between handsets, as well as put into various commercially-available readers for backing up or exploring. Citizen Engineer takes that idea future by encouraging the reader to build their own SIM Reader and have a go at cloning a SIM.

Cloning a SIM is quite optimistic - these days you'd be hard pushed to find a GSM operator still using cryptography old enough to be easily cracked. But if you're based in one of those countries to which the US authorities won't allow the export of cryptography, then you might discover that's not really an issue. Reading off stored phone numbers, and those recently dialled, is easy enough, however.

You'll also find received SMS messages, and if you pay $35 for the printed version of the comic, you'll get software to decode those messages (7-bit data mapped onto 8-bit files - not pretty) as well as browse the SIM directories. It also bundles all the bits necessary to build the SIM reader - other than a soldering iron and a steady hand.

Alternatively you could download a PDF of the comic and buy yourself a Smart Card reader (we use a Cybermouse from ZietControl) to see what you can find on a SIM chip, with the added advantage of being able to navigate smart cards too. Just don't expect to be able to clone a Chip 'n PIN credit card any time soon. ®

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