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Is an eSIM safe? eSIM security vs. a physical SIM

The appearance of eSIM technology has simplified traveling for many, but not everyone has welcomed it with open arms. Many people are still worried about the safety of this technology. This article will address these concerns by exploring common security questions related to removable SIM cards, focusing on eSIMs. It will also compare the security of eSIM and traditional SIM cards to answer the question, “Is an eSIM safer than a physical SIM card?” and ultimately decide, “Are eSIMs safe?”

Is an eSIM safe? eSIM security vs. a physical SIM

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Is an eSIM safe? Five questions we should ask ourselves

We get it – new technologies can seem daunting. You’re not alone in your concerns. That’s why we’re answering the five most asked questions to help you better understand eSIM security and privacy.

Can an eSIM be hacked?

eSIM (embedded subscriber identity module) technology employs various additional security measures that make it less prone to hacking than physical SIMs. Those measures include a secure element, which stores sensitive data and protects it from unauthorized access or tampering, adding an extra layer of protection against hacking attempts.

However, you should remember that no connected device is 100% immune to hacking. And since eSIMs are used on connected devices, like any other technology, they are vulnerable to malware, social engineering, and phishing attacks. It’s important to note that these exploits are not exclusive to eSIMs and can affect any service.

So, to stay safe, always be cautious when using any device. Avoid clicking suspicious links and downloading apps or files from suspicious sources. Invest in anti-malware software and keep your operating system up-to-date for even stronger smartphone security.

To stay on top of hackers, learn to tell if your phone is hacked. If it gets infected, you can take action in time to prevent further damage.

Can an eSIM be cloned?

Due to how the technology works, eSIM cloning can be possible but is unlikely. To clone a SIM card, you need physical access to the item. Since hackers cannot physically touch an eSIM card, it’s hard to clone it.

You might wonder if an embedded SIM can be cloned remotely. The answer is no. Mobile network operators tightly control the setup and management of eSIM profiles, making it nearly impossible for hackers to clone them.

Cloning any SIM card requires obtaining and replicating an international mobile subscriber identifier (IMSI) number and an encryption key that mobile carriers use to identify the cellular line. To do that, hackers must contact their mobile network operator and undergo various authentication protocols.

Can an eSIM be tracked?

It’s possible to track eSIMs, but they aren’t more trackable than physical SIM cards. Mobile device tracking primarily relies on the device’s unique international mobile equipment identifier (IMEI) number, not the type of SIM card used. This unique identifier allows network operators and authorities to track the device. So, as long as your phone is connected to a network, your mobile network provider, the authorities, and even hackers can determine its location.

Users have some control over tracking. Turning off location services can prevent apps from accessing your location, and a VPN can help maintain privacy by masking your internet activity.

Is eSIM safe from SIM swapping?

With eSIMs, SIM swapping is still possible even if you can’t physically remove them from a SIM card slot. SIM swapping happens when a hacker impersonates you, tricks your network provider into activating a new SIM card they control, and disables your current SIM.

SIM card swapping is a form of identity theft and fraud and is just as risky with eSIMs as with physical SIMs. If the hacker succeeds, they take control of your phone number. This way, they can intercept your calls and messages and access services that use your phone number for verification, like two-factor authentication (2FA), potentially allowing them to access your financial accounts.

However, SIM swapping is not more common with eSIMs than with physical SIMs. The chance of hackers being successful depends on how your network provider verifies and validates customer identities.

Is an eSIM safe if the phone gets stolen?

One of the main upsides of an eSIM is that it has more physical security than a traditional SIM card. If the phone gets stolen, thieves can’t physically remove the eSIM. Disabling or replacing an eSIM typically requires authorization, making it more difficult for thieves to exploit. This makes the device almost impossible to resell, as a stolen phone with an active eSIM profile is easily traceable.

However, a determined criminal can find a way to reset the device. But it will take much longer, giving you more time to track down your phone. In case of loss or physical theft, you can try remote wiping your device to prevent unauthorized access.

Is an eSIM safer than a physical SIM card? The verdict

More and more phone manufacturers incorporate eSIMs into their devices because of their convenience and other features. However, it’s essential to understand how eSIMs compare to removable SIM cards across different security aspects to determine if they genuinely provide a safer option.

eSIMTraditional SIM
SIM hacking
Can be hacked through malware and phishingVulnerable to hacking
SIM cloning
Less prone since it’s embedded into the devicePossible if physically accessed
SIM swapping
Possible, depending on the security of your service providerPossible, depending on the security of your service provider
Equally trackable as a physical cardEqually trackable as an eSIM
Physical security
Less prone because eSIMs can’t be removed or deactivatedCan be physically removed and replaced

Overall, eSIMs are more secure than physical SIM cards, particularly regarding physical security and resistance to cloning. The embedded nature of eSIMs means you can’t physically remove or tamper with them as easily as traditional SIMs, significantly reducing the risk of many security threats. However, they’re not entirely immune. They share similar vulnerabilities with physical SIM cards when it comes to hacking, tracking, and SIM swap attacks. Both types of SIMs can be targeted by malware, social engineering, and phishing attacks. Therefore, it remains essential for users to maintain good cybersecurity practices.

How to make an eSIM even more secure

Using a VPN (virtual private network) is a smart choice to make your eSIM more secure, especially when traveling. A VPN encrypts your internet connection, stopping hackers from gaining access to your data. This is especially important if you want to use public Wi-Fi, which isn’t secure. Using a VPN, you can protect sensitive information, like passwords, bank details, and personal messages, from data theft.

Some eSIM apps, like Saily, provide a secure data option when traveling. It’s a versatile eSIM app that allows you to choose from different data plans in at least 150 countries worldwide. This way, your data will be even more secure as you won’t need public Wi-Fi. Check out our Saily review to learn more about it.

Besides using a VPN, be careful about what you share online. Hackers often use tricks, called social engineering attacks, to get people to give away their personal information. Be wary of emails, messages, or calls that ask for your data, as these can be phishing scams. Always check if these requests are genuine before you respond or click on any links. Also, update your passwords regularly, use two-factor authentication, and update your devices’ security settings.

While a VPN helps keep your internet traffic secure, being cautious online is crucial. Keep your personal information private on social media, and always watch out for phishing or social engineering attacks. Being careful is the first and most important step to protect your privacy and security online.