Wednesday, March 7, 2012
management of subscriberidentification module - Security
telecom companies to procure Under pressure from security agencies, the Department of Telecom will make it mandatory for telecom companies to procure subscriber identification modulecards that are manufactured and personalised in the country. The DoT is also in talks with the Revenue Department to tweak the tax structure to make local manufacturing of subscriber identification modulecards more attractive. At present operators import most of the subscriber identification modulecards used for mobile services from foreign players such as Stumberger, Gem alto and Overturn. Personalisation activities, such as branding, operator specific services and embedding the mobile number on the subscriber identification module, are also done outside the country. According to telecom companies, the current duty structure is heavily loaded in favour of imports and therefore it doesn't make business sense to go local. But the Ministry of Home Affairs has told the DoT that large-scale imports of SIM cards can become a potential security risk because once issued to consumers they remain outside the physical control of the service provider and the monitoring agencies. According to the security agencies, once the encryption keys of any subscriber identification modulecard are compromised, this can be used to trigger various attacks including denial of service, disclosure of location of subscriber, diverting and routing calls. Controlling SIM cards through remote location is known as Over The Air (OTA) management of subscriberidentification module. This technique can allow miscreants to download Trojans and malware. The DoT had earlier issued guidelines for importing telecom equipment under which foreign manufactured network gear are required to be certified by a neutral agency. But this guideline did not include imported SIM cards. DoT sources said that the proposal to offer tax incentives for local procurement of personalised SIM cards has been sent to the Finance Ministry for consideration in the upcoming Budget.