Vodafone protects smartphone communications with 'Secure SIM'

The new SIM card will first be rolled out in Germany, and other countries may follow

Vodafone has developed a new SIM card that can be used on smartphones to provide secure access to data networks and tap-proof telephone calls as well as email and text message encryption, the operator said on Monday at the Cebit trade show.

In June, Secure Login will be the first service that uses the Secure SIM, working as an alternative to traditional smart cards, according to Vodafone.

When employees log into their corporate network, the SIM card and server initially exchange key data. The employee is only granted access once the card has been identified and accepted, and a PIN (personal identification number) has been entered.

Later in the summer, the operator will add the ability to encrypt email and phone calls. For the latter to work, both the caller and the receiver need to have a phone with Vodafone's new SIM card.

There is no need for any additional software for the services to work. They will work independently of the OS, and on about 90 percent of all smartphones, according to Vodafone Markus Lause, director of sales consulting and services at Vodafone Germany.

But, for example, the implementation on iOS isn't as secure as the one for Android, because Apple didn't allow it to have access to all the parts of the OS it wanted, Vodafone said, without elaborating.

The Secure SIM has been developed in cooperation with Giesecke & Devrient, a company that specializes in smart cards, but also prints banknotes and passports for the German government.

The new cards will first be introduced in Germany, but if everything goes well they will be rolled out in other countries where Vodafone has networks, according to Vodafone Germany.

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