Leading communications and technology company Verizon has been awarded a patent for using virtual subscriber identity modules (vSIMs) for customers’ devices.

A filing with the United States Patent and Trademark Office on Sept. 10 details a blockchain encryption technology, wherein a traditional physical SIM card can be replaced with a software SIM version. According to the filing, this ensures more security and the existence of only one copy of the vSIM on one device at a time. The document further explains:

“The network device initiates creation of a blockchain including a vSIM certificate for the network services, wherein the vSIM certificate includes an International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI). […] The vSIM can be retrieved and used by any one of different devices associated with the user account, transferred between devices associated with the same user account, or temporarily assigned to other users.”

VSIMs are secured with a special authentication code which precludes any parties from accessing it if the authentication code received from a customer’s device does not match the authentication code registered with the vSIM platform.

In a dedicated analysis published in November last year, Cointelegraph reported that an anonymous source at Verizon had been approached via Reddit, where he was offered bribes in exchange for SIM swaps. He was told that he could make up to $1,000 per week for transferring customers’ phone numbers onto new SIM cards.

Another Verizon employee claimed that the hacker, who also found him on Reddit, promised that they would make “$100,000 in a few months” if he would cooperate — all he had to do is “either activate the SIM cards for [the hacker] when [he was] at work or give [the attacker his] Employee ID and PIN.”


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