The Cyber cell of Meerut police has revealed a shocking breach of security administered by the Chinese mobile phone manufacturer Vivo. The Meerut police revealed that more than 13000 mobile phones manufactured by Vivo are running on a single IMEI number. An FIR has been registered against the Vivo communications and its service centres. This has been considered as a huge lapse in security on the part of the company.
As per reports, sub-inspector Asharam, who is posted in the office of Additional Director General of Police, Meerut, owns a Vivo mobile phone. When the screen of the mobile broke, he submitted it for repair at the Vivo service centre on Delhi road in Meerut on 24 September 2019. The service centre gave him his mobile phone back after changing the battery, screen, and the FM. A few days later an error started appearing on the display. As the phone was not working properly despite being serviced, he suspected foul play, and gave the phone to cyber cell, which later exposed the huge security issue.
ADG Prashant Kumar directed the investigation to Cybercrime cell-in charge of Meerut zone police, Prabal Kumar Pankaj and cyber expert Vijay Kumar. The investigation found that the IMEI number written on the SI’s mobile is different from the actual IMEI number present in the mobile. On January 16, the manager of the service centre replied that IMEI has not changed. Since the mobile had sim of Jio company, the Cyber cell sent the said IMEI to the telecom company and asked for the data. The report came that made an explosive revelation that on 24 September 2019 from 11 am to 11:30 am, the same IMEI number was running on 13557 mobile phones in the different states of the country.
Violations of TRAI rules
The cyber cell sent a notice to Harmanjit Singh, the nodal officer of Vivo India under Section 91 of the Criminal Procedure Code. However, the Police were not satisfied with the response to the notice. The officials of the company were even unaware that according to the rules of TRAI an IMEI should not be active on more than one mobile number. The cyber cell has admitted that the mobile phone manufacturer is grossly negligent in this matter and violated the rules of TRAI.
Chinese companies have been blacklisted earlier
According to ADG Rajiv Sabarwal, a few years ago when Chinese phones were introduced, then the IMEI number used to be the one. These were a treat in terms of security, so the Indian government blacklisted all the numbers. After this, the rules of TRAI came into force. Under this, an IMEI can be given to only one mobile phone.
ADG Sabarwal said that the investigation is underway after it was revealed the several thousand mobiles are running on a single IMEI number. It is a violation of rules and this can be dangerous in terms of security. If someday a crime has been done through a mobile phone with similar IMEI number, then it won’t be possible to catch the culprit.
IMEI or International Mobile Equipment Identity is a unique 15 digit number which is mandatory for any mobile device having SIM cards. This number helps in identifying a specific mobile device connected to a network. Security agencies can track phones using this number, and stolen phones can be traced and blacklisted.