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What is a SIM Copier?

By Summer Banks
Updated: May 16, 2024

A Subscriber Identity Module card (SIM) copier is an electronic device that reads information stored on your cell phone SIM card. The information may either be stored on the device for future use, or used immediately to transfer phonebook contacts and saved data from one SIM to another. Some SIM copiers work with only 2G cards, while others work with both 2G and 3G.

A SIM card may hold all personal contact information stored on a cell phone. When a new phone is purchased, a SIM copier can be used to transfer all contact information from the old SIM to the new one. As a backup tool, a SIM copier may be able to store this information in case of accidental damage or loss of the SIM or phone.

While some SIM copiers store data on the machine, others transfer information to a personal computer (PC). A PC SIM copier may require a USB connection to the computer. The copier acts as a portal through which information is passed from SIM card to software installed on the PC.

If information must be copied to a new SIM, the USB is reinserted with a new SIM in place, and contacts are moved from PC to SIM. If information is stored directly on the copying device, any damage to that device may cause loss of information. When information is moved to the PC, it can often be edited before copying to the new card.

In some cases, a SIM copier can be used to create a SIM clone. Clones are exact copies of the original SIM that can be used in a separate phone. In order to copy the encrypted information from one SIM to another, a SIM copier and clone software may be needed. Clone software attempts to read International Mobile Subscriber Identifier (IMSI) and Authentication Key (Ki) from the SIM card. Once read, the information can be used to mold a second SIM to mirror the first.

SIM copiers vary in size. The smallest are often the size of a keychain, — just large enough to fit the card into a reader. Larger, handheld models are also available. SIM copiers are frequently used by cell phone providers when customers change phones. They are used to move old data from one SIM to another, as a convenience to the customer. Businesses may also use SIM copiers to store contact information from a business phone that may be important.

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Discussion Comments
By anon284849 — On Aug 12, 2012

Is it possible that I can access my old, damaged sim card through this sim copier? I really need this. That old sim card is so important to me.

By SkyWhisperer — On Aug 10, 2011

@MrMoody - I don’t know about specific SIM copier devices per se, but I have a SIM reader in my computer.

With this device I am able to insert my SIM card into the computer and read the information that is on it.

The computer, therefore, becomes the backup storage device. I can copy my email messages, pictures, text and so forth on to my computer, and back on to the SIM card.

By MrMoody — On Aug 10, 2011

@Charred - Yes, it is possible to encrypt SIM cards. The technology has been around for quite some time. I don’t think that SIM copier technology itself benefits identity thieves, however.

The reason is that people who want to steal your information will just steal the SIM card in whole, rather than try to copy it. Therefore SIM copier technology is not a major risk in my opinion.

By Charred — On Aug 09, 2011

I wonder if people with criminal intentions could use a SIM copier to steal data off of someone’s cell phone? I would think that information stored on a cell phone SIM would be considered somewhat private and that it shouldn’t be easy to simply copy information through use of a device or software?

Given the threat of identity theft, I think that there should be some way of encrypting SIM information so that it is not easily copied. Does anyone know if such technology exists?

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