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Support what is the unique parameter of a mobile phone?

Discussion in 'Android Help' started by louis2008, Sep 12, 2016.

  1. louis2008

    louis2008 Well-Known Member
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    Hi, I have a couple of conceptual questions about mobile and Android

    1. Is there any, and what is the unique parameter that distinguishes two identical mobile phone? (when they are of the same model and same spec, same color ... ) ? Is IMEI the only term that makes it unique? In addition to IMEI anything else?

    Does the "Phone ID" mean IMEI or anything otherwise?

    2. It's said, as SIM card is inserted and connected to the cellular network, it would send the IMEI to the nearby stations for things like detecting your location, in addition to IMEI , anything else would be sent to the nearby receivers?

    3.Normally speaking, is the IMEI number only available to Government and Police for investigation on request, otherwise than that, what is the usefulness of IMEI number?

    4. Theoretically speaking, any security concern, if my IMEI is known to somebody else, could he do anything to steal my data on my mobile device

    5. Can I do anything to change my IMEI number

    Thanks for all conceptual answers

     

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  2. Bg260

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    IMEI can be used to blacklist a device. It is monitored by the network carrier. Most Android devices also have a unique Google Services Framework number. This is so the Playstore can authorize the downloading of applications. The GSF number changes when a factory reset is performed. That's about all I know.

    There is a simple test here that you can use to check the status of your IMEI/MEID.

    https://swappa.com/esn
     
    #2 Bg260, Sep 12, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2016
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  3. Hadron

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    The IMEI cannot itself be used to steal data from your phone, though if someone both knew this and had access to your carrier's systems (less likely, unless we're talking about the authorities) they could use it to locate your phone. The SIM also has a unique identifier, but that can be swapped between different phones.

    It is technically possible to change the IMEI on many phones. So if someone gets hold of your IMEI they could copy it to another phone, e.g. as a way of getting round the blacklisting of a handset. You don't want this to happen because if it's detected your IMEI will be blacklisted as well. In any event you should know that it is illegal to modify the IMEI in many countries, and for that reason nobody here can tell you how to do it.
     
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  4. scary alien

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  5. Bg260

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    Here's a tiny app I found that displays your Android ID. You'll have to enable "Unknown Sources" in order to install it though.
     

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  6. louis2008

    louis2008 Well-Known Member
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    Hello, Thank you for your reply.

    Sorry I do not speak English very well (not 1st language) so I have some confusion.

    1. As a way of getting round the blacklisting of a handset?? <<< What does it mean? I don't understand.

    2. Would you also answer my question raised earlier -- In addition to IMEI, anything else that is unique to a phone? Does "Phone ID" actually mean IMEI or totally another thing?

    3.Could the carrier's system sell or report IMEI to any third parties which is not authorities? For any reasons
    otherwise than criminal investigation? I know it's POSSIBLE in probabilities terms, but is it LIKELY ?
     
  7. Hadron

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    If a handset is stolen its IMEI can be "blacklisted", i.e. it is added to a list that (in most countries) is shared between carriers, and the networks will not connect that handset. This renders it useless as a phone. Handsets are also blacklisted when contracts are broken or they are used in frauds. So for example, if somebody gets an expensive phone cheaply/for free by signing a contract that commits them to pay for 2 years, then after 2 months decides that they don't want to pay any more, the phone will be blacklisted (because they didn't get it for free, they were paying for it through their monthly charges, so when they stopped paying those the carrier cut them off). An example of fraud would be an insurance scam: the criminal claims that the phone has been lost/stolen/destroyed and claims for a new one off insurance, then tries to sell the old one. In both cases the handset will be blacklisted to deter such behaviour (stealing from either the carrier or the insurance company).

    Since the blacklisting works by identifying that the IMEI of the handset is on a list, if you can change the IMEI of the phone to one that hasn't been blacklisted then you can use it again, which means you have got round the blacklist. Or you have until somebody realises that there are 2 handsets with the same IMEI in use, at which point it's likely the new IMEI will be blacklisted too.

    And this is also why you should take a little care with buying phones off people you don't know: if you buy a phone off someone who is pulling one of the scams above, or buy a stolen phone, you will end up holding a blacklisted handset.
    It depends on the context. As others have posted, if you are writing an app to be installed on a phone then there are other identifiers that can be used to identify which phone it is installed on (for anti-piracy purposes, for example). For a GSM network the IMEI is the main identifier I can think of. CDMA networks (2 of the 4 big US networks, a few others in other countries) have a different identifier number, MEID if I recall the acronym correctly, which is used for similar purposes (except it's also a bit like the SIM identifier, the IMSI, in that it's used to associate the phone to a phone number as well as identifying the handset, since CDMA networks don't use SIMs).
    The GSM Association maintains a database of these things. This page provides a brief description of who has access to it. What the carrier has that the GSMA doesn't is that they can associate an IMEI with an individual (the account holder).

    Is it likely that the carrier would sell or report that information to a third party other than the authorities? I'd say in any country where the rule of law is the norm, it's very unlikely: if it comes out that they've been doing it then not only would I expect there to be legal penalties but it could cost them a lot of subscribers. One can never completely rule out a corrupt individual in a place of trust, but that's true in any organisation you have to deal with.
     
    #7 Hadron, Sep 12, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2016
  8. Bg260

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  9. louis2008

    louis2008 Well-Known Member
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    Hi, very detailed and clear help.

    Hi, as you said IMEI could be used to blacklist a handset in case it's stolen. Does it mean that I should remember my IMEI code or write it down somewhere else, in case my headset is stolen I will then provide the IMEI to the carrier?

    But in that case how to prove to the carrier that my phone is actually stolen instead of mischief?

    The last question: When buying and using second-handed mobile device, (I have a plan on that), what are the possible risks? In
    addition to factory reset the whole device, anything I should do to the
    phone?

    btw, does "factory reset" clear everything , everything piece of dirt hidden anywhere in the phone?

    Thanks again!!
     
  10. Slug

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    That is the sensible option. The original retailer should be able to provide it on request but it's easier (and quicker) if you have it to hand.

    What "mischief"? Carriers will only block handsets if they are satisfied that the person reporting the loss is the bona fide owner/user.
     
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