Verizon, the American multinational telecommunications conglomerate has recently won a patent, which will help to secure SIM cards. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has recently awarded this Verizon blockchain patent.
The development is important since it’s addressing a key challenge in the modern era of the mobile Internet, which is the security of SIM cards. It also shows how blockchain goes way beyond just cryptocurrencies to help the modern digital economy.
Incidents of data breaches, identity thefts, and sensitive personal information falling in the hands of cybercriminals are too common nowadays. While cybersecurity solutions are evolving to address many of these challenges, securing the SIM cards has proved challenging.
SIM card swaps are increasingly common nowadays. Hackers steal the mobile identity of mobile Internet users by convincing a carrier to switch a phone number to a SIM they own.
Cybercriminals use this to extract your personal information. Some service-providers use two-factor authentication for the services they provide, and hackers can complete these after they have done a SIM card swap. The impact can be serious for mobile Internet users.
Experts are frequently commenting on the importance of securing SIM cards. Having said that, it’s hard to secure SIM cards against increasingly powerful modes of cyber-attacks.
Given this, telecom providers are exploring technology solutions that can reduce the dependence on physical SIM cards. While virtual SIM cards might seem like an obvious solution, these can be hard to implement. Securing ownership data of virtual SIMs is crucial, and this is where blockchain can step in.
The Verizon blockchain patent: Securing virtual SIMs
Blockchain with its distributed ledger, decentralization, security features and transparency can prevent tampering of data. The new Verizon blockchain patent is a case in point.
In this patent, Verizon proposes a solution to create a virtual SIM (vSIM), moreover, the company intends to secure it with the help of blockchain and data encryption. Users can create vSIM accounts and choose to store one or more vSIMs and network services.
The proposed system will create a record on a blockchain network, which will include the vSIM certificate. The record will also include an International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI). IMSI records identify cellphone users in a mobile network.
The proposed blockchain system will link the vSIM record to user accounts, moreover, it will store time-stamped transaction records on the chain. These records will be parts of blocks on this blockchain, therefore, cryptography and blockchain consensus algorithms will protect them against tampering.
The proposed system will enable transferring a vSIM between multiple devices owned by a user. Users can also temporarily transfer a vSIM to other users with the help of this system.
Verizon envisages a vSIM platform in the longer run. Such a platform will have a repository of vSIMs, moreover, it might use application programming interfaces (APIs).
Are we about to experience the power of blockchain in the telecom sector?
While the recent Verizon blockchain patent to create virtual SIMs caters to a particular use case, telecom companies are increasingly warming up to blockchain. Will blockchain power the next wave of telecom-centred innovations? Watch this space!