Hackers Bidding 5 Figures for Old Phone Raises Eyebrows

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 21, 2009 3:05 PM CDT
A new Nokia handset is demonstrated at a Nokia conference in New York..   (AP Photo)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – Phonemaker Nokia is flummoxed as to why hackers are offering more than $32,000 in underground forums for old handsets, NetworkWorld reports—though bank fraud is a distinct possibility. “We have not identified any phone software problem that would allow” misuse, the company said. But a 2003 model manufactured at a certain plant in Germany can be used to intercept secure online banking codes—and voilà! Free money.

European banks have turned to timed, one-time use authorization numbers texted to mobile phones. “It thus has no value for a fraudster,” one bank said. Except that Nokia’s phone can apparently be programmed to impersonate another and intercept the information. Black-market prices aside, Nokia isn’t buying it. The company says the unique SIM card, not the phone, controls the number; without it, the handset is useless.