A five-month-long investigation by the cybercrime cell unit of Meerut Police uncovered a security breach where more than 13,500 phones manufactured by Vivo were found to be running on the same International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number.
The IMEI number is a 15-digit code that is unique to every smartphone. In 2017, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) issued a notification stating that all smartphones would have a unique IMEI number, failure to which in the form of manipulation or tampering could lead to a three-year jail.
According to a report by PTI, the Meerut police has filed a case against the Chinese manufacturer and its service centre.
The lapse reportedly came to light when a sub-inspector gave his mobile phone to the staff at cybercrime cell for examination, as the phone was not working properly despite being repaired at a Vivo service centre in Meerut. The cyber cell found that the IMEI number of the device is different than the one printed on the box. We’ve contacted Vivo India about the whole controversy but have yet to hear back as of this writing.
As per a report by Live Hindustan, on January 16, 2020, the service centre manager said that the IMEI number had not been changed. The cyber cell then forwarded the IMEI number to the SIM operator used in the handset and asked for the relevant data.
The telecom operator informed that as of September 24, 2019, the same IMEI number has been running on 13,557 mobile phones in different states of the country. The Meerut police reportedly handed a notice to Vivo India’s nodal officer Harmanjit Singh under Section 91 of the CrPC.
Meerut SP Akhilesh N Singh said that it is a serious security issue and criminals can use it to their advantage, PTI reported. Prima facie, it appears to be the result of negligence on part of the mobile phone company, Singh added.
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