Reports that obsolete Nokia 1100 handsets are being sold for â‚¬25,000 ($32,787) to criminal gangs has promoted fears that they could be easily modified to hack into mobile banking services.
One observer claims the antiquated phone can be cloned and used to intercept SMSs with individual bank codes, which are used in conjunction with stolen bank details to access accounts in Europe.
Ultrascan Research Services, a firm that gathers information on such subjects as online fraud, said police contacted the company about six months ago to see if they knew why the phones were in demand. Since then, Ultrascan has seen the price for the Nokia 1100 rise from around â‚¬5,000 to the latest figure.
However, to be of interest to the hackers, the Nokia 1100, which was originally sold for around â‚¬100 in 2003, has to have been made in Nokia\'s Bochum factory (which has since closed), and apparently contains software vulnerable to tampering.
According to Frank Engelsman of Ultrascan, it appeared a known Russian and Moroccan cybercrime gang, as well as other Romanian criminals, were trying to obtain the Nokia 1100 with the vulnerable software.
In an attempt to calm the situation, Nokia said it doesn\'t know of an 1100 software problem that would allow call spoofing. The company said a phone\'s SIM card has security mechanisms separate from the phone itself. "We have not identified any phone software problem that would allow the alleged use cases," said the company.