So is this technically possible? Basically can the service provider somehow hack into my phone and use the microphone to hear the surrounding of my phone if they somehow have a backdoor/malicious code on the sim card they gave me?

And if this is even possible to do with a SIM card, does iPhone have a protection against such an attack? (malicious service provider/SIM card)

I know this is not something that service providers in countries like U.S would do(probably), but in a country like China I would assume there might be a slight chance of this happening, so I was wondering if its possible or not and does iPhone protect against it?

  • I don't think the provider need to get access to the phone. He got already all your SMS and calls because he is your carrier. The calls are not encrypted. And yes it's possible that someone hacks onto your phone and switch the microphone or the cam on. – CDRohling Feb 25 '19 at 19:30
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  • A nitpick @CDRohling, but cellular voice calls usually are encrypted... but only between the phone and the tower (so the mobile operator could still eavesdrop). Also, the encryption is kind of garbage (3G is probably OK, and I'm not sure if Voice over LTE encryption has been cracked at all yet, but cell phones frequently fall back to older protocols for voice traffic). – CBHacking Feb 26 '19 at 1:36
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    Are you only worried about mobile operators (MOs) compromising a trusted device through the SIM card or the cellular network, or are you also worried about phones that come pre-loaded with MO-specific spyware? What about spyware in MO-specific apps? Both of the latter are higher risks; while I don't know about iPhones specifically here, MOs usually have some ability to configure a smartphone on their network, and access to relatively-privileged functionality in their apps or built-in services (for devices bought through the MO). – CBHacking Feb 26 '19 at 1:42
  • @CBHacking I remember that some years ago MOs used to change settings on phones, when you requested for example to have it configured properly for internet navigation, through "configuration SMS", not sure if they required installed software for that or there was some protocol giving them such permissions. – Eärendil Baggins Feb 26 '19 at 6:37

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