Stolen phone & SIM locking

A rather disturbing incident involving a stolen phone and credit cards and the ability of a fraudster/thief being able to reset a user’s password/pass-number for a high-street bank occurred in September involving a journalist called Charlotte Morgan. She described what happened to her (and it transpired others) when her phone and credit cards were stolen from a locker in her local gym.

The incident was covered by the BBC and and also in the papers.

The incident was described by the FT Adviser in two reports – firstly the incident, and then (belatedly) Santander’s response.

Charlotte chose to broadcast her experiences on twitter and got a range of helpful and supportive pieces of advice.

So we start with the first piece of advice – keep your phone and your credit cards separate. Don’t store/keep them in the same place. Maybe, if you follow the advice that follows later you should just keep the credit card details only on your phone and dispense with using plastic. For Apple that involves storing the card information in your Wallet.

And this is the security loophole that the thief was exploiting. The default setting when you get your new phone, and insert the SIM is to leave the SIM unlocked. This means that the SIM can be taken out of the phone with your network details (and more), and inserted into another phone. Not really what you want, is it? So, lock the SIM to your phone, and by doing that, if the SIM is taken out – it is of no use in another phone. You will need to remember the new PIN you create which you will have to supply when you power-up your phone, or when you change it for a new/replacement. This is obviously an important piece of information to remember!!! There is no way of recovering the SIM PIN if you forget it!!!

So what actually happened. This thread explains it well …

So what do you do? On an iPhone or Android …..

But what are the default SIM PINs that network operators use?

This link will be useful as it lists the default SIM PINs for the major network operators. These are the ones you need to change to your own personally chosen PIN.

It really is quite important. Change your SIM PIN and keep your credit cards separate from your phone.

Switch-off of analogue PSTN

This article will record the progress of the planned switch-off of the analogue PSTN (public switched telephone network) by 2025, and its implications to all of our generation, as Openreach moves to implement a fully digital service. The issue was brought to the attention of the Cardiff u3a Computer Group by Jenny Sims, a group member, who has a number of roles including being Chair of the National Pensioners Convention (NPC) Digital Working party and an NPC Executive Member.

It’s an article that will change over the next few months and years, so please look back for updates and further information as we become aware of issues, problems and hopefully solutions.

What implications might this have for older people?

  • Digital services are not universally good across rural areas
  • There will need to be a solution to the issue of digital services requiring power – what happens if there’s a break in power supply, this has been highlighted recently after the storms brought down power lines in Scotland and NE England
  • Cell telephony doesn’t provide a 100% coverage as a backup to digital services

What implications might this have for people with certain disabilities?

  • It’s been reported to us that certain people with visual problems have been experiencing difficulties in the Salisbury pilot area with the withdrawal of the 1471 service, with call-back not working, and with needing to install a new phone number

A video showing the opportunities and issues for Telecare

Here’s a link to the Progress Openreach has reported by January 2022. Much of this is very technical, so some of the following information might be more readable.

Here’s a briefing from BT on the project; and an update on what’s happening in Wales forwarded to Jenny in her role sitting on the National Pensioners Convention. Which? have also published a briefing on the subject which I encourage you all to look at. 

Some additional references

Switchover from analogue to digital telephony: UK consumer and micro-business reactions

The UK’s PSTN network will switch off in 2025 – BT Business

Internet revamp for the humble landline – BBC News

OpenReach PSTN Switchover – a technical presentation

Jenny has also written the article below, which will hopefully appear in the latest Cardiff u3a magazine …


Ring, ring: Ready for the big ‘phone switchover?

Only three years until 2025 when all telephone providers will do the big “switchover” moving landline customers from the country’s traditional telephone network to digital technologies and analogue services are finally shut down. 

Though BT published a timescale back in 2019, many older people’s organisations have expressed concern that the public have not been given enough information about the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) moving to Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP), what it really means and how it could adversely affect older and vulnerable people.

Among them is the National Pensioners Convention (NPC), which represents 1.5 million members in Wales, England and Northern Ireland. 

Among the big questions is what happens if there’s a break in power supplies and people need to access emergency services – because the new system will run off broadband – and handsets will have to be plugged into an electricity socket.

Providers say solutions will be found – which will include the provision of emergency battery-powered backups for phones and routers.

This scenario became a reality last November when Storm Arwen hit the UK, causing widespread power outages and left 9,000 homes without power for more than a week.

Jan Shortt, NPC General Secretary did interviews with Talk Radio and other stations, and heard from affected listeners.

She said: “They raised the issue of not being able to charge mobile phones and other devices and therefore not able to summon help. It is clear that the majority of the population had not heard of the digital switch.”

In January Ofcom held an online public meeting to give an update on the “switchover” rollout throughout the UK and provide an opportunity to ask questions.

Jeff Richards, an NPC Wales executive member and a retired Swansea BT engineer, attended. He said: “Unfortunately they did not answer any questions that I raised regarding vulnerable customers nor anything on power supply. I felt that my questions were merely swatted away.”

BT have agreed to meet the NPC to address their concerns – which include, who will pay for the battery packs (some around £160) – the customer or provider?

Virgin Media has already promised that vulnerable customers with “accessibility needs or don’t have a mobile phone” will be given an emergency backup line at no extra cost.

Unsurprisingly, customers in various areas have reported teething problems as the system is being rolled out. For example, people in the Salisbury pilot area with visual problems have experienced difficulties with the withdrawal of the 1471 service and the need to get new phone numbers. 

Hopefully, in the three years left of the rollout, teething problems will have been sorted. But be prepared: only an estimated 1.5million out of 29million landlines have so far been converted – and one day those old phones will stop ringing!

For further information:

Jenny Sims is a Cardiff U3A Computer Group Member, Chair, NPC’s Digital Working Party and an NPC Wales Executive Member

Spring-clean your minds!

Well, Christmas lethargy has almost passed. One hopes the cold and snow has gone for this year too. Now’s the time for a little spring-cleaning! That’s what we’re doing in our house at the moment and it occurred to me that’s what needed with our minds sometimes. We carry around so many thoughts and ideas that it’s difficult to focus on what is actually the most important. What is it that actually needs to get done? What is it that needs to be written on our blogs, or what that we have written needs to be posted.

An excellent example of latent thinking and writing surfaced over the weekend in Kelly Page‘s “Social ways of working in Higher Education“. In a tweet, Kelly mentioned that she’d written this post a year ago but hadn’t been sure whether to post it, or not. How often is that so true. How many other ideas and thoughts are getting cobwebs collecting around them that are crying out to see the light of day. How many others just need to be swept away, to allow others to emerge and grow?

So that’s the theme of the next Thought grazing Social Media Cafe (#tgsmc) to be held on Wednesday afternoon, 29th February, from 2.00pm at Costa Coffee in Park Place. Come and do a bit of thought spring cleaning as well as have a good chat and cup of coffee (and a cake), or two.

Social media cafe launches at Cardiff University

Back in Victorian times all the best plans and projects were hatched in the coffee shop where thoughts were exchanged between philosophers and practitioners from many disciplines and backgrounds. The world of social media is great for making connections and for replicating this cross-fertilisation of ideas; it fosters the creation of networks and allows the early discussion of ideas and enables the hatching of plans, but it lacks the obvious benefits of face-to-face contact and also the possibilities for animated, coffee-fueled group discussion.

Informal conversation is where engagement starts. Coffee (or a similar beverage) is what relaxes you (or stimulates you) to start that conversation. Put the two together and you have a winning formula.

Go to the Cardiff menu tab for further information and for short reports of events.