The Nokia 1100 is a nondescript cell phone first released in 2003. At its peak, the monochrome candybar phone sold for around $150. Now hackers are reportedly paying $32,000 for models built in a particular Nokia factory in Germany. Why? The devices can be spoofed to receive calls and texts from other numbers, which means they can be used to make fraudulent phone-based bank transfers.
The weakness lies in a popular method of European banking. In order to facilitate money transfers online, some banks will send text messages with pin numbers to customer’s phone; entering the pin on the bank’s Web site allows the transaction to execute. But if a fraudster can intercept a customer’s texts, he can run the transfer process by proxy.
Experts don’t know exactly how the hack is done, but Nokia denies any flaws in its software or design. The 1100 is the world’s best selling mobile phone to date, with over 200 million units shipped–but it’s not known how many of those were made in the German factory that produced the much-desired spoofable version.