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Is eSIM Safe? Your Guide to eSIM Card Security

Is eSIM safe to use? Yes it is. eSIMs aren't easier to hack than your physical SIM card. Discover how to make sure your eSIM is bulletproof.


June 10, 2024

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Using an eSIM is safe. In many ways, it is not more or less secure than a SIM card. The main reason for switching to eSIM technology from physical SIM cards is convenience, not necessarily safety. However, there are situations where eSIMs are actually a better choice. So, let’s start by explaining eSIM tech and its benefits and exploring all the critical aspects of eSIM security.

What Is an eSIM?

eSIM is short for Embedded Subscriber Identity Module. SIM, on the other hand, is short for Subscriber Identity Module. So, as you can see, the “Embedded” part is what makes eSIM different. Basically, your physical SIM card is a chip that allows you to connect to your carrier and store important information. You put your traditional SIM card in the SIM card slot and replace it with a new one if necessary. 

Unlike traditional SIM cards, eSIMs are not removable. They are embedded into your smartphone motherboard and programmed remotely with all the information necessary to use them as your regular, physical SIM card.

Set sim card evolution to esim
Source: 152493859 © Kyrylo Petrenko |

So, are eSIMs safe? Can eSIM be hacked? It may sound to some as if eSIM security may be questionable because they might be more susceptible to hacking attacks. However, that’s not really the case. Security threats are equally aimed at your traditional SIM card or eSIM.

If they are so similar, why do we need this new technology to replace the physical SIM card? eSIMs have some unique benefits, but let’s focus on security aspects.

What Are the Benefits of eSIMs?

eSIM technology brings many exciting benefits to all smartphone users. One of the biggest benefits is the convenience of use. Switching your service provider and adding new numbers, eSIMs, and profiles on the same phone is easy and seamless. Transferring everything from one phone to another is much easier than dealing with physical SIMs. 

You don’t often have to go to your carrier store when picking up your new eSIM, as you can download the necessary information to set it up online. Even in case of a device theft, if you react in time, you can block your eSIM and prevent access to it. Moreover, it will be password and PIN-protected on your stolen phone, so access is much more complicated than a physical card. 

However, now, let’s focus on the security aspects of eSIMs.

Better Physical Security

One of the biggest benefits of eSIM technology over your physical SIM is that it’s digital. In other words, eSIMs are not susceptible to wear and tear, unlike traditional SIM cards. Your removable SIM cards can be stolen or broken, and the same goes for the SIM tray in your smartphone. None of this can happen with your eSIM, which is already embedded in your smartphone. In terms of physical security, eSIMs are much safer.

iphone screen with the esim setup message
Source: ID 270873220 © Ifeelstock |

Remote SIM Management

eSIM is managed remotely by network operators. Your removable SIM cards must be physically changed or swapped by yourself or your network provider. On the other hand, your eSIM receives settings remotely, so even if you change operators, you don’t have to change your phone settings or remove your physical SIM.

Multiple eSIM Cards on One Device

You can have multiple eSIM cards on your smartphone at the same time. In most cases, you can only use one physical SIM at a time or two at most. 

Dual SIM card slot in modern smartphone
Source: ID 151658027 © Mykhailo Polenok |

Regarding eSIM technology, limitations depend on your smartphone model and mobile network operators. Different phone manufacturers produce eSIM-enabled devices with different capacities. According to their website, you can have eight or more eSIMs on your iPhone. For Samsung, this greatly depends on the model and carrier, but you can have up to 20 eSIM profiles on some Samsung devices.

Remember that installing eSIMs and using Dual SIM options are two different things. 

Futureproofing Your Smartphone

In the USA, the iPhone 15 is an eSIM-only phone. It doesn’t use a physical SIM whatsoever. Therefore, it is a matter of time before all other manufacturers follow that example and start making phones that use eSIM technology exclusively. If you implement this technology today and stay informed about eSIM security risks, you will welcome this big technology shift. The list of smartphones that support eSIM technology is long already. 

Data Privacy and Security

Given the nature of eSIM technology, it is logical that carriers will put strict security measures in place to prevent anyone from gaining access to your sensitive information. Some of the ways mobile carriers ensure your safety include implementing different measures. These cryptographic protocols include:

Authentication protocols – Service providers use these to verify the identity of devices before granting them access to mobile networks. When an eSIM tries to access services, authentication protocols ensure that security certificates or tokens are exchanged first.

Advanced encryption protocols—These protocols ensure that data transmitted is confidential and unreadable to anyone who doesn’t have the encryption key, preventing revealing sensitive information.

Secure over-the-air (OTA) updates – Since your eSIM is managed remotely, it is essential to know that OTA updates are safe. OTA updates affect your firmware, eSIM data, and even some device settings.

secure over-the-air OTA updates
Source: Canva

Is It Advisable to Use eSIM?

It is advisable to use eSIM technology. However, you must remain vigilant and set some security measures to deal with the most common eSIM security risks. In many ways, this is just another way of asking – can eSIM be hacked? So, let’s share some of the most common data theft attacks and how they relate to your eSIM. 

Is eSIM safe from SIM swapping?

eSIM is just as safe from SIM swap attacks as your regular SIM. The weak spot here is not the eSIM but the mobile network staff. What happens is – that the hackers use social engineering to learn enough information about you so they can contact the network provider and impersonate you, asking them to deactivate your current SIM and activate a new one that’s in their possession. 

In that way, they don’t have to have physical access to your phone or commit physical theft. They would simply be granted access to your calls, texts, and two-factor authentication codes. That means gaining access to sensitive data and even setting the basis for identity theft.

two-factor authentication on a smartphone
Source: Canva

Can an eSIM Be Hacked?

Theoretically, eSIM can be hacked just as likely as your SIM card. Sim swapping is the most common eSIM hack. There are others, but they are less likely and more difficult to pull off.

Man-in-the-middle attack: This type of hack means that hackers can intercept communication between the network provider and the eSIM. Compared to SIMs, this is not a higher risk. 

Cloning: This is much more likely to happen with a physical SIM than an eSIM. However, it’s worth mentioning because it’s not impossible. A hacker would have to get access to cryptographic keys to do this, and that is in no way easy.

Phishing and social engineering:  Phishing mainly involves hackers presenting themselves to credible websites where people are supposed to enter their personal data. Some common phishing attacks involve hackers impersonating banks, package delivery, or payment confirmation scams.

phishing scam attempt presenting as a government sms
Source: ID 279109000 © Wisely W |

Can an eSIM Be Tracked?

Your eSIM can be tracked just like your SIM. Your mobile network can track your location using IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identifier). If you want to prevent this, keep your location services off, block all your apps that use location, and possibly even use a VPN to mask your location. However, that means that you won’t be able to use apps that require access to where you are. Think – no Uber, Maps, or similar services.

Can an eSIM Be Cloned?

eSIM can be cloned, but in most cases, hackers would have to gain access to your phone. The most common scenario of eSIM cloning starts with phishing attacks and the user clicking on suspicious links. Once hackers access the person’s mobile account, they initiate an eSIM transfer, cloning the eSIM. This means they can have access to financial accounts and everything else that is stored on the phone and SIM. 

What Is Safer: SIM or eSIM?

Both digital and physical SIM cards are safe if you use them responsibly and take care of your cyber security. Therefore, this is not a question of SIM vs. eSIM; it is a matter of being careful or not when it comes to smartphone use.

Here are some good practices that can help you use your eSIM safely:

Use unique passwords and PINs: Do not repeat passwords or PINs across multiple accounts. This is a good prevention for brute force or credential stuffing attacks

Set two-factor authentication: Adding this extra security measure makes it increasingly difficult for hackers to access your data. 

Use VPN services: VPNs are a good way to encrypt your internet connection and protect your data from being intercepted by hackers. This is especially important when using public Wi-Fi networks.

VPN connecting on a smartphone
Source: ID 184408188 © Nikkimeel |

Not clicking on suspicious links: Suspicious links are designed to look legitimate and the websites used to gather your data are also designed to look like the “real” ones. You need to be extra careful whenever you are about to volunteer your passwords, PINs, and other sensitive information. 

Double-check where you leave your information: This is a matter of responsible internet use. Social engineering basically means that hackers are scraping the internet for the data you left on public forums, social media sites, and more. By creating a database of that information, they try to use it for gaining access to your accounts or tricking service provider staff into giving them access to your data.

Conclusion: Can eSIM Technology Be Trusted?

Yes. eSIM technology can be trusted. It is just as safe as traditional SIM technology. Moreover, we can expect eSIM safety to advance in the years to come because it is very likely that newer versions of smartphones will only be eSIM. Currently, two iPhone models support only eSIM, and you can’t use them with physical SIMs. 

Your eSIM safety depends on how responsible you are with your overall cyber security. Many phishing attacks and other hacking attempts to gain physical access to your sensitive information are due to poor security measures and not the technology itself.

FAQs About eSIM Safety

What are the disadvantages of eSIM?

The main disadvantage of eSIM technology is that it is unavailable for all devices. If your smartphone doesn’t support it, it never will. It is embedded during the manufacturing process and can’t be added later.

Can my eSIM be hacked?

Theoretically, the risk is not greater than hacking your regular SIM card. The most common attacks, like phishing or SIM swapping, have nothing to do with technology but with the responsible use of smartphones.

Is eSIM a good idea?

Yes. eSIM is a good idea because it provides convenience and is not subject to wear and tear. It is safe, and transferring from your old phone to a new one is seamless. Moreover, many of the latest smartphone models will soon be eSIM-only, so getting to know this tech sooner rather than later is advisable.

Is eSIM card safe for banking?

Yes. eSIM card is safe for banking just as much as your SIM card. If you keep your PINs and passwords unique, and take all security precautions, your eSIM is just as safe as your SIM card.