Ubuntu: Is it possible to change the IMEI?



Question:

I'm wondering if there is anything like macchanger or what commands/configuration we can use to change/spoof the IMEI on touch phones.


Solution:1

It's possible to loose your IMEI on Android phones and Ubuntu phones are not much different (1, 2), but how did you come up with the idea that changing your IMEI or MAC will result in any kind of increased privacy?

Changing your IMEI to that of another user or an invalid one may actually make your phone look more suspicious and may even lower your privacy, get you blacklisted by the operator or subject to investigation by law enforcement. You are underrating what ever entity you are trying to hide from or are concerned about (1, 2). Modifying some technical thing that you probably don't really understand what it's for and how it's actually being used doesn't change the fact that you are trying to use a product intended to be most useful to you if it knows as much about you as possible.

You should also have realized that your phone connects to a network that someone else operates and that you have no control over. You are just a participant. Even though the device is running Ubuntu it also runs closed source software called the baseband or radio image on Android (1, 2) which is responsible for communicating to the network. There is no way in this model to establish trust from the user perspective and therefore no reasonable expectation of privacy for a user when connecting to and communicating in mobile networks. Changing the IMEI won't change anything.

Using strong encryption while it is legal or available (1, 2, 3) may make it more difficult for a certain period of time but not impossible of being eavesdropped (1, 2).

If you didn't get the news: There are several agencies from a wide variety of countries working together analyzing every user of every network with all the solutions they currently have at their disposal or they just store the data for later. If spying on citizens is illegal in your country, no problem another countries' agency is stupid willing enough to help out and bypass laws. That's what you should have learned by following the news in the last few years, but there is still more to come.


Disclosure:

  • I'm not a Ubuntu phone developer or maintainer
  • I'm not a Ubuntu customer representative
  • I'm not a security researcher nor do I work for a mobile carrier or other network operator


Solution:2

It seems currently it's not possible to change/randomize the IMEI on ubuntu. It's worth to note that there are several tools on android that allow that and more (e.g. MEID)


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