The recent Mumbai terrorist attacks have left the entire world stunned. Terrorists are now improving their skills so that they are able to beat the known skills of the law enforcement agencies all over the world. They are regularly using the Internet to obtain operational intelligence information like using Google Earth and Google Maps for geographical and location-spotting and planning. They are using difficult-to-trace Skype and voice over IP servers to communicate. They have also started eying BlackBerries so that e-mail and chats on-the-move are possible.
During the Bali bombing investigations, it was found that terrorists exploited prepaid SIM cards to evade surveillance and detection. In the 2004 Madrid train attacks, mobile phones had been used to detonate the bombs.
Since 2005, it has become mandatory for people living in Singapore to present their relevant original identity documents (ID) when they are buying a new SIM card. The retail shop sales staff scans your ID using the Terminal Device (TD). The TD will electronically capture relevant data into the electronic registration system.
The registration can proceed only if you are eligible to subscribe to the prepaid SIM card, i.e. you have not exceeded the limit of 10 prepaid SIM cards, and that you are 15 years old or older. The move is part of an ongoing and holistic security review carried out by the Singapore government to address security gaps. The same has been carried out throughout the world.
But in spite of all these measures, there are still vendors who sell prepaid phone cards pre-registered with the particulars of someone the buyer doesn't know. Of course the authorities are taking measures to close down this loophole.
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The best laid high-tech solutions are sometimes given a low blow by its low-tech failures. The continued watch against threats must involve all parties because the price of failure may be too heavy a cost to bear.