2G shutdown on Android: why?

Xiaomi Mi Note 10

2G was one of the first mobile communications standards. Today the technology is obsolete as operators hardly use 2G networks anymore. And with that you can also disable 2G on Android. But why actually?

Google introduced a 2G kill switch in Android 12, allowing users to disable the feature on their phones. You should definitely use this, because 2G can be a target for attacks. 2G is probably as good as unsecured and can therefore be used by attackers as a gateway.

Disable 2G on Android

  1. Opens the settings
  2. Go to Network & Internet
  3. Tap on SIM
  4. Disable "Allow 2G".

Why you should deactivate 2G

If 2G is largely obsolete, why bother disabling it? The reason is that while 2G was great in its time, it was imperfect and full of vulnerabilities. An example is that due to the lack of authentication, hackers can create fake 2G cell towers for devices to connect to and intercept their communications.

Even though our phone modems are designed to support 4G/5G, they can still connect to 2G. This means that if cell service is poor, the phone could still try to find 2G networks even if there aren't any, and hackers could take advantage of that.

However, keep in mind that disabling 2G can also mean that emergency services can no longer be accessed in regions where only 2G is available. Google says that emergency calls via 2G are still possible and SMS are still arriving. However, some problems seem to occur when sending SMS after 2G deactivation.

Many Android smartphones allow you to disable 2G using the method above, but many devices do not. You should also consider that and don't be surprised if you can't deactivate 2G according to the instructions mentioned.

Sources):
EFF

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