A SIM card, also known as a subscriber identity module, is a smart card that stores data for GSM cellular telephone subscribers. Such data includes user identity, location and phone number, network authorization data, personal security keys, contact lists and stored text messages. Security features include authentication and encryption to protect data and prevent eavesdropping.
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A SIM card and can be switched easily from one phone set to another. The portability of data offers a number of benefits. For example, a user that buys a new phone can install the current SIM card to associate the new phone with the same number and user preferences as the old one. In another common situation, if a phone's battery runs out of power, the user can easily install the card to another subscriber's phone to borrow it without running up that user's minutes. Some vendors offer prepaid SIM cards that can provide travelers with local numbers, as long as their cell phones are not locked to a specific carrier.
A device called a SIM card reader can be used to upload data from a SIM card to a computer or other device.