Tags: fake | cell | towers | interceptors

Fake Cell Towers Sprinkled Across US Could Be Intercepting Calls, Texts

By    |   Thursday, 04 Sep 2014 08:36 AM

Fake cell towers sprinkled across the country could be picking up your cellphone calls, listening into conversations, reading texts, and dropping spyware onto devices, according to a new report published in Popular Science this week.

Using his company's Android-based CryptoPhone 500, Les Goldsmith — chief executive officer of defense and law enforcement technology firm ESD America — discovered 17 fake cell towers he called "interceptors" all over the country, the industry magazine reported.

Interceptors, according to Popular Science, are radio-equipped computers with software that can use arcane cellular network protocols and beat the onboard encryption. Goldsmith said that once the phone connects with the interceptor, a variety of "over-the-air" attacks are possible, from eavesdropping on calls and texts to downloading spyware.

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"Interceptor use in the U.S. is much higher than people had anticipated," he said. "One of our customers took a road trip from Florida to North Carolina and he found eight different interceptors on that trip. We even found one at South Point Casino in Las Vegas."

Who exactly is operating the fake towers is still a mystery, Goldsmith said. It's not the National Security Agency, which — as we know — can go straight to a cellular provider to Big Brother cell service.

"What we find suspicious is that a lot of these interceptors are right on top of U.S. military bases," Goldsmith told Popular Science. "So we begin to wonder — are some of them U.S. government interceptors? Or are some of them Chinese interceptors? Whose interceptor is it? Who are they, that are listening to calls around military bases? Is it just the U.S. military, or are they foreign governments doing it? The point is: we don't really know whose they are."

Darlene Storm, of ComputerWorld, wrote this week that privacy groups have spent years fighting such weaknesses like fake cell towers, which are generally cobbled under the generic term of "stingray" devices in the surveillance world.

"While the FCC seems to have known about cellular network vulnerabilities that stingrays exploit, last month it established a 'task force' to investigate the 'illicit and unauthorized use' use of stingrays," Storm wrote. "Instead of investigating law enforcement's use of such interceptors, the FCC 'plans to study the extent to which criminal gangs and foreign intelligence services are using the devices against Americans.' The FCC also refused the ACLU's FOIA request for stingray documents."

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Fake cell towers sprinkled across the country could be picking up your cellphone calls, listening into conversations, reading texts, and dropping spyware onto devices, according to a new report published in Popular Science this week.
fake, cell, towers, interceptors
417
2014-36-04
Thursday, 04 Sep 2014 08:36 AM
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