Tags: department of homeland security | cell phone communications | white house stingrays

Experts Call for New Rules Over Possible Interception of WH Phone Calls

Experts Call for New Rules Over Possible Interception of WH Phone Calls

By    |   Tuesday, 12 June 2018 10:05 AM

The Department of Homeland Security revealed last week that it had found evidence of devices used to track cell phone communications being used near the White House, prompting security experts to call for new regulations on the sale of "stingrays," as the devices are known.

According to DHS official Christopher Krebs, who wrote about the issue in a letter to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., in May, the department found evidence that International Mobile Subscriber Identity catcher technology had been used near the White House between January and November 2017.

"The news of a possible foreign stingray near the White House is of particular concern [given] reports that the President isn't even using a secure phone to protect his calls," Wyden said in a statement.

"The cavalier attitude toward our national security appears to be coming from the top down," he added. "It is high time for the FCC and this administration to act immediately to protect American national security."

Nathan Freed Wessler, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, told The Washington Examiner that "the typical uses people in the U.S. have been focused on have been uses by domestic law enforcement agencies just to track and locate cellphones."

However, "there absolutely are types of IMSI catchers that can intercept the content of communications — listen in on the contents of phone calls, or intercept text messages, or watch data connections in transit. There is even the capability with some types of this technology to surreptitiously install malware."

Although the sale of IMSI catchers or stingrays is restricted in the U.S., such devices are available to purchase overseas. A basic model device made by German company PKI costs $1,800 on Alibaba and ships from mainland China.

"The reason we’re even having this conversation is the FCC hasn’t forced phone companies to harden the security of their networks," Wessler added. "There’s a policy and regulatory side to this. At the end of the day, it’s not just the president’s phone calls that are susceptible to eavesdropping. Potentially, it’s anyone who’s using the cellphone network."

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The Department of Homeland Security revealed last week that it had found evidence of devices used to track cell phone communications being used near the White House, prompting security experts to call for new regulations.
department of homeland security, cell phone communications, white house stingrays
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2018-05-12
Tuesday, 12 June 2018 10:05 AM
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