Spies are using people’s cell phones to locate them and eavesdrop on their calls and texts, The Washington Post is reporting.
The Department of Homeland Security, in a letter to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore, said it had received reports that "nefarious actors may have exploited" global cellular networks "to target the communications of American citizens."
The letter, obtained by the newspaper, went on to detail surveillance systems that tap into a global messaging system called SS7. The messaging system lets cellular customers to move from network to network as they travel.
According to the Post, the system, officially named Signaling System 7, has little security and is vulnerable for intelligence agencies and criminal gangs to spy on people using nothing more than cellphone numbers.
It was created in the 1970s and allows users to move from network to network without missing calls or making payments to each carrier that routed a signal to their phones, the Post reported.
"I don’t think most Americans realize how insecure U.S. telephone networks are," Wyden said. "If more consumers knew how easy it is for bad guys to track or hack their mobile phones, they would demand the FCC and wireless companies do something about it. These aren’t just hypotheticals."
And he revealed a major cellular carried has already referred an "SS7 breach" involving customer data to federal law enforcement.
The newspaper noted American, Chinese, Israeli and Russian intelligence agencies use the SS7 surveillance the most. In addition, criminals and private providers of business intelligence are also using the technology.
Wyden criticized the Federal Communications Committing and claimed it had "failed to address this ongoing threat to national security." The FCC declined to comment, according to the newspaper.
Just a year ago, Rep. Ted Lieu had blasted President Donald Trump for reportedly asking world leaders to call him directly on his cell phone.
"This is very stupid," Lieu said in a tweet to Trump. "Foreign intel can monitor cell conversations using SS7 flaw. Look it up."
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