Mysterious Phony Cell Towers Could Be Intercepting Your Calls2014-09-05 10:01 by Daniela
Tags: cell towers, phone, eavesdropping
More than a dozen "fake cell phone towers" could be secretly hijacking Americans' mobile devices in order to listen in on phone calls or snoop on text messages, the security-focused cell phone company ESD claims.
Les Goldsmith, the CEO of ESD America, used ESD's CryptoPhone 500 to detect 17 bogus cellphone towers, as with most regular phones, these fake communication towers are undetectable. The CryptoPhone 500 is a customized Android device that is disguised as a Samsung Galaxy S III but has highly advanced encryption. It is not clear who controls the devices.
"Interceptor use in the U.S. is much higher than people had anticipated," Mr. Goldsmith said. He told Popular Science, "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." He added, "What we find suspicious is that a lot of these interceptors are right on top of U.S. military bases. Whose interceptor is it? Who are they, that's listening to calls around military bases? The point is: we don't really know whose they are."
ComputerWorld points out that the fake towers give themselves away by crushing down the performance of your phone from 4G to 2G while the intercept is taking place. So if users notice that their phone is operating on a slow download signal while they're near a military base ... maybe they should make that call from somewhere else.
And as Edward Snowden revealed in May, the NSA can 'listen in' on conversations even when mobiles are turned off by using these towers. So, for the regular user, the only fool-proof option left to avoid eavesdroppers is taking the battery out.
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