Impostor Cell Phone Towers are This Week's Scariest Technology

Impostor Cell Phone Towers are This Week's Scariest Technology

Hacker Cell Tower 310x

19 towers have been identified so far, and that number is expected to rise.

Much of the chatter around hacked phones, cloud storage, and the like gravitates toward celebrity photos -- and with good reason, as it's an appalling invasion of privacy -- but this week's other other phone hack news is much, much more scary.

Popular Science has a report founded on information from ESD America, a tech firm that specializes in high-security smartphones. The firm, founded by Les Goldsmith, says it's found a number of "interceptor" cell towers right here in the United States. This is hardware designed to snatch calls and data out of the air before it goes to its intended destination (a cell tower operated by Verizon, AT&T, etc.)

What's even more troubling than the hardware, which can filter data on 2G, 3G, and even 4G networks? No one is entirely sure who's operating and monitoring the devices.

ESD America uncovered the towers when testing the CryptoPhone 500 platform, which uses off-the-shelf hardware (like a Samsung Galaxy phone) with a heavily secured version of Android. ESD also says some of its customers uncovered towers on their own, then showing the data to the tech firm.

Some of these towers have been located in close proximity to US military bases. This could be potentially good, like the military monitoring ground close to its operations in case some sort of attack is imminent. Or it could be bad, be it some military hot head abusing his/her power, or a foreign element (like a hacker, terrorist, etc.) trying to gain access to sensitive information.

I have a hard time believing that the military would allow such hardware near an installation unless it was in direct control of such hardware. Regardless, such hardware out in the wild -- and you know these 19 points are just the tip of the sword -- is indeed troubling. This same lack of chatter applies to telecoms as well -- wouldn't they have something to say if they found rogue cell towers in the U.S.? Surely they have the means to monitor such traffic.

NSA? Military? Some wealthy hacker network pulling down selfies? Hopefully we find out the truth soon enough.

Source: Popular Science

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I think it's fairly plausible the military installed and operate these towers. Considering the proximity, I can't imagine they never noticed them before now.

Huh, was just thinking about our technological growth making it easier to expose scumbags for who they are.

...was washing the car and my mind went wandering

I never really utilize my cellphone for sensitive info at any rate, always assuming that SOMEONE could listen on on my calls (with enough work), and I am too lazy/cheap to pay for a data plan on my phone anyways...

Still, this doesn't surprise me...for all that SOMETHING should be done about it. Perhaps this should be regulated by the corporations that carve out their reception zones (eg: Time Warner and AT&T have restricted zones for their lines, and others cannot poach clients within these zones, perhaps they should police these areas).

The land of the free. Now with more freedom than ever! Come to America and get some freedom. Freedom for everybody. They have so much freedom you wouldn't believe it.

It's been a decade since the US military got really paranoid (rightfully) about cellphone detonated IEDs and cellphone wielding enemy spotters. Is it remotely surprising that they would want to be able to hijack signals at a moments notice?

I don't know why anyone is under the impression that their data is secure. Most people don't even bother to keep up with the security updates.

I'm actually shocked at how FEW have been found. Only 13 or so? My guess is there are hundreds of the damned things. And its obviously either the NSA, the Military or Google. Gathering the data is one thing, but they need to be able to store it, process it and filter it, and eventually come up with predictive models based on the data. There aren't many organizations that can do that.
Google, NSA, or Military. Nothing else is plausible.

Oh hey, look at all the cellphones I don't have or anything the government would even want from me even if I did. Seriously, it's like the NSA monitering the net. They're going to get largely garbage-talk of no importance at all.

Captcha: have purpose

Yes, but is it even worth it?

They are not towers. They are cells. It's been known for a long time that commercially available femto and pico cells can be modified to eavesdrop on mobile phone users. This is just one of the first times a baseband hack has been observed in the wild.

yay this is so scary and cool at the same time. It sounds to me like the plot of a X-Files episode or something :D
Although i cant help but think that its just the government doing some monitoring since there is no way anyone can get away with 19 of these puppies not to mention.....a public company and civilians discovered them aswell.

My guess would be the NSA. If the military put them up they'd just say so I imagine but the NSA monitoring the military and its bases for terrorists/corruption is more then plausible. I mean if I'm gonna be a terrorist I would join the US military and maybe make sure a few stingers or something go missing. Russians have a problem with quartermasters selling off some of their equipment to the black market why shouldn't the US worry about the same thing.

EDIT: If it does turn out to be the NSA suddenly the NSA stops being the mundane brother of the CIA and becomes WH40k Inquisition to me.

Scorpid:
My guess would be the NSA. If the military put them up they'd just say so I imagine but the NSA monitoring the military and its bases for terrorists/corruption is more then plausible. I mean if I'm gonna be a terrorist I would join the US military and maybe make sure a few stingers or something go missing. Russians have a problem with quartermasters selling off some of their equipment to the black market why shouldn't the US worry about the same thing.

EDIT: If it does turn out to be the NSA suddenly the NSA stops being the mundane brother of the CIA and becomes WH40k Inquisition to me.

This just in, congress approved measure to grant NSA limited federal authority over armed response units for them to preemptively counter nationwide cyber-terrorist threats when deemed prudent, more at 11.

 

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