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Mysterious Fake Cellphone Towers Are Intercepting Calls All Over The US


codeorama

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http://finance.yahoo.com/news/mysterious-fake-cellphone-towers-intercepting-162645809.html

 

 

Seventeen fake cellphone towers were discovered across the U.S. last week,according to a report in Popular Science.

Rather than offering you cellphone service, the towers appear to be connecting to nearby phones, bypassing their encryption, and either tapping calls or reading texts. 

Les Goldsmith, the CEO of ESD America, used ESD's CryptoPhone 500 to detect 17 bogus cellphone towers. ESD is a leading American defense and law enforcement technology provider based in Las Vegas. 

With most phones, these fake communication towers are undetectable. But not for the CryptoPhone 500,  a customized Android device that is disguised as a Samsung Galaxy S III but has highly advanced encryption.

 

Click link at beginning of thread for rest of article.

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This story looks like a PR piece for the company selling encryption features on their cell phones. Little to no research to investigate these 'towers'.

Beat me to it. Reads like an infomercial. Though it's weird a defense/law enforcement tech company puts the govt on blast like this. Isn't that their main client?

I wonder if this has anything to do with the fact sometimes I be hearing another persons voice once in a blue moon interrupting the phone call.

On a cell phone? I remember that happening with the landline cordless phone. Don't recall it ever happening on a cell though

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This doesn't strike me as a case of our government spying on us -- they could just go to the carrier and get all the information they want (sadly).

 

I'm guessing its a foreign organization trying to spy on members of our military.

and how would this foreign organization discretely build big ol' cell towers without us noticing right outside our military bases?
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and how would this foreign organization discretely build big ol' cell towers without us noticing right outside our military bases?

 

They don't need to be discrete.  People notice a new tower, but when I see a construction crew doing tower work, I never think, "Gee I wonder if that's a foreign government building a fake tower to intercept military phone calls."  Maybe 1 in a thousand of people would even get suspicious, and even fewer would actually do something about it.

 

It seems obvious when you look at the map of the US and all of the interceptors near bases, but until many people simultaneously notice tower construction near military bases and it comes up in discussion, I don't most of us would give it a second thought.

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They don't need to be discrete.  People notice a new tower, but when I see a construction crew doing tower work, I never think, "Gee I wonder if that's a foreign government building a fake tower to intercept military phone calls."  Maybe 1 in a thousand of people would even get suspicious, and even fewer would actually do something about it.

 

It seems obvious when you look at the map of the US and all of the interceptors near bases, but until many people simultaneously notice tower construction near military bases and it comes up in discussion, I don't most of us would give it a second thought.

An ordinary citizen may pay no attention, but you think the military wouldn't notice?
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An ordinary citizen may pay no attention, but you think the military wouldn't notice?

 

 

I actually think its pretty plausible the military wouldn't have noticed. First off, the term "right on top of" the military bases is kind of loosely worded.  We have no way of knowing if its literally standing outside the fence of the base or a mile or so away.

 

Secondly, I think we assume the military is tracking alot of things that they actually aren't.  Prior to 9/11 I (and many others) always assumed that we have fighter jets on call 24/7 and they're constantly in touch with the FAA to intercept unknown aircraft entering our airspace or flights defying their planned routes. Then we all realized that wasn't the case.

 

For the military to keep tabs on rogue cell towers, they'd have to have constant knowledge of expansion plans for the various networks, and then be able to immediately identify a tower that isn't consistent with that plan. Then it would have to be part of someone's job to notice new tower construction and validate that it's legitimate on an ongoing basis.  I just doubt that relationship exists (it might start existing soon).

 

I've heard other cases of other countries using pretty innocuous things to spy on our soldiers.

 

Back in '03-'04 there was a fairly big issue that people were installing P2P sharing software on their laptops and some of those programs share your 'Downloads' directory by default.  Since IE also defaulted to that directory, a lot of classified things got out by accident.

 

I had a friend who served in Iraq and told me they had to stop using USB drives because they were all made in China and someone found some sort of software on one of them that would automatically start and share the contents if you were on a network.

 

This seems right up that same alley.

 

PS: On a side-note, I remember using one of those P2P programs in that era and seeing that someone downloaded a file called, 'Contact List.xls" from my computer.  It was my fraternity's active member contact list, but I didn't know about the Chinese-intelligence angle at the time.  In hindsight, I wonder if some spy in China momentarily thought he'd infiltrated some secret military organization that only referred to itself by some obscure Greek letters.

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I'm still wondering...

If some foreigners could put up cell phone towers without anyone noticing...

How do they actually capture our cell phone calls. Sure, they are just "out there" broadcast on specific frequencies. But they are encrypted (I'd assume), compressed, scrambled with other phone calls in full duplex manners.

Say they actually capture the raw data, how do they use it?

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Our information is captured and potentially examined by a good sized number of different companies and at least one government all the time.  Google spies so well the CIA is probably jealous.  Facebook is a marketing database they've managed to trick everyone into signing up for an keeping painstakingly up to date.  Those little bonus cards every store forces you to sign up for to avoid higher prices exist to track your buying habits.  Speaking of which your credit card monitors everything you buy with it too.  Cell phones store and transmit data on where you are and where you go.  Soon the government will change car standards to include transmission of data, which it will transmit constantly. 

 

If you don't like living in a world where you are being watched and examined to see if you are up to no good or if they could make you spend more of your money... too damn bad.  That ship has sailed friends. 

 

So coming back to these sinister cell phone towers.  If they exist they are spying on you.  If they don't exist, you're cell phone is still being used to spy on you. 

 

It's only a matter of time before your bed spies on you, and when it detects a lack of activity, viagra will send you a gift basket.   

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Our information is captured and potentially examined by a good sized number of different companies and at least one government all the time.  Google spies so well the CIA is probably jealous.  Facebook is a marketing database they've managed to trick everyone into signing up for an keeping painstakingly up to date.  Those little bonus cards every store forces you to sign up for to avoid higher prices exist to track your buying habits.  Speaking of which your credit card monitors everything you buy with it too.  Cell phones store and transmit data on where you are and where you go.  Soon the government will change car standards to include transmission of data, which it will transmit constantly. 

 

If you don't like living in a world where you are being watched and examined to see if you are up to no good or if they could make you spend more of your money... too damn bad.  That ship has sailed friends.

I know. :(
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I'm still wondering...

If some foreigners could put up cell phone towers without anyone noticing...

How do they actually capture our cell phone calls. Sure, they are just "out there" broadcast on specific frequencies. But they are encrypted (I'd assume), compressed, scrambled with other phone calls in full duplex manners.

Say they actually capture the raw data, how do they use it?

 

I don't think its that weird.  They basically set up their own telecomm service.  You connect to the tower, it shows "Verizon" (or "AT&T" or whatever else) on your screen.  You make a call in 2G and it connects you, but it doesn't charge you any roaming (basically it lets any call go through that tower for any phone that connects to it). 2G service is dirt cheap to serve but the things you can learn from it are incredibly valuable.  They essentially eat the cost but keep all the data that goes through that tower.

 

As long as you're not charging people fees for this, noone would never even notice.

 

The more I think about it, the more sense it makes (to me at least :P).  We already know the government is working with the major providers to capture all of our data, so it makes no sense to set up a rogue cell tower to intercept information.  But for a foreign government I could see it.

 

 

PS: I just reread your post-- I'm not a telecomm expert but I think the article said 2G encryption is way less advanced than LTE-- so maybe they can crack it?

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