Fake Cell-Towers - August-September, 2014

A recent report by Les Goldsmith, the CEO of ESD America – the marketer of the CryptoPhone 500 -- in Popular Science states that 17 different phony cell-towers, or “interceptors,” were discovered by the CryptoPhone 500 in the U.S. in July.  Interceptors, described in a recent article as “radio-equipped computers with software that can use arcane cellular network protocols and defeat the onboard encryption,” can connect with a phone and then eavesdrop on calls and texts, and even push spyware onto the device.

Mr. Goldsmith said it is not known who is running the interceptors, but he noted that most found were in close proximity to military bases.  He conducted a test by driving near a military base while equipped with the CryptoPhone 500, a Samsung Galaxy S4, and an iPhone.  He said that while nothing showed wrong on the Apple and Android devices, the CryptoPhone alerted that “the phone’s encryption had been turned off, and that the cell tower had no name – a telltale sign of a rogue base station.  Standard towers, run by say, Verizon or T-Mobile, will have a name, whereas interceptors often do not.”  The interceptor forced the phone down to 2G from 4G; 2G is an older protocol, the article noted, easier to decrypt.  Neither the Apple nor the Android device revealed the attack, Goldsmith said, and he added that a “decent interceptor … [will] be set up to show you [falsely] that you're still on 4G.  You'll think that you're on 4G, but you're actually being forced back to 2G.”

A basic, do-it-yourself interceptor can be created for less than $3,000.00.  In August, 2014, the FCC announced an investigation into the use of interceptors by foreign intelligence and criminal gangs against Americans.

Sources:  Andrew Rosenblum, “Mysterious Phony Cell Towers Could Be Intercepting Your Calls,“ popsci.com, August 27, 2014: http://www.popsci.com/article/technology/mysteriousphonycell-towers-could-be-intercepting-your-calls; Craig Timberg, “Feds to study illegal use of spy gear,” washingtonpost.com, August 11, 2014: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/theswitch/wp/2014/08/11/feds-to-study-illegal-use-of-spy-gear/

New Technology May Help Police Find
Text-while-driving Violators

A device under development by ComSonics, in Virginia, will allow police to use a directed sensor, analogous to a radar-device, to discover if a person is texting.  The device focuses on the particular radio frequencies phones in use while texting, which differs from the frequencies used for voice-calls and data transmission.

Sources:  http://www.dailydot.com/technology/textingwhile-driving-gun/utm_source=outbrain&utm_medium=ppc&utm_campaign=3monthshttp://www.comsonics.com/

by Neil Leithauser
Associate Editor