Rogue cell towers discovered in Washington, D.C. | CSO Online

A simple drive with a CryptoPhone reveals fifteen new rogue sites, by Steve Ragan

Towards the end of July, ESD America, the makers of the ultra-secure CryptoPhone, said that their engineers and customers had discovered more than a dozen rogue cell towers (also known as interceptors or IMSI catchers) around the U.S.

New information shows that the discovered towers might only represent a small fraction of the whole, and what’s been discovered doesn’t account for the mobile base stations that are only active on a limited basis.

Interceptors are a huge risk if used by a malicious actor. That’s because once a device connects to them, the interceptor’s operator can perform a number of tasks, including eavesdrop on calls or text messages, or in some cases push data (spyware for example) to the device. This is why they’re only supposed to be used by law enforcement or the government.

However, that doesn’t mean that the government or law enforcement haven’t found themselves in the hot seat for abusing an interceptor’s functionality. The potential for abuse and wide availability of the technology, including home-grown versions that work just as well as their commercial counterparts, means that the existence of unknown interceptors are a major concern. Continue reading

Your Cellphone Is Spying on You: How the surveillance state co-opted personal technology | Reason.com

…There are 331 million cellphone subscriptions—about 20 million more than there are residents—in the United States. Nearly 90 percent of adult Americans carry at least one phone. The phones communicate via a nationwide network of nearly 300,000 cell towers and 600,000 micro sites, which perform the same function as towers. When they are turned on, they ping these nodes once every seven seconds or so, registering their locations, usually within a radius of 150 feet. By 2018 new Federal Communications Commission regulations will require that cellphone location information be even more precise: within 50 feet. Newer cellphones also are equipped with GPS technology, which uses satellites to locate the user more precisely than tower signals can. Cellphone companies retain location data for at least a year. AT&T has information going all the way back to 2008. Continue reading

ACLU: Most police track phones’ locations without warrants – CNN.com

…. the American Civil Liberties Union shows that phone location tracking has also become a surprisingly common tool of law-enforcement investigations — with, but often without, a warrant.The ACLU recently obtained records from over 200 police departments and other law enforcement agencies around the U.S. They found that “virtually all” of these agencies track the location of cell phones with data supplied by wireless carriers… via ACLU: Most police track phones’ locations without warrants – CNN.com.