Mysterious hacking cell towers

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This is intriguing: A secure cell phone maker has uncovered 17 cell towers designed to attack cell phones that have no known owner, all located close to military bases.

The highly self-monitored phone does more than protect itself; according to Popular Science, it found 17 different phony cell towers known as “interceptors,” detected by the CryptoPhone 500 around the United States during the month of July. Interceptors are described to look to a typical phone like an ordinary tower, but once a phone connects with the interceptor, a variety of over-the-air attacks become possible, such as eavesdropping on calls and texts to pushing spyware to the device.

ESD America CEO Less Goldsmith found it suspicious that a lot of these interceptors are right on top of U.S. military bases. “So we begin to wonder – are some of them U.S. government interceptors? Or are some of them Chinese interceptors?” Goldsmith told Popular Science. “Whose interceptor is it? Who are they, that’s listening to calls around military bases? Is it just the U.S. military, or are they foreign governments doing it? The point is: we don’t really know whose they are.”


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  • mpthompson

    I had never heard of the CryptoPhone 500s before. How hard would it be to upgrade regular smart cell phones to at least post a warning when encryption of data is turned off similar to what these phones do?

    Given that these cell towers are cropping up near military bases I have to suspect that it’s more likely they are related to outside cyber attacks on the base. However, who knows. The sad thing is that I don’t think we’ll ever get a straight answer from our government.

  • Cotour

    The fact that the public is now aware of these towers and they are no longer secret, whom ever they belong to must now assume that at least some of the information that is gleaned from them is suspect. If its the U.S. government monitoring for suspicious communications related to security or whether its the Chinese or Russians attempting to intercept real time actionable information or a combination of the two, for what even reason, who ever it is, their existence is known and therefore all information must be considered compromised. It may still be valuable but its no longer clean.

    This story is all after the fact, when something “secret” is no longer secret and the public is now freely discussing it then its all over. The question remains, what information was collected before the existence of the equipment was revealed and more importantly, what equipment exists now and is not known of ?

  • Iachops

    I listened to an extended interview with the ESD CEO. The “phony cell towers” may not actually be a physical cell tower. The phony cell “tower” could be a laptop with some dongles that just acts like a cell tower to your phone. The Interceptors could be operated by law enforcement, intelligence services, criminals, etc…. The 17 reported phony cell towers are just the ones that ESD CryptoPhone customers have found and posted to a website. There could (and probably are) more.

    The way the Interceptors work is by fooling your phone into thinking there is no 3G service at that phony tower so it tries 2G which has much poorer encryption. Once the handshake between the phony tower and your phone is made the call can be monitored easily.

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