Fake Cell Towers Across US That Gain Access To Your Smartphone
The Lord of the Hackers: The 19 Towers
Around 19 phony cell towers have been located around the United States according to a security company selling Samsung Galaxy S3s with enhanced encryption.
The fake cell towers were discovered in July and were reported by Popular Science that the tower’s have the ability to attack mobile phones through gaining access to personal information by installing spyware. Not quite the Two Towers in Mordor; but they are equally quite a troublesome conspiracy theory.
According to The Daily Mail, Customers using the heavily customised Android device Cryptophone 500 have detected signals from transmitters masked as cell towers. Worryingly if a cell phone connects to it, the towers can track the phone's location or leave data on its operating system vulnerable to cyber attacks. This makes phones more vulnerable to hackers.
Les Goldsmith, chief executive of security firm ESD America, told the Popular Science: "Interceptor use in the US is much higher than people had anticipated.
"One of our customers took a road trip from Florida to North Carolina and he found eight different interceptors on that trip. We even found one at a casino in Las Vegas."
He said several of the masts were situated near US military bases;"What we find suspicious is that a lot of these interceptors are right on top of US military bases," he said.
"So we begin to wonder - are some of them US government interceptors? Or are some of them Chinese interceptors?
"Whose interceptor is it? Who are they, that's listening to calls around military bases? Is it just the US military, or are they foreign governments doing it? The point is: we don't really know whose they are."
The towers are reported to be scattered across the U.S, some were located in New York City, Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.
These tracking devices have existed in the U.S for decades and have even benefited the police and homeland security. However critics suggested that using these devices were morally unethical.
The Wall Street Journal reported in 2011 that the Federal Bureau of Investigations used a device known as a stingray to catch tax fraud Daniel David Rigmaiden.
Whilst according to L.A Weekly, The Los Angeles Police Department purchased a stingray/stinger and used it to monitor 21 individuals suspected of murder and burglary. They used this in spite stating the device would be used for 'regional terrorism investigations' in a grant application submitted to the Department of Homeland Security
Popular Science said that the devices target the smartphone's 'baseband operating system.' This receives radio signals such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Users are worried this compromises the constitutional rights of American’s.