Dept. of Homeland Security says it found evidence of rogue cellphone listening devices in D.C.

Dept. of Homeland Security says it found evidence of rogue cellphone listening devices in D.C.
Worried that foreign spies are eavesdropping on the conversations you have on your cellphone? If you live in Washington D.C., you do have a reason to be concerned. Remember, it isn't paranoia if someone is out to get you. The U.S. government today acknowledged that rogue listening devices known as cell-site simulators have been discovered in the nation's capital. These devices work by tricking cellphones into believing that they are real cell towers and the phone locks into the simulator. This allow those spying to see the location of the 'fooled' cellphone. Some versions of the device can trick a phone into using unencrypted 2G service, which can allow the spies to listen in to a conversation. Other versions of the illegal device can install malware on a phone.

In a letter to Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) dated March 26th, the Department of Homeland Security admitted that it had discovered an undisclosed number of cell-site simulators in Washington D.C. The tone of the letter is ominous. It says that The National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) believes that the use of the simulators is a "real and growing risk." In a statement released on Tuesday, Wyden said that "leaving security to the phone companies has proven to be disastrous." He also said that there is "clear evidence that our phone networks are being exploited by foreign governments and hackers."

This new report comes 6 weeks after the U.S. government warned consumers in the states not to buy Huawei handsets because the company is "effectively an arm of the Chinese government." Back in 2012, a report claimed that Huawei and ZTE phones and networking equipment spy on U.S. consumers and corporations. Huawei recently said that this is all "groundless speculation."

The cell-site simulators can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $200,000. They can be as small as a cellphone or the size of a briefcase. They are placed in cars, inside buildings, or inside low-flying aircraft. And they can trick your phone into giving up your privacy.


source: DocumentCloud via AP

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