Fake cellphone towers could be listening to your calls

17 such sites were detected in the United States alone

Intercepting phones and tapping into the conversation is not new. With better technology and phones going from wireless to mobile and cellular, the government and spy/security agencies are getting better with their penetration methods.

CryptoPhone 500 is a smartphone, marketed by ESD America, is a highly secure smartphone. It is built as a Samsung Galaxy S3 in disguise, but features a high-powered encryption under the hood.

According to a report on Popular Science, Les Goldsmith, the CEO of ESD America, says the phone also runs a customized or "hardened" version of Android that removes 468 vulnerabilities that his engineering team found in the stock installation of the OS.

Goldsmith stated that his mobile security team ‘found that the version of the Android OS that comes standard on the Samsung Galaxy SIII leaks data to parts unknown 80-90 times every hour’. Though this does not mean that the smartphone is hacked or hijacked, the user simply does not know which app is beaming what kind of content. Goldsmith’s clients need real security and control over their devices, and hence the CryptoPhone 500 was built.

The CryptoPhone 500, on contrary, in a challenge to show what it can do better than other competitors in the market, unearthed 17 different fake cellphone towers, which are known as interceptors. These interceptors look like any regular conventional mobile phone tower, but once the phone connects to the tower, a variety of over-the-air attacks can be deployed. These attacks can vary between call eavesdropping; text spamming and even pushing spy apps into the smartphone.

Who is running these interceptors and what are they doing with the calls? Goldsmith says we can’t be sure, but he has his suspicions. So are these military based interceptors? Are they installed by the government security department? Or are they installed by another spying country?

At present, there have been no such reports from India about similar tower citing and attacks. However, it looks like it is time the government deploys a security agency to carry out an investigation around the area, especially in VIP and Government/Military zones.

So the next time you look up to another building and spot a mobile tower suspiciously crop up overnight, it could be an interceptor in your area. While one should not worry at this point since these interceptors are extremely costly, we would still advice being alert.

To keep yourself safe from any attacks, make sure you switch off your Bluetooth and Wi-fi when moving out of home. Furthermore, make sure that your mobile network is switched to manual rather than automatic. Don’t install any suspicious apps from third-party websites. Install a good antivirus. Lastly, though a bit inconvenient, try not saving sensitive personal data on the phone itself.

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