An investigation by 60 minutes on Channel 9 about Smartphone Hacking and Bugging delves into the flaws in the Signaling Standard 7 (SS7) system which allows mobile phone calls and messages to communicate between telecommunications providers. With the right equipment, this flaw allows mobile phones to be tracked, and calls and messages to be intercepted. A demonstration of this was highlighted in the investigation, with Australian Senator Nick Xenophon authorising interception of his conversations and movements.
The investigation also revealed IMSI catchers, which are fake/rogue cell towers. These IMSI catchers mimic real cell towers by amplifying the power slightly so that any mobile phones nearby will automatically connect to the stronger signal. Using a GSMK Cryptophone, IMSI catchers can be detected, with alerts popping up on screen advising the user of possible interception attempts. IMSI catchers try to force the network down from 4G or 3G down to 2G which has weak encryption that is easily cracked. Doing so would allow the attacker to send commands to the phone and control the device (for example, pictures may be taken, phone calls may be listened to, messages may be intercepted, etc). To see the story, click here.