As you may or may not have heard GSM technology isn’t secure, that is, the outdated algorithms still used today have been broken. In fact, bigger brother 3G has been compromised also. So what does this mean? Your cell phone calls are not private.
But where they ever really? Authorities have always had the capability to monitor calls, so the technology was there already. If it was there to facilitate criminal investigation, is it possible that it was being exploited for other purposes?
And consider this: standing in line at a Chapters store the other day, I could not help but overhear a gentleman in front of me speaking to someone on his cell phone, presumably completing some sort of application. Before the line so much as nudged I heard him rattle off his full name, home address, contact phone number, employer’s name, and SIN number…twice – I guess he had static on the line. I looked to my left and noticed a number of people sitting at the adjacent Starbucks, happily plugging away on their laptops. And I couldn’t help but wonder, “Did anyone get that?” Surely they could hear him, siting there a few feet away.
It’s far too easy.
It seems to me, that quite frequently, unless we feel something is “wrong” or “embarassing” we don’t take precaution to disguise or protect what we are talking about, we don’t even hush our voices in case someone near by is listening. And someone is always listening – you know that old saying “walls have ears”? Well, they do. And they aren’t the only ones.
So we know that technology existed well before the GSM security eas hacked, that enabled officials to monitor cellular calls. We know that people around us – even if we can’t see them – can hear what we say on a cell phone call. What else?
Well, did you know that there are a number of softwares that enable people to use your cell phone like a recorder, or microphone? And you don’t even have to be on a call. In fact, your cell phone doesn’t even need to be turned on. In fact all that is required is that the battery is inside the handheld.
One such software is called CignalSpy, and claims to be able to not only listen by activating the microphone, it also enables users to listen to live calls, read SMS messages, and track the cell phone’s location!
But that’s not all, a friend of mine showed me an iPhone app the other day called SpoofApp that allows him to “imitate” someone else by “borrowing” their phone number to make outbound calls….without getting the person’s authorization to do so. In addition it allows you to change your voice to disguise yourself.
Tools like CignalSpy and SpoofApp may have some amusing applications, maybe even some helpful ones. But they are double edged swords.
So what have we learned? Even if GSM and 3G encryption hadn’t been broken, cell phones are still FAR removed from security.