Saturday, 20 December 2014 23:40

Report: Global mobile phone networks and users easily hacked Featured

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A hacker conference in Hamburg this month will see a presentation demonstrating how the world’s mobile phone networks, whether they run on 3G or advanced 4G technologies, can be hacked and spied upon.

The report comes from the Washington Post, which notes that a global network known as ’SS7’ is being used as a back door way to spy on virtually any mobile phone user anywhere on the planet, and pinpoint their locations and communications in real time.

SS7 is a network that interlinks the world’s mobile networks, so they can communicate with each other, and is an upgrade over earlier SS6, SS5 etc versions of this super background network.

The Post reports that the network was ‘first designed in the 1980s’ and has numerous security vulnerabilities that are being actively exploited by governments and anyone that knows about the flaws, with the security researchers noting they aren’t the first to become aware of this vulnerability.

Phone calls be ‘forwarded’ to a third party before being redirected back to the original person being called, encrypted calls and messages can be saved for ‘later decryption’, with both end-users and carriers able to be ‘defrauded’.

This means you can’t be sure you’re safe using your mobile phone as a phone, although various articles on the Internet on the topic state you’re able to protect yourself from the SS7 vulnerabilities by using FaceTime or other VoIP style programs.

That said, who knows who is listening in on your VoIP calls these days… if the entire mobile phone networks of the planet are being hacked into, what isn’t being hacked into?

The article quotes a German senator stating he uses a ‘fixed-line phone’ when he wants to make a secure call, but perhaps that’s just wishful thinking.

Full details can be read at the Washington Post’s must-read story here.


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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