At least 17 phony cellphone towers being used to intercept calls in the U.S.
Big Brother is watching. Or, more precisely, listening.
According to a recent report, there are at least 17 mysterious, phony cellphone towers in the United States that appear in every way to be ordinary towers, but have been set up to maliciously eavesdrop on conversations or texts or even push spyware onto a device.
The worst part is that no one knows who erected these towers or what information is being gathered.
“What we find suspicious is that a lot of these interceptors are right on top of U.S. military bases,” Les Goldsmith, the CEO of ESD America told Popular Science. “So we begin to wonder – are some of them U.S. government interceptors? Or are some of them Chinese interceptors?
To be clear, these ‘towers’ are not necessarily the tall, physical spires we’re accustomed to seeing along highways or atop hills. These interceptors can be small, mobile installations that transport easily and can be purchased for as little as $100,000.
“Interceptor use in the U.S. is much higher than people had anticipated,” Goldsmith said. “One of our customers took a road trip from Florida to North Carolina and he found eight different interceptors on that trip. We even found one at South Point Casino in Las Vegas.”
Only users of ultra-secure phones, like Goldsmith’s CryptoPhone 500, can detect interceptors and block content from them. The CryptoPhone 500 looks like an ordinary Galaxy S III but features high-powered encryption and removes most vulnerabilities present in stock phones.
Interceptors are radio-equipped computers that use simple cellular network protocols to get past the operating system’s encryption. This allows users to access calls and texts coming from or going to the average cellphone, regardless of operating system.
“If you've been intercepted, in some cases it might show at the top that you've been forced from 4G down to 2G. But a decent interceptor won't show that,” Goldsmith said. “It'll be set up to show you [falsely] that you're still on 4G. You'll think that you're on 4G, but you're actually being forced back to 2G.”
However, Goldsmith says most consumers – at least those not of interest to government agencies or who seldom leave the country – likely have nothing of interest for interceptors. He says the majority of his company’s business is to executives who do business in Asia.
(Photo courtesy Getty Images)
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