Everyone knows that computers and mobile devices are vulnerable to hacking. But an article in the Gainesville online reports that “much of the digital technology that protects the privacy of cell phone calls…is now ripe for attack.”
The reason? Mobile security technology is dated—most of it was developed in the 1980s and 90s. The Berlin-based consulting company, Security Research Labs (SRL), recently published a study that found 31 mobile operators in Europe, North Africa and Asia “provided poor or week defenses to protect consumers from illicit surveillance and identity theft.”
SRL found that it was able to “hack into mobile conversations and text messages [and] impersonate the identities of cell phone users…using an inexpensive, 7-year-old Motorola cell phone and free decryption software available on the Internet.”
The technique the company used was fairly simple. SRL focused on “deciphering the predictable, standard electronic ‘conversations’ that take place between a cell phone and a mobile network at the beginning of each call.” Many of these are in the form of “simple commands like, ‘I have a call for you,’ or ‘Wait.’”
The company found that most operators use the same or very similar set up procedures. This in turn allowed SRL to “use hacking software to make high-speed, educated guesses to decipher the complex algorithmic keys networks used to encrypt transmissions.” Once researchers discovered these keys, they were able to impersonate users to make calls, send text messages or listen to their voicemails.
The research was limited primarily to Europe. Nevertheless, SRL did say that “the level of security provided by US network operators was on par with European operators.” This means that cell phone users face similar hacking threats on this side of the Atlantic and that cell phone companies based in the US show as great a need for improvement as those abroad.
Whether you need voicemail protection or e-mail protection, Austin Mobile Computer Repair can advise you on what technology works best and how to protect yourself from possible hacking.