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Guide to DIY Wiretapping

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the do-you-hear-what-i-hear dept.

Communications 183

Geeks are Sexy writes "ITSecurity.com has a nice piece this week on how wiretapping works and how you can protect yourself from people who wants to snoop into your life. From the article 'Even if you aren't involved in a criminal case or illegal operation, it's incredibly easy to set up a wiretap or surveillance system on any type of phone. Don't be surprised to learn that virtually anyone could be spying on you for any reason.'" Maybe I'm on the wrong track here, but I guess I assumed that wiretapping now happened in secret rooms at the telco, and not by affixing something physically to a wire in your home, but I'll definitely be aware next time I hear a stranger breathing next time I'm stuck on hold.

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Hear a stranger breathing? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23857453)

If someone is dumb enough to leave the microphone connected on an intercept phone, they deserve to get caught.

Re:Hear a stranger breathing? (5, Funny)

Lost Penguin (636359) | more than 6 years ago | (#23859153)

You sneeze while on the phone with your friend, and hear "gesundheit".... twice.

It was.. (2, Informative)

f8l_0e (775982) | more than 6 years ago | (#23857547)

The official, albeit illegal kind do occur at the telco, at least these days. Before modern switching a residential tap would have be the way it was done.

Re:It was.. (2, Insightful)

omeomi (675045) | more than 6 years ago | (#23857643)

They are legal when they bother to get a judge to sign a warrant. It's only when they don't get a warrant that they're illegal.

Re:It was.. (2, Interesting)

blcamp (211756) | more than 6 years ago | (#23857843)

They are legal when they bother to get a judge to sign a warrant. It's only when they don't get a warrant that they're illegal.
It's only illegal if someone (or an entity) gets caught, you're able to prove it court, are able to get a ruling in your favor in court, and are able thereafter to enforce remedial action.

Good luck with all that.

Re:It was.. (4, Insightful)

omeomi (675045) | more than 6 years ago | (#23857995)

It's only illegal if someone (or an entity) gets caught, you're able to prove it court, are able to get a ruling in your favor in court, and are able thereafter to enforce remedial action. Good luck with all that.

Well, it's still illegal. Just because the powers that be think they can ignore laws, and have the power to keep from getting prosecuted doesn't change the legality. Maybe someday they'll be brought to justice. Doubt it, though.

Re:It was.. (3, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 6 years ago | (#23858705)

Well, it's still illegal. Just because the powers that be think they can ignore laws, and have the power to keep from getting prosecuted
doesn't change the legality. Maybe someday they'll be brought to justice.


legality is only for those of us who are NOT in law enforcement or the government.

you can talk all you want about constitution this or law that; but while you rot in prison being raped by other guys, tell me again how 'illegal'it was that they tapped you.

laws are an abstract concept. being locked away is the farthest thing from being abstract.

they all know this and this is why we are kept in fear (ie, in check).

(lovely country/world we got here, huh?)

Re:It was.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23860297)

What he said.

Re:It was.. (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 6 years ago | (#23860113)

Even with a warrant, it's only legal if they told the judge the truth to get the warrant. There have been documented cases of agencies materially misrepresenting investigations in order to get warrants, too.

Re:It was.. (3, Interesting)

N1ck0 (803359) | more than 6 years ago | (#23857947)

Of course you can still tap any POTS line the good old fashion way. Its just a matter of accounting for the voltage drop on the line. Although yes if you are the telco it is just easier to capture everything while it is in digital format on the switch. Now if you don't use analog, inline (some random place between the CO and customer) tapping can be a bit harder. You basically either have to record the signals on the line and decode it later, or toss a non-terminating CSU/test kit in the line without making too much of a disruption in the signal.

DIY Wiretapping SOLVED: +1, Informative (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23857575)

>> how you can protect yourself from people who WANT to >>snoop into your life.

Send this war criminal [whitehouse.org] to Gitmo.

Judiciously,
Kilgore Trout

voltage drop (5, Interesting)

omeomi (675045) | more than 6 years ago | (#23857591)

Most of the land line suggestions in that article don't seem to bother with taking care of the noticeable voltage drop caused by adding an extra phone to a call. You can tell when somebody else in your house picks up the phone while you're on it because the person on the other end gets quieter. The same thing would happen if you plugged a phone into the line outside your house. I thought professional surveillance systems did something to make up for this, so there's no noticeable change in volume when the wiretapper starts listening.

Re:voltage drop (5, Insightful)

faloi (738831) | more than 6 years ago | (#23857697)

The downside to some of the audible cues is that, at least amongst people I know, the use of cordless phones is prevalent. And most of the people I know tend to immediately write off any abnormality (shifts in volume, clicking, etc.) in their conversation as being because of the phone. Which is probably the case. Either that or I need a better class of acquaintances.

Re:voltage drop (5, Funny)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 6 years ago | (#23858499)

True story: I have a cordless phone and one time I was talking with my mom and the phone acted a bit weird. She sounded somewhat quieter and there seemed to be static. I shook the phone thinking there was a loose connection and the static was gone but her voice was still quieter.

She asked me what was going on and I told her, "Eh, must be the wiretap on my phone."

As far as I can tell, I have not had that problem since that time.

*cue spooky music*

flakey cell phone system... (1)

airdrummer (547536) | more than 6 years ago | (#23859927)

just the other day, i called my wife cell2cell just as she was accessing her voicemail...i could hear her v.m. prompts:-( verizon sux...

Re:voltage drop (1)

kgskgs (938843) | more than 6 years ago | (#23860475)

I have one similar story too. One time I was talking to a friend of mine who has Eastern European/ Russian accent.
While talking he said something about hacking and there was a noticeable change in the phone line. His voice sounded quieter and echoed a bit. Both of us thought if some wiretapping is going on and we joked about it. We were not discussing anything troublesome, so there was no problem. But we remember it.

Re:voltage drop (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 6 years ago | (#23860645)

It hasn't happened in a few years, but back in the AMPS days, I used to routinely hear other people's conversations while using the cellphone. Sometimes it was clear that they could also hear us; it was almost a party-line situation.

There also were a few times when it apparently switched between cells and didn't move the call correctly, because I suddenly ended up talking to someone who wasn't the person I had been on the phone with a moment before.

When they worked, I think the audio quality was frequently better out of the AMPS phones than out of the modern digital cellular units, though. Plus, a mobile unit put out something like 15 Watts.

By far the dumbest thing about analog cellphones was how the FCC went around and insisted that nobody could buy an 800MHz scanner that had those bands in it ... now that cell technology is dead, but we still have crippled scanners.

Re:voltage drop (2, Interesting)

f8l_0e (775982) | more than 6 years ago | (#23857883)

If you were going to build your own tap, you could add a variable resistor inline to the hook switch. Before listening in on the call, you would dial the resistor up to its highest value, pick up the line, and then reduce the resistance until the audio was at a level you could understand. You could take it down to its minimum value as long as you did it slow enough that the volume drop wasn't noticeable. The professional taps would intercept as soon as the line was picked up though. You wouldn't notice a drop in volume.

You don't need a phone to listen in.. (2, Interesting)

the_rajah (749499) | more than 6 years ago | (#23857917)

If your listening device uses capacitive coupling, then there's no current drain to draw down the nominal 50 volts across an on-hook POTS line. Radio Shack used to sell a little box that coupled like that and also would turn on a recorder when the line went off-hook. Also, since it's a listening only device, there's no risk of being overheard while breathing heavily.

Re:You don't need a phone to listen in.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23858411)

If your listening device uses capacitive coupling, then there's no current drain to draw down the nominal 50 volts across an on-hook POTS line. I take it you failed your engineering courses and now work in IT instead?

Re:You don't need a phone to listen in.. (3, Insightful)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 6 years ago | (#23858905)

Capacitors don't pass current at DC, but they will pass AC current. An analogue signal (which POTS is) is by definition AC. What you need is high impedance. Any old op-amp will have an input impedance of 10^5 ohms or better (often an order of magnitude better), which would cause a negligible voltage drop and be virtually undetectable.

Re:voltage drop (1, Interesting)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 6 years ago | (#23857975)

It depends on your REN [wikipedia.org] number.
Back in the days of modems, my REN was about 4.5.

No matter what device they attach, it will modify your REN number and if it's higher than 4, you'll be able to tell.

Re:voltage drop (4, Interesting)

bugnuts (94678) | more than 6 years ago | (#23858287)

The Ringer Equivalence Number is just the number of phones the ringer can drive. More than that, and they won't have the voltage to ring.

It has nothing to do with talking on the phone.

What you'd want to do is use an inductive microphone or even an inductive loop around the actual cable. It doesn't touch it, and is very difficult to detect if it's nearby the cable... Search for the USS Halibut, and how it tapped a Soviet military underwater cable by using a nearby inductive coil which never interfered with the cable.

Re:voltage drop (5, Interesting)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 6 years ago | (#23858297)

If you use a normal phone, yes. Until recently I worked in telecoms and we were all issued with a near perfect bugging device - a butt phone with monitor mode. Monitor mode is high-impedance so undetectable without some clever kit. Connect it to the right pair, hit the button and you can listen in undetected at will. You can buy one [nimans.net] for a hundred quid ($200) or so, probably less if you shop around. Monitoring lines was standard practice, albeit briefly, when working on a line - you listen to make sure nobody is using the phone, then dial a test number using the line to make sure it's the right circuit, then do whatever you need to do. You aren't supposed to listen to people's conversations, merely ensure the line isn't in use, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen.

Telecoms cabinets aren't all that secure, it's easy to break in and put a tap in one and with a little care it wouldn't be obvious to an engineer working in the cabinet there was anything amiss. You could make a tap with a microcontroller with an ADC and some external RAM. The hard part would be finding the right pair without access to the phone company records or target's premises.

Re:voltage drop (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 6 years ago | (#23860395)

we were all issued with a near perfect bugging device - a butt phone

You were buggered with a "butt phone"? I hope they didn't bother calling you the next day.

Re:voltage drop (3, Funny)

StormReaver (59959) | more than 6 years ago | (#23860755)

"...a butt phone with monitor mode."

You must have had a shitty job listening to all of those crappy conversations.

Re:voltage drop (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23858485)

The "professional" wiretap uses a buttset. These have bed-of-nails clips for monitoring without leaving any particularly obvious traces (a small hole is made through the sheath of the wire, that is all, no cutting or stripping is involved).

They also have both a regular and monitor mode. The regular mode makes it work like a normal telephone, with about 600 Ohms impedance, causing a voltage drop. The monitor mode has 100+ kOhms impedance, which will cause a voltage drop low enough to be indistinguishable from a moisture leak (happens all the time on analog phone lines).

Here's [tiptopelectronics.com] a nice one you can buy right now!

Re:voltage drop (1)

eheldreth (751767) | more than 6 years ago | (#23858503)

If I remember correctly one of the "BOXES" worked on this theory. Something about plugging a lamp into your phone line which would cause the voltage regulator on the surveillance equipment to increase it's output to the point it shorted out and destroyed the offending electronics. I'm not sure if it would have actually worked but I don't think they need to physically tap anything any more so it's a non issue. Maybe I'll have to find those floppies from high school that I hid in a vent in my parents house to refresh my memory.

Re:voltage drop (2, Interesting)

Kingston (1256054) | more than 6 years ago | (#23858541)

A piezoelectric earpiece, like the type that used to be supplied with cheap radios, is perfect for this application. It has a very high input impedence and a tiny current draw. You would not be able to detect its use, there would be no drop in volume on the line.

Re:voltage drop (1)

mdielmann (514750) | more than 6 years ago | (#23858863)

Most of the land line suggestions in that article don't seem to bother with taking care of the noticeable voltage drop caused by adding an extra phone to a call. You can tell when somebody else in your house picks up the phone while you're on it because the person on the other end gets quieter. The same thing would happen if you plugged a phone into the line outside your house. I thought professional surveillance systems did something to make up for this, so there's no noticeable change in volume when the wiretapper starts listening.
I've found that when sharing a phone call with someone (two of us on different phones in the house) that if you held down the mute button, the volume drop pretty much went away. It's worked for me as recently as a year or so ago. With some connections, it's the only thing that makes it possible for either person on the shared line to hear the conversation well.

Re:voltage drop (5, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#23859943)

It's even simpler in the USA to find out if the line is tapped. If the year is 2000 or later, it is.

No thanks... (5, Funny)

Psmylie (169236) | more than 6 years ago | (#23857625)

I'll hold off on trying any of their wiretapping suggestions until they release guides on "DIY Legal defense" and "How to Avoid Getting Buggered in a Federal Prison".

Still, if you're feeling paranoid, by all means check your phones. It's true, nosy neighbors could indeed be spying on you. Never underestimate the average person's voyeurism urges...

Voyeurs - mmmm, exciting! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23857945)

Still, if you're feeling paranoid, by all means check your phones. It's true, nosy neighbors could indeed be spying on you. Never underestimate the average person's voyeurism urges...

Me: Honey, should I get the fish or the Lamb.

Wife: It's up to you, dear.

Well, no. YOu pick honey. I picked last time.

Oh, I don't know. What do you think?

It's up to you.

No, you decide.

Ok, fish.

How about we go out?

Ok. Where?

Oh, I don't know. What do you think?

Thai?

No, we jut had that. How about Mexican?

Well, but you know we'll hit the Margarittas and you need to sleep. You have to work tomorrow.

No, I'm off. You see, Judy and Sam chose these past couple of days but then decided that since their kids are visiting, they need these other days. So, I stepped up to the plate and....

Then I heard this gun shot across the line. Apparently, the neighbor committed suicide for some reason.

Re:Voyeurs - mmmm, exciting! (1)

Ed_Pinkley (881113) | more than 6 years ago | (#23860245)

I laughed out loud at this. Were you tapping *my* phone?

Re:Voyeurs - mmmm, exciting! (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 6 years ago | (#23860581)

When I was a kid the early cordless phones and cellphones could be picked up by the police/air traffic scanners of the day. The conversations were just about that exciting.

Person 1: I don't have the tickets.
Person 2: You sure?
1: Yes
2: I don't have them.
1: Can you look on my dresser?
2: Ok
1: Find them?
2: Wait a sec...yah, here they are.
1: Can you meet me here with them?
Me: (Sound of scanner being turned off)

Re:No thanks... (1)

GeckoAddict (1154537) | more than 6 years ago | (#23858189)

I'm not worried about voyeurism since because my video camera surveillance system pointing at the neighbors would have recorded an event :)

Re:No thanks... (1)

raddan (519638) | more than 6 years ago | (#23860553)

The only reasonable thing to do, if you're worried about your communications being monitored, is to assume that they are being monitored. Relying on the fact that your phone is not tapped is just a bad idea, and this is why all security nowadays happens at the endpoints.

How do you wiretap a cell phone? (1)

DRAGONWEEZEL (125809) | more than 6 years ago | (#23857633)

Hard lines went out when The Matrix went out of theaters. I know there is some frequency scanning intercept type things they can do, but I thought digital cells w/ voice privacy and all that were pretty good from phone to switch???

Re:How do you wiretap a cell phone? (3, Funny)

introspekt.i (1233118) | more than 6 years ago | (#23857769)

Because how can you wiretap something with no wires? It must be completely immune to wiretapping XD.

Re:How do you wiretap a cell phone? (1)

bugnuts (94678) | more than 6 years ago | (#23857905)

Cellphones are easily tapped... with the right equipment. That's the catch, the equipment is very expensive (last I checked, a few years ago).

Analog cellphones were incredibly easy to listen to with a scanner, but this is no longer the case since most is digital.

Re:How do you wiretap a cell phone? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#23858823)

It may be easier [comsec.com] than you think.

Re:How do you wiretap a cell phone? (1)

jcgf (688310) | more than 6 years ago | (#23859921)

SDR on it's own won't help you. You need to be able to break the crypto used on the new phones. Although there has been some progress on that: http://www.schneier.com/cmea.html [schneier.com]

Re:How do you wiretap a cell phone? (1)

kernelphr34k (1179539) | more than 6 years ago | (#23857929)

What's this landline thing....a phone with cables? haha j/k.

I've had a cell phone for years as the only way of communication. You need me? Call my cell or hit me up on AIM or something. Never had a landline for myself, always running around and never at home much. So more of a convenience to have a cell than a landline. Plus why pay for 2 phone services? Yeah, a land line may be ~$30 a month, but I can apply that towards the cell bill.

I see it as family's or the older generation that still have land lines. It's natural, and people have been doing it forever.

Re:How do you wiretap a cell phone? (4, Insightful)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 6 years ago | (#23858609)

So true, though I'm about to have to add a land line back in the mix again unfortunately.
Went out with my wife a couple weeks ago, got a baby sitter. Left our contact numbers with her. She asks "Where's the phone?". Er...
Had to leave my cell phone behind for her to use in case of emergency.

Won't be many more years before my son has friends calling. I either leave him unable to be contacted by phone, let his friends call my cell, or get a land line.

Nope, landlines aren't dead yet and won't be for some time I'm sure.

Re:How do you wiretap a cell phone? (1)

fprintf (82740) | more than 6 years ago | (#23858923)

Get your son his own cell phone. For $10 a month you can get a Tracfone in the U.S., or for that same amount you can often add a phone to a family plan. A heck of a lot cheaper than a landline.

With that said, my family is still on a landline. We do have the Tracfones but they end up being so expensive per minute that the landline plus a $.03 per minute MCI long distance card is the way we talk to family & friends most of the time. I used 23 cell phone minutes last month.

Re:How do you wiretap a cell phone? (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#23859205)

Get your son his own cell phone. For $10 a month you can get a Tracfone in the U.S., or for that same amount you can often add a phone to a family plan. A heck of a lot cheaper than a landline.

How is a Tracfone with per-minute costs that range from $0.20 to $0.50 cheaper than a landline with unlimited local calling?

Re:How do you wiretap a cell phone? (1)

fprintf (82740) | more than 6 years ago | (#23859511)

If the landline costs $30 a month, as the parent posts suggests, then a 1 year card w/ bonus codes for $100 giving 1100 minutes (so $8.33 per month), and 90 minutes of talk time per month is not a bad deal *for a child*.

I agree, for talking locally at the rate that most kids do, a landline with unlimited local calling makes a ton of sense over any pay-as-you-go cell plan. However if a person already has a family plan cell phone with unlimited minutes, the $10 extra phone line would make better sense.

Re:How do you wiretap a cell phone? (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#23860227)

I don't know many teenagers that limit themselves to 90 minutes a month on the phone ;)

I'd grant you the point for an unlimited wireless plan but how many people are going to fork over the $100 a month to get one of those? And aren't they more than that for a family plan anyway? For most people with typical usage a cell phone with a low minute plan (or even a prepaid phone) and a landline for calls at home will be a much cheaper option.

Re:How do you wiretap a cell phone? (1)

BBandCMKRNL (1061768) | more than 6 years ago | (#23860703)

For most people with typical usage a cell phone with a low minute plan (or even a prepaid phone) and a landline for calls at home will be a much cheaper option.
I know you said "most", but unless you have kids who will spend hours on the phone before the unlimited night minutes kick in, you probably don't even need the landline. We, parents, and one adult child, have a family plan with rollover minutes, no landline, and we've never had a bill for excess minutes.

Re:How do you wiretap a cell phone? (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 6 years ago | (#23860743)

I see it as family's or the older generation that still have land lines. Well them, and anyone who has DSL, or wants a communications device that doesn't depend on LOS to a cell tower, or wants equipment with a lifespan exceeding 5-10 years.

Re:How do you wiretap a cell phone? (1)

Hyppy (74366) | more than 6 years ago | (#23857955)

Did you bother to RTFA?

Didn't think so. It's scary what you can do to someone's cell phone.

Re:How do you wiretap a cell phone? (2, Interesting)

DRAGONWEEZEL (125809) | more than 6 years ago | (#23858253)

Every method I have seen so far requires physical access.
Quite frankly, it's a threat, but no more than the famous slashdot meme: If you have physical access you have root.

Who would abandon their celly? I take mine to the bathroom w/ me. I don't let strangers in my house, and it doesn't leave my pocket unless I am making/recieving a call.

I think this is really just FUD to freak people out. Hey whats that? Why does my phoen blink? Oh, it's just a reply to a post on /.!

Re:How do you wiretap a cell phone? (1)

f8l_0e (775982) | more than 6 years ago | (#23858021)

The article references software for smart phones that you can install on your spouses/coworkers/employees/etc. phone that function as a back door. Additionally, there has been mention that the scrambling on GSM phones has an implementation vulnerability that can be broken with a couple of FPGAs. There was an article on /. within the last year or so.

A blast from the past (5, Funny)

chemosh6969 (632048) | more than 6 years ago | (#23857635)

It's the 90s bomb making/revenge/wiretapping text file guides all over again. Only this time it's Web 2.0

Re:A blast from the past (1)

dubloe7 (966214) | more than 6 years ago | (#23857991)

I can practically feel people downloading the anarchist's cookbook now...

Re:A blast from the past (1)

f8l_0e (775982) | more than 6 years ago | (#23858201)

<kenobi>That's good. You have taken your first step into a larger world.</kenobi>

There we go, no land lines for three area codes... (1)

DRAGONWEEZEL (125809) | more than 6 years ago | (#23858457)

due to a blotto box!

really (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23857687)

testing

Stranger things (1)

Bombula (670389) | more than 6 years ago | (#23857695)

Not sure about strangers breathing, but I often hear several other conversations while on my cellphone (AT&T). If you can tap into other folks' lines by accident, I figure it's readily feasible to do so on purpose.

Re:Stranger things (1)

VeNoM0619 (1058216) | more than 6 years ago | (#23860435)

Or perhaps you are hearing white noise and it's Ghosts [imdb.com] ? I think your phone is possessed.

in the day (1)

dubloe7 (966214) | more than 6 years ago | (#23857775)

Ah, the days of a beige box made out of a cordless phone and some batteries... Unfortunately those are also the days of getting a 90 volt shock when the phone rings unexpectedly.

"Open up your phone's receiver" (3, Funny)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 6 years ago | (#23857795)

Yes, because corporate espionage is so often carried out by nefarious time travelers from the 70s and 80s. This gem should also include look for men with wavy hair and bright rays from the nearest time gate.

I can just see the darwin awards (2, Funny)

Denger256 (1161267) | more than 6 years ago | (#23857841)

From TFA
"Listen to other people's calls through your own basic telephone by hooking up your phone to a part of the original line that runs outside the house of your target."

I can just see the Darwin awards on this one when some idiot mistakes the main power line for a phone line when looking for the "red and green wires". ZAP

Much harder to detect (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 6 years ago | (#23857853)

In theory, couldn't you use a current loop probe? [fluke.com] You wouldn't even have to connect any wires. Just the right signal processing and you're done.

Disclaimer: I'm not an EE

Re:Much harder to detect (1)

eakerin (633954) | more than 6 years ago | (#23858011)

You're looking for an Inductive Amplifier. They are commonly used for tracing wires to pick up the tone from the tone generator you put on the other end of the wire.

Re:Much harder to detect (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23858071)

Neither am I. But I sometimes play one on the Internet; and then I keep an eye on the news to see what havoc my bad advice causes.

And yes, you could use a current loop probe, sorta like the one you link to. Just put it in the right place, hook up the correct other equipment (speakers are always good), put a paper clip in the nearest wall socket (you have to make sure you are earthing yourself so that you don't mess up the signal), and go for gold!

Re:Much harder to detect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23858375)

no. sorry.

proper telco test sets for t1, oc3, etc.. can do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23857857)

just an fyi folks.

a proper t1 test set for example can easily drop
a DSO from a T1 and listen in on a call. You just
jack into the monitoring ports on a DSX panel in
the central offices. I have seen fancier test sets
that can do larger circuits but I cannot afford them.

next they would get a T1 drop from the voice switch.
CALEA for example. Feds use that.

Actually attaching wires to the FXS/copper is so
old fashioned that it boggles my mind it is mentioned.

Encrypted VOIP not secure... (3, Insightful)

bugnuts (94678) | more than 6 years ago | (#23857987)

They recommend Skype, which encrypts its traffic.

But the computer is even more vulnerable than a phone to bugs. Tons of malware exists that can "own" a computer, which has given rise to an entire new security market. A phone is easy to tell if it has a bug ... you can simply open it up and look at it. Computers not so much.

It also recommends using a cellphone for confidential calls. Just make sure neither provider uses ATT.

Re:Encrypted VOIP not secure... (2, Interesting)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 6 years ago | (#23859243)

I agree that recommending Skype for security is a bad idea, but for entirely different reasons. I consider my computer safe. Nothing is perfect, but my computer is much safer than the mess at the phone company. However Skype is not secure. It is not even open source. Just like people can do weird stuff at the phone company, they can do weird stuff at Skype. The creators have gone on record saying that the encryption code probably will not stand up to crackers over time.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skype [wikipedia.org]

Re:Encrypted VOIP not secure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23859433)

No 'encyption code' will stand up to hackers over enough time.

Re:Encrypted VOIP not secure... (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#23860045)

The problem is that computers are so darn useful, there's no way to make them so useful without making them useful for malware. The answer is, you build your own dedicated Skype phone that (a) only does Skype and (b) uses read only media for everything it can.

Personally, I wouldn't worry about bugs planted inside a phone, except possibly of software variety. How long before this happens with a smart phone? It's much easier to tap the lines for analog phones.

From your friendly phone guy. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23858015)

Just wanted to say thanks for these articles. Now every single one of our paranoid customers is going to call us up and demand an inspection of their line.

I just want to get this off my chest for most people.... You aren't interesting enough to tap, nobody cares about your private business.

no where left to hide & for many of us no reas (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23858081)

time to melt DOWn all those weapons & build refrigerators & other such positive equipment. the lights are coming up all over now. conspiracy theorists are being vindicated. some might choose a tin umbrella to go with their hats. the fairytail is winding down now. let your conscience be yOUR guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. there are still some choices. if they do not suit you, consider the likely results of continuing to follow the corepirate nazi hypenosys story LIEn, whereas anything of relevance is replaced almost instantly with pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking propaganda or 'celebrity' trivia 'foam'. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on yOUR brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

http://news.google.com/?ncl=1216734813&hl=en&topic=n
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/31/opinion/31mon1.html?em&ex=1199336400&en=c4b5414371631707&ei=5087%0A
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/29/world/29amnesty.html?hp
http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/06/02/nasa.global.warming.ap/index.html
http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/weather/06/05/severe.weather.ap/index.html
http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/weather/06/02/honore.preparedness/index.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/01/opinion/01dowd.html?em&ex=1212638400&en=744b7cebc86723e5&ei=5087%0A
http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/06/05/senate.iraq/index.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/17/washington/17contractor.html?hp

is it time to get real yet? A LOT of energy is being squandered in attempts to keep US in the dark. in the end (give or take a few 1000 years), the creators will prevail (world without end, etc...), as it has always been. the process of gaining yOUR release from the current hostage situation may not be what you might think it is. butt of course, most of US don't know, or care what a precarious/fatal situation we're in. for example; the insidious attempts by the felonious corepirate nazi execrable to block the suns' light, interfering with a requirement (sunlight) for us to stay healthy/alive. it's likely not good for yOUR health/memories 'else they'd be bragging about it? we're intending for the whoreabully deceptive (they'll do ANYTHING for a bit more monIE/power) felons to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather', as well as a # of other things/events.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=weather+manipulation&btnG=Search
http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=video+cloud+spraying

dictator style micro management has never worked (for very long). it's an illness. tie that with life0cidal aggression & softwar gangster style bullying, & what do we have? a greed/fear/ego based recipe for disaster. meanwhile, you can help to stop the bleeding (loss of life & limb);

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/28/vermont.banning.bush.ap/index.html

the bleeding must be stopped before any healing can begin. jailing a couple of corepirate nazi hired goons would send a clear message to the rest of the world from US. any truthful look at the 'scorecard' would reveal that we are a society in decline/deep doo-doo, despite all of the scriptdead pr ?firm? generated drum beating & flag waving propaganda that we are constantly bombarded with. is it time to get real yet? please consider carefully ALL of yOUR other 'options'. the creators will prevail. as it has always been.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption. fortunately there's an 'army' of light bringers, coming yOUR way. the little ones/innocents must/will be protected. after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit? for each of the creators' innocents harmed in any way, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available. 'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet, & by your behaviors. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable. some of US should consider ourselves somewhat fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate. it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc.... as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis. concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order. 'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

meanwhile, the life0cidal philistines continue on their path of death, debt, & disruption for most of US. gov. bush denies health care for the little ones;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/03/bush.veto/index.html

whilst demanding/extorting billions to paint more targets on the bigger kids;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/12/bush.war.funding/index.html

& pretending that it isn't happening here;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3086937.ece
all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

(yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on /.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles. talk about reverse polarity;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3046116.ece

Re:no where left to hide & for many of us no r (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23860503)

Thanks, online version of the crazy hobo ranting incoherently out at the bus stop! You sure make a guy feel at home!

What a load of crap. (5, Informative)

chill (34294) | more than 6 years ago | (#23858105)

The 80s called and their want their wiretapping tech back.

This is great if you're worried about the neighbor kid listening in, but not for anyone serious. Wiretapping is done at the telco level and you can't tell you're being tapped. In the digital age there is no clicking, breathing, voltage drops or any other indication. There is a big long checklist when implementing a CALEA node for making certain there is no way the target can tell they're being monitored.

Re:What a load of crap. (1)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 6 years ago | (#23858563)

Only if your definition of "serious" only includes law enforcement or government. Industrial espionage is pretty serious and shady private detectives can't just wave a court order at the telecoms company, they have to do it the old-fashioned way. But as far as clicking and the like goes, it would take a pretty clumsily designed device to be detectable that easily.

Re:What a load of crap. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#23859399)

These days major businesses (you know, people worth tapping) are bringing in a bigger interface for their phone system, or even using internet telephony. It's not a bunch of pairs of copper so much any more. I imagine it's not too hard to tap into something bigger (a PRI?) but IP telephony is regularly encrypted.

Re:What a load of crap. (2, Insightful)

idontgno (624372) | more than 6 years ago | (#23860469)

Well then thank $DIETY that business conversations never occur outside the secure premises of a place of business. Certainly, what manager, executive, or board member [techlawjournal.com] * would use a home phone line to conduct confidential business.

Dang, I left my sarcasm tags at home this morning.

*Yes, the link is not about phone tapping, it's about pretexting. But note that some of the target phone numbers were home phone lines. If someone can be troubled to illegally access your home phone records for a business investigation, it's only a difference of degree, not kind, to tapping that same home phone.

It's only gay (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23858141)

if balls are touching

@CmdrTaco: it's worse than you think. (3, Insightful)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 6 years ago | (#23858193)

Maybe I'm on the wrong track here, but I guess I assumed that wiretapping now happened in secret rooms at the telco, and not by affixing something physically to a wire in your home, but I'll definitely be aware next time I hear a stranger breathing next time I'm stuck on hold.
The type of surveillance you describe is indeed occuring, but it's not particularly selective in many cases. What's concerning is the fact that wiretapping occurs a lot more than people realize, for a variety of reasons, by private and public sector parties. As I'm sure you're aware, physical access is rarely required to accomplish the task these days.

It doesn't have to be a government (1)

thepacketmaster (574632) | more than 6 years ago | (#23858249)

"Maybe I'm on the wrong track here, but I guess I assumed that wiretapping now happened in secret rooms at the telco, and not by affixing something physically to a wire in your home."

Wiretapping might happen in a telco if it was a legitimate government operation. If it's a rogue operation, a private investigator or just some stalker, they won't be using the telco company to do it.

WTF?? (4, Interesting)

f8l_0e (775982) | more than 6 years ago | (#23858333)

The article also links to this product [toysrus.com] . They never had toys this fscking cool when I was a kid.

Sounds like... (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 6 years ago | (#23858339)

Sounds like a DIY one-way ticket to gitmo, if you ask me.

Re:Sounds like... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#23859445)

Sounds like a DIY one-way ticket to gitmo, if you ask me.

Well, they just instated Habeas Corpus at gitmo... and if they declare you to be a terrorist or enemy combatant, you can lose it here... And besides, isn't waterboarding similar to a spa treatment? You can catch up on your R&R and work on your skin at the same time!

Just hope you look good in orange...

Re:Sounds like... (1)

lastchance_000 (847415) | more than 6 years ago | (#23859543)

gitmo is reserved for people the feds can't charge with an actual crime. This activity will send you to federal "pound-me-in-the-ass" prison.

if you want to speak to someone in private (1, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#23858425)

go walk with them on a beach. if this seems like too much effort, then whatever it is you have to talk about isn't that important to you, and therefore not worth the effort to ensure its privacy

if you are upset at your government spying on you, then what strange notion of yours convinced you that an expansive public network would have no spying on it? i'm not talking about the government passing this law or that law about surveillance, i'm talking about the surveillance that woudl happen anyway, regardless of the laws. duh. which brings us to:

the creeps and slimy types interested in spying on other people's conversations. congratulations, you are as bad as the government who spies on people, because your motivations are certainly no better than their's

so this article sucks, in three different ways:

1. the lazy and indolent who don't want to ensure their privacy by just talking face to face in an obscure place
2. the naive and stupid, who somehow believe it is possible to have a network free of government intrusion, anywhere in the world, regardless of any laws
3. the evil and creepy, who actually want to listen in on other people's conversations, never mind what the government is doing

this whole article is a loser's ball

Beige boxing: a blast from the past! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23858531)

You mean there's a device you could attach to a phone line to listen to a call? Amazing!

For people in the know, there's an easier method to listen in on calls which is only detectable by the phone company: a Direct Access Test Unit [wikipedia.org] or DATU. Find one of these "secret" numbers on the exchange your victim is on and you have the ability to snoop on their calls using the phone company's own test equipment. Messing with these numbers is also a very quick way to go to jail, but you sorta run that risk with an illegal wiretap anyway (unless you work in the Executive branch).

Wireless phone = more fun (5, Funny)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 6 years ago | (#23858675)

Couple of years ago, one of my neighbors narced on me because they thought I was playing video games too loud. This led to me getting a set of wireless headphones to listen to TV with.

It completely surprised me the first time I put them on and couldn't get them to tune into the TV's transmitter because all the channels were full of wireless phone conversations.

Sadly, none of my neighbors have any secrets worth listening to. And even worst, most of them seem to have no issues with taking the phone into the shitter with them :/

In revenge, I've hooked up the transmitter to a cheap dvd player and leave anime porn running on a loop just before going to work, every few days....

Re:Wireless phone = more fun (4, Funny)

apparently (756613) | more than 6 years ago | (#23860341)

In revenge, I've hooked up the transmitter to a cheap dvd player and leave anime porn running on a loop just before going to work, every few days.

But at the end of the day, you're still a dude who owns anime porn. FAIL.

possible != likely (2, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 6 years ago | (#23858737)

Even if someone did try one of these amateurish techniques, they are unlikely to come up with anything they can use against you. Apart from the fact that most people simply aren't that interesting, do you really care if they hear you talking to Aunt Ethel. Most people use their mobile phones for any discrete communication - far less chance of someone in your own house picking up an extension, or hitting redial.

This is old information which didn't ever work properly and is increasingly irrelevant today.

Coming up next: how to get free long-distance by whistling down the phone ...

Yes, it is done at the telco (2, Informative)

rob_osx (851996) | more than 6 years ago | (#23858769)

As a embedded software developer at a major telco equipment manufacturer I can verify that when the government wants a wiretap, they can do it easily at the telco. Several times telcos came to us and said "the government has asked for a wiretap how can we use your equipment to comply?" The process to do the wiretap was the same used to setup a conference bridge, which digitally duplicates the DS0 or T1. The government could then get a digital copy of all voice/data of the lines.

Re:Yes, it is done at the telco (1)

SaDan (81097) | more than 6 years ago | (#23859625)

I was wondering when someone would say something about digital switching.

No way to detect that someone is listening in on your conversation if they're just duplicating 0s and 1s.

I used to work for a company that basically made huge wiretap systems for digital telephone switches for call centers. Perfect recordings every time, zero call quality issues.

Who remebers the U5 testmode on Motphones? (2, Insightful)

Sabz5150 (1230938) | more than 6 years ago | (#23858971)

Remember how easy it was to listen on conversations over cellular phones back then? A piece of tinfoil or a soldered wire (some even allowed you to enter this mode via keypad) was all you needed to listen in on conversations. Not that I did any of this stuff... not me, no sir.

When I was young... (3, Funny)

javelinco (652113) | more than 6 years ago | (#23858989)

I remember when I was younger, going around with a handset with roach clips at the end of the wire, opening phone boxes and plugging in. It was always a bit of a surprise when we tapped an active line, but MAN! So easy to do. I don't know if things are still setup the same way these days - I know the phone boxes around here are locked - not sure if the same key opens all of them anymore, but yeah - easy to tap a phone line? Sure, as long as you don't mind sitting in the bushes! I'm sure there is technology that can make it easier than that, these days.

Oh, the above story? Not me, of course. When I say I, I'm talking about someone else I heard stories about, of course. I'd never do anything remotely approaching illegal, such as making long distance phone calls on other people's lines. That's crazy!

Re:When I was young... (3, Funny)

Sabz5150 (1230938) | more than 6 years ago | (#23859157)

going around with a handset with roach clips at the end of the wire
You beige boxing pothead :)

DIY wire tapping? (4, Funny)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 6 years ago | (#23859367)

Why would I want to wiretap myself?

SW Radio can do this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23859955)

I eavesdropped one of my family member's conversation using a small SW radio (it was a cordless phone.)
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