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Mysterious, Phony Cell Towers Found Throughout US

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the can-you-hear-me-now dept.

Cellphones 237

Trachman writes: Popular Science magazine recently published an article about a network of cell towers owned not by telecommunication companies but by unknown third parties. Many of them are built around U.S. military bases. "Interceptors vary widely in expense and sophistication – but in a nutshell, they are radio-equipped computers with software that can use arcane cellular network protocols and defeat the onboard encryption. ... Some interceptors are limited, only able to passively listen to either outgoing or incoming calls. But full-featured devices like the VME Dominator, available only to government agencies, can not only capture calls and texts, but even actively control the phone, sending out spoof texts, for example."

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First Post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47813379)

It's a sad day when I have a first post.

They used to be called UHF TV tuners (4, Interesting)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about 2 months ago | (#47813381)

We could listen to AMPS cell phone calls by tuning to the high UHF channels and tuning between channels... Ahhh anyone remember the joy of pressing the outer tuning ring and going back and forth???

Re:They used to be called UHF TV tuners (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47813477)

I remember, but I soon discovered I don't enjoy listening to complete idiots gossiping about nothing.

Re:They used to be called UHF TV tuners (2)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about 2 months ago | (#47813523)

I discovered it wasn't as much fun as listening to the CB in small towns.

Re: They used to be called UHF TV tuners (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47813925)

So you come to /.?

Re:They used to be called UHF TV tuners (5, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 2 months ago | (#47813555)

Ahhh anyone remember the joy of pressing the outer tuning ring and going back and forth???

Worst pick-up line ever.

Re:They used to be called UHF TV tuners (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 2 months ago | (#47814267)

she can press my outer tuning ring and go back and forth on it any time she wants!

Re:They used to be called UHF TV tuners (4, Funny)

Frobnicator (565869) | about 2 months ago | (#47813629)

Picking up phone calls over TV tuners is one thing. Buying and installing a product with a name like "VME Dominator".

One of those can happen by innocent mistake. The other sounds ... well, not so innocent.

Re:They used to be called UHF TV tuners (4, Funny)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 2 months ago | (#47813989)

So it would be ok if they renamed it "VME Fluffy Bunny"?

Re:They used to be called UHF TV tuners (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47814035)

You were never really good at understanding poetry at high school, were you?

Re:They used to be called UHF TV tuners (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 2 months ago | (#47813635)

I still have my JRC NRD-525. Man that thing would pick up anything. Cell phones, baby intercoms, cordless phones, military radio, etc etc.

Too bad so much is encrypted now.

Re:They used to be called UHF TV tuners (2)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about 2 months ago | (#47813671)

That's what SDR is for!

Re: They used to be called UHF TV tuners (1)

bistromath007 (1253428) | about 2 months ago | (#47814159)

So there's radio equipment that allows you to listen in to random people's conversations about nothing, and it's called the Jerk Nerd...

Re:They used to be called UHF TV tuners (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47813789)

My buddy use to come over with a scanner in the late 1999s and we'd tap into the local Ameritec tower to watch calls going in and out via real time. We'd pick a random number at 3am and call them (usually they were very drunk) and start shouting at them "NO THIS ISN'T GARY STOP CALLING ME" then listen to them babble about how they thought they had a wrong number.

Re:They used to be called UHF TV tuners (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47813831)

I was told it was illegal. Whether that was just FCC strong-arming or not, I don't know. I was a teenager when I did that and I figured correctly that there was no harm or consequence to be had. Most of the TV sets, even in the 1980s could not do it. We had an old black and white that went up to channel 83 or something like that. Yep, by using the fine-tuning ring you could get one side of some conversations. This was in the Washington DC metro area too, so I had teenage fantasies of hearing about some Russian spy drop or something. Yeah, like they'd be stupid enough to talk about it in obvious terms; but whatever. I was bored. Between that and the fleeting flash of boobies on the poorly scrambled Super TV system, well... this was before we had Internet in the home, and before "geeks" got all the babes. We were nerds and nobody liked us. We had to hack through snow on the TV after we walked through it.

Re:They used to be called UHF TV tuners (1)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about 2 months ago | (#47813963)

Maybe before we had internet access in the home but surely you were on BBSs??

Re:They used to be called UHF TV tuners (2)

SumDog (466607) | about 2 months ago | (#47814201)

My buddy in high school had a police scanner and as we were driving around we could ocasionally pick up cellphone calls, but only one half of them. It really sucked when we got the boring half.

"Yep...uh huh...yea...What time?...I'm free tomorrow...yea....uhuh....what?...gotcha..."

Re:They used to be called UHF TV tuners (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47814521)

I had a RS 2006 scanner with the diode cut. traveling on hwy 5 at night and being bored but not want to fall asleep, tune into cellphone freq, and there was a lot of them so if conversation boring, go to another. Not much excitement however.

Re:They used to be called UHF TV tuners (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 2 months ago | (#47814253)

If these towers are not registered with the FCC, then what would happen if one possibly fell over?

Re:They used to be called UHF TV tuners (1)

GNious (953874) | about 2 months ago | (#47814429)

If they are owned by the Military? lots of "interesting" things could happen.

Re:They used to be called UHF TV tuners (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | about 2 months ago | (#47814513)

If these towers are not registered with the FCC, then what would happen if one possibly fell over?

Nothing. Like a tree falling in a forest with nobody around to hear it. Besides being factious that FCC no longer does enforcement but probably get attention from OSHA or local planning dept that issues permits.

Where did the linked to article go? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47813397)

Um, where did the article go?

Google shows that the article did exist, but no longer

https://www.google.com/search?q=%22Interceptors+vary+widely+in+expense+and+sophistication+%E2%80%93+but+in+a+nutshell%2C+they+are+radio-equipped+computers%22&oq=%22Interceptors+vary+widely+in+expense+and+sophistication+%E2%80%93+but+in+a+nutshell%2C+they+are+radio-equipped+computers%22

Article full text (5, Informative)

gargleblast (683147) | about 2 months ago | (#47813537)

Source. [immaculata.edu]

Mysterious Phony Cell Towers Could Be Intercepting Your Calls

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 11:00

Unencrypted Connection Les Goldsmith Like many of the ultra-secure phones that have come to market in the wake of Edward Snowden's leaks, the CryptoPhone 500, which is marketed in the U.S. by ESD America and built on top of an unassuming Samsung Galaxy SIII body, features high-powered encryption. Les Goldsmith, the CEO of ESD America, says the phone also runs a customized or "hardened" version of Android that removes 468 vulnerabilities that his engineering team team found in the stock installation of the OS.

His mobile security team also found that the version of the Android OS that comes standard on the Samsung Galaxy SIII leaks data to parts unknown 80-90 times every hour. That doesn't necessarily mean that the phone has been hacked, Goldmsith says, but the user can't know whether the data is beaming out from a particular app, the OS, or an illicit piece of spyware. His clients want real security and control over their device, and have the money to pay for it.

To show what the CryptoPhone can do that less expensive competitors cannot, he points me to a map that he and his customers have created, indicating 17 different phony cell towers known as “interceptors,” detected by the CryptoPhone 500 around the United States during the month of July alone. Interceptors look to a typical phone like an ordinary tower. Once the phone connects with the interceptor, a variety of “over-the-air” attacks become possible, from eavesdropping on calls and texts to pushing spyware to the device.

“Interceptor use in the U.S. is much higher than people had anticipated,” Goldsmith says. “One of our customers took a road trip from Florida to North Carolina and he found 8 different interceptors on that trip. We even found one at South Point Casino in Las Vegas.”

Who is running these interceptors and what are they doing with the calls? Goldsmith says we can’t be sure, but he has his suspicions.

“What we find suspicious is that a lot of these interceptors are right on top of U.S. military bases. So we begin to wonder – are some of them U.S. government interceptors? Or are some of them Chinese interceptors?” says Goldsmith. “Whose interceptor is it? Who are they, that's listening to calls around military bases? Is it just the U.S. military, or are they foreign governments doing it? The point is: we don't really know whose they are.”

Ciphering Disabled Les Goldsmith

Interceptors vary widely in expense and sophistication – but in a nutshell, they are radio-equipped computers with software that can use arcane cellular network protocols and defeat the onboard encryption. Whether your phone uses Android or iOS, it also has a second operating system that runs on a part of the phone called a baseband processor. The baseband processor functions as a communications middleman between the phone’s main O.S. and the cell towers. And because chip manufacturers jealously guard details about the baseband O.S., it has been too challenging a target for garden-variety hackers.

“The baseband processor is one of the more difficult things to get into or even communicate with,” says Mathew Rowley, a senior security consultant at Matasano Security. “[That’s] because my computer doesn't speak 4G or GSM, and also all those protocols are encrypted. You have to buy special hardware to get in the air and pull down the waves and try to figure out what they mean. It's just pretty unrealistic for the general community.”

But for governments or other entities able to afford a price tag of “less than $100,000,” says Goldsmith, high-quality interceptors are quite realistic. Some interceptors are limited, only able to passively listen to either outgoing or incoming calls. But full-featured devices like the VME Dominator, available only to government agencies, can not only capture calls and texts, but even actively control the phone, sending out spoof texts, for example. Edward Snowden revealed that the N.S.A. is capable of an over-the-air attack that tells the phone to fake a shut-down while leaving the microphone running, turning the seemingly deactivated phone into a bug. And various ethical hackers have demonstrated DIY interceptor projects, using a software programmable radio and the open-source base station software package OpenBTS – this creates a basic interceptor for less than $3,000. On August 11, the F.C.C. announced an investigation into the use of interceptors against Americans by foreign intelligence services and criminal gangs.

An “Over-the-Air” Attack Feels Like Nothing

Whenever he wants to test out his company’s ultra-secure smart phone against an interceptor, Goldsmith drives past a certain government facility in the Nevada desert. (To avoid the attention of the gun-toting counter-intelligence agents in black SUVs who patrol the surrounding roads, he won't identify the facility to Popular Science). He knows that someone at the facility is running an interceptor, which gives him a good way to test out the exotic “baseband firewall” on his phone. Though the baseband OS is a “black box” on other phones, inaccessible to manufacturers and app developers, patent-pending software allows the GSMK CryptoPhone 500 to monitor the baseband processor for suspicious activity.

So when Goldsmith and his team drove by the government facility in July, he also took a standard Samsung Galaxy S4 and an iPhone to serve as a control group for his own device.

”As we drove by, the iPhone showed no difference whatsoever. The Samsung Galaxy S4, the call went from 4G to 3G and back to 4G. The CryptoPhone lit up like a Christmas tree.”

Though the standard Apple and Android phones showed nothing wrong, the baseband firewall on the Cryptophone set off alerts showing that the phone’s encryption had been turned off, and that the cell tower had no name – a telltale sign of a rogue base station. Standard towers, run by say, Verizon or T-Mobile, will have a name, whereas interceptors often do not.

Some devices can not only capture calls and texts, but even actively control the phone and send spoof texts.

And the interceptor also forced the CryptoPhone from 4G down to 2G, a much older protocol that is easier to de-crypt in real-time. But the standard smart phones didn’t even show they’d experienced the same attack.

“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,” says Goldsmith. “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.”

So Do I Need One?

Though Goldsmith won’t disclose sales figures or even a retail price for the GSMK CryptoPhone 500, he doesn’t dispute an MIT Technology Review article from this past spring reporting that he produces about 400 phones per week for $3,500 each. So should ordinary Americans skip some car payments to be able to afford to follow suit?

It depends on what level of security you expect, and who you might reasonably expect to be trying to listen in, says Oliver Day, who runs Securing Change, an organization that provides security services to non-profits.

“There's this thing in our industry called “threat modeling,” says Day. “One of the things you learn is that you have to have a realistic sense of your adversary. Who is my enemy? What skills does he have? What are my goals in terms of security?”

If you’re not realistically of interest to the U.S. government and you never leave the country, then the CryptoPhone is probably more protection than you need. Goldsmith says he sells a lot of phones to executives who do business in Asia. The aggressive, sophisticated hacking teams working for the People’s Liberation Army have targeted American trade secrets, as well as political dissidents.

Day, who has written a paper about undermining censorship software used by the Chinese government, recommends people in hostile communications environments watch what they say over the phone and buy disposable “burner” phones that can be used briefly and then discarded.

“I'm not bringing anything into China that I'm not willing to throw away on my return trip,” says Day.

Goldsmith warns that a “burner phone” strategy can be dangerous. If Day were to call another person on the Chinese government’s watch list, his burner phone’s number would be added to the watch list, and then the government would watch to see who else he called. The CryptoPhone 500, in addition to alerting the user whenever it’s under attack, can “hide in plain sight” when making phone calls. Though it does not use standard voice-over-IP or virtual private network security tools, the CryptoPhone can make calls using just a WI-FI connection -- it does not need an identifiable SIM card. When calling over the Internet, the phone appears to eavesdroppers as if it is just browsing the Internet.

Re:Article full text (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47813617)

Thanks.

Ok, the problem is that popsci.com seems to redirect to popsci.com.au and the link doesn't exist on the .au site.

Re:Article full text (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47814225)

The FCC doesn't have a rule (with the power of law) prohibiting this?

Re:Article full text (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47814587)

The FCC doesn't have jurisdiction outside the US.

So this is the first post... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47813401)

...that actively listens in on your calls?

sensationalism, ahoy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47813411)

You know, cellular networks use radio, folks. When you're transmitting electromagnetic radiation using the fabric of spacetime as your communications medium, it becomes rather quite difficult to prevent interception. Learn to use encryption and quit your whining.

Re:sensationalism, ahoy (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 months ago | (#47813781)

Learn to use encryption and quit your whining.

What if you have to talk to a normal person, and they don't have a clue about encryption? Encryption requires technical knowledge at both ends of the phone call. Even if you use encryption, "they" can still see who you are calling and how long you talk.

Re:sensationalism, ahoy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47814203)

> Even if you use encryption, "they" can still see who you are calling and how long you talk.

Only if you are establishing a connection. If you just broadcast what you have to say "out there" and know only one person has the key to listen, its actually quite hard to know who is talking to who.

Re:sensationalism, ahoy (1)

Imrik (148191) | about 2 months ago | (#47814491)

As long as they don't feel the need to respond that is. Unless that sort of approach becomes common it's almost trivial to figure out who's talking to whom.

Re:sensationalism, ahoy (1)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | about 2 months ago | (#47814223)

"using the fabric of spacetime as your communications medium, it becomes rather quite difficult to prevent interception"

I've heard that if you use plaid for your space-time fabric that interception is much more difficult.

Around or on top of millitary bases? (5, Insightful)

m00sh (2538182) | about 2 months ago | (#47813413)

The article says ...

What we find suspicious is that a lot of these interceptors are right on top of U.S. military bases.

The summary says ...

Many of them are built around U.S. military bases.

Way to slant the summary to make it look like Chinese towers rather than our towers.

Re:Around or on top of millitary bases? (1)

msauve (701917) | about 2 months ago | (#47813457)

I'd give the US military more credit than that. They wouldn't place their own interceptors directly on their bases, but nearby. Else, how would you have plausible deniability?

Re:Around or on top of millitary bases? (5, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 months ago | (#47813815)

I'd give the US military more credit than that. They wouldn't place their own interceptors directly on their bases, but nearby. Else, how would you have plausible deniability?

It is likely that the military doesn't need deniability. Many FCC rules don't apply to the military. It is quite likely that they they can legal operate their own cell towers. Similar exceptions are made for prisons, which can operate their own cell towers [latimes.com] to keep inmates from making calls from smuggled cell phones.

Re:Around or on top of millitary bases? (3, Informative)

k6mfw (1182893) | about 2 months ago | (#47814547)

It is likely that the military doesn't need deniability. Many FCC rules don't apply to the military.

military, like other federal agencies are "licensed" and freq coordinated by the NTIA and there databases are not publicly available like FCC general menu reports. http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/Gener... [fcc.gov]

Re:Around or on top of millitary bases? (2)

SpzToid (869795) | about 2 months ago | (#47813577)

This is a good article, as before I had no idea such sophisticated rogue towers were such a threat all over the US.

So when Goldsmith and his team drove by the government facility in July, he also took a standard Samsung Galaxy S4 and an iPhone to serve as a control group for his own device.

”As we drove by, the iPhone showed no difference whatsoever. The Samsung Galaxy S4, the call went from 4G to 3G and back to 4G. The CryptoPhone lit up like a Christmas tree.”

Though the standard Apple and Android phones showed nothing wrong, the baseband firewall on the Cryptophone set off alerts showing that the phone’s encryption had been turned off, and that the cell tower had no name – a telltale sign of a rogue base station. Standard towers, run by say, Verizon or T-Mobile, will have a name, whereas interceptors often do not.

Re:Around or on top of millitary bases? (4, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 months ago | (#47813851)

This is a good article, as before I had no idea such sophisticated rogue towers were such a threat all over the US.

It is common. Where I live, in San Jose, California, our police department was caught illegally monitoring phone calls by operating a Stingray [wikipedia.org] , which mimics a cell phone tower. Of course no one was punished or disciplined, and certainly no one lost their badge, because, hey, they are cops, and boys will be boys.

Re: Around or on top of millitary bases? (1)

dimethylxanthine (946092) | about 2 months ago | (#47813651)

Why Chinese, right away? They could be Russian for all you know. They're still no different from the commission we know and plenty of ruthless crooks there too. *cough* Putin *cough*

Re: Around or on top of millitary bases? (0)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about 2 months ago | (#47814213)

Because the Chinese are the best bogeymen since the fall of the USSR. And with the Chinese having a robust economy, the US military industrial complex can keep debting away forever.

Re:Around or on top of millitary bases? (5, Insightful)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 2 months ago | (#47813775)

If they indeed are Chinese (or otherwise foreign) spy towers, and so easily detected (the authors of the article didn't seem to have a hard time finding such towers), there's something terribly, terribly wrong with your homeland security.

homeland security (wasRe:Around or on top of mill) (4, Insightful)

sowth (748135) | about 2 months ago | (#47814081)

If they...so easily detected...there's something terribly, terribly wrong with your homeland security.

And this is news....how? This is the same government which brought the TSA, and they are certainly useless.

Re:Around or on top of millitary bases? (1)

Imrik (148191) | about 2 months ago | (#47814501)

Not necessarily, they could have been allowed to make it easy to feed them false information.

Re:Around or on top of millitary bases? (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 months ago | (#47813793)

The article says ...

What we find suspicious is that a lot of these interceptors are right on top of U.S. military bases.

The summary says ...

Many of them are built around U.S. military bases.

Way to slant the summary to make it look like Chinese towers rather than our towers.

I do not think those statements mean different things. They could, but from what I know of cell towers all they could really know is that the tower is near the base, not if it was right on it or not. It's not like they were triangulating the signal or anything.

Re:Around or on top of millitary bases? (4, Informative)

Culture20 (968837) | about 2 months ago | (#47813869)

"right on top of" is an American English colloquialism meaning "really close by", usually in terms of a pursuit, but sometimes with stationary objects.

Re:Around or on top of millitary bases? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47814001)

Culture20 explaining cultural differences in language use. I love it!

owner (0)

mangamuscle (706696) | about 2 months ago | (#47813419)

No doubt the NSA owns at least half of them.

Re:owner (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47813459)

Probably.

But you know who else owns at least some of them? Drug smugglers (which includes the CIA). We've known for quite some time the best smugglers have been using their own networks to communicate, and have only been able to find a few of the towers.

owner (2)

AHuxley (892839) | about 2 months ago | (#47813747)

The price has dropped to city, state and federal budget level for some of the tower like products.
The problem is more people now understand just how their low cost cell phone works as a gps becon, text, photo, calls list and voice, voice print collector.
The costs for voice systems like this in Ireland, South America where mil only historically. Now any regional, city, gov with funding can have a go at years of "warrantless surveillance".
The only issue is the upgrade to next gen costs and keeping details away from press with local FOIA like requests for city and state budgets.
Forcing 2g only signal use was the old news, now the next gen is ready for todays cell users in real time (beyond location tracking).
As 2g is removed in a few years, the new warrantless cell surveillance products are been made ready.

A New Ghost In The Shell (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47813433)

Looks like an off-the-budget pet-project of NSA has been outed!

Where did the linked to article go? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47813437)

The linked to article has been taken down, it seems.

A google search for "Interceptors vary widely in expense and sophistication – but in a nutshell, they are radio-equipped" indicates that the article was published long enough for Google to scrape it.

Re:Where did the linked to article go? (2)

avgjoe62 (558860) | about 2 months ago | (#47813503)

The link above works fine for me. It links to a PopSci article. Here is the url [popsci.com] I get to.

Re:Where did the linked to article go? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47813539)

For some reason when following the link it comes up with " Oops! Something went wrong. Please scroll down to find your content. "
No article to be found

Re:Where did the linked to article go? (4, Funny)

PPH (736903) | about 2 months ago | (#47813581)

You're not trying to open this link on a phone near a military base, are you?

Re:Where did the linked to article go? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47813663)

Actually, the problem is an unconditional redirect for Australian readers of popsci.com popsci.com.au and the article does not exist on popsci.com.au.

Where did the linked to article go? (2)

AHuxley (892839) | about 2 months ago | (#47813677)

A few news sites and tech sites have:
"Android security mystery 'fake' cellphone towers found in U.S." (28 AUG 2014)
http://www.welivesecurity.com/... [welivesecurity.com]
Fake, phone-attacking cell-towers are all across America (Sep 1, 2014)
http://boingboing.net/2014/09/... [boingboing.net]
"The fake "interceptor" towers force your phone to back \\down to an easy-to-break 2G connection, then goes to work"
"..the baseband firewall on the Cryptophone set off alerts showing that the phones encryption had been turned off, and that the cell tower had no name a telltale sign of a rogue base station."
Fake cell phone towers may be spying on Americans calls, texts (September 03, 2014)
http://rt.com/usa/184636-fake-... [rt.com]

And he sells a solution! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47813461)

So, a guy who has developed a "secure" phone travels across the country and happens to find a widespread network of phony cell towers? Let's get a few of these phones together... say three to a location... and triangulate these devices down to the building/tower that they are mounted on.

I've got a rock that keeps tigers away if anyone's interested...

Re:And he sells a solution! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47813585)

It's not exactly much of a stretch. We've known about these things for years. As I stated above, we know that some criminal organizations (ie. drug smugglers) use them for secure communication. For several years on, it has been brought up at hacker conventions (and even demod to a live audience on how these could be use to hack into peoples' cell phones). Police essentially use this ("Stingray") to track people (with or without a warrant).

So...why is it so hard to believe someone would write some software to point out when their phone connects to one of these unauthorized towers? There's money to be made from it and it was only a matter of time.

Sponsored post (5, Interesting)

ourlovecanlastforeve (795111) | about 2 months ago | (#47813473)

It's a thinly veiled ad for a supposedly "secure" cell phone.

Re:Sponsored post (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47814057)

My thought exactly.

Clearly these towers were designed to find and (4, Funny)

jpellino (202698) | about 2 months ago | (#47813481)

intercept non-approved communications about kjhfgdt kans hwwpfu alowk nh ar akhde.

resist (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47813511)

I do hope a resistance movement springs up and these towers start to mysteriously explode as fast as they are built.

This does not bother me (4, Insightful)

eclectro (227083) | about 2 months ago | (#47813557)

The fact that these towers are found next to military bases speaks volumes.

The military needs to there own version of everything to make sure things work in times of national crisis, emergency, or security. They need to have their own infrastructure to insure communications. They need to control their communications around bases and know who is saying or doing what. They need to be able to anticipate attacks. Nobody should have any expectation of privacy on or next to a military base.

Quite frankly, I'm glad to see this.

Re:This does not bother me (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47813615)

and also test that their own systems can't be compromised by relatively off-the-shelf interception rogue cell phone towers

Re:This does not bother me (5, Insightful)

flayzernax (1060680) | about 2 months ago | (#47813633)

Uh, yeah, but the military can damn well make sure their hardware only interfaces with other military hardware, not your cell phone, and not prioritize your civilian traffic over their 'emergency, auxilary, or military channels'.

This is just more and more slippery goose shit for the sauce.

Re:This does not bother me (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about 2 months ago | (#47813645)

I'de like to also point out that these towers seem to be unsecure as more than the military agencies have accessed them. So you can't even be sure the military is to blame for them. It could very well be an illegal underground operation footed by the very very rich and powerful telecoms who know this technology oooh so well for many many nefarious reasons.

Re:This does not bother me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47813729)

I'de? Unsecure? Wtf Putin?

Re:This does not bother me (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 2 months ago | (#47813777)

Good for tracking protesters in any city :)

Re:This does not bother me (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47813661)

Nobody should have any expectation of privacy on or next to a military base.

The civilians living next to the military base expect the military to defend their freedom to expect privacy. Otherwise the military is not doing the job that the civilians are paying for. That is how civilized society functions, the military answers to civilian authority.

You are welcome to relocate to a military dictatorship if you want. There are plenty to choose from. Do not bother coming back.

Re:This does not bother me (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47813795)

Suck authoritarian cock much?

Re:This does not bother me (4, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 months ago | (#47813821)

The fact that these towers are found next to military bases speaks volumes.

The military needs to there own version of everything to make sure things work in times of national crisis, emergency, or security. They need to have their own infrastructure to insure communications. They need to control their communications around bases and know who is saying or doing what. They need to be able to anticipate attacks. Nobody should have any expectation of privacy on or next to a military base.

Quite frankly, I'm glad to see this.

Last time I checked, my constitutional rights didn't get suspended inside a casino in Las Vegas... did you miss that part? Many were on bases, but not all or even most. If the military wants to control their own communications they are welcome to start their own cellular network, they could even use these towers and then have their staff roam to other networks when they weren't near a base.

The only reason they are doing this is to intercept the calls of us citizens which is both illegal and unconstitutional. Your imaginary safety is not worth my constitutional rights. This sort of surveillance is exactly what the constitution was created to protect us from. It's not some weird esoteric thing the founders could never have anticipated like Machine guns or Abortions. This is the government listening in to the private correspondence of citizens for the sole purpose of security. That's expressly and unarguably forbidden legally, constitutionally and every other way you can think of.

Re:This does not bother me (2)

DutchUncle (826473) | about 2 months ago | (#47814095)

Maybe there are different things going on, like maybe the military bases have their own separately-powered communications that are sort of legitimate, and the interception near the casino is more on the shady side (with a supposedly good reason like "make sure nobody is using cellphones or video to cheat the casino").

I think you're overreacting to the threat from the government. I'm not worried about military surveillance around military bases, because I don't have to go driving near military bases (and besides, it's a clearly signed MILITARY BASE, of course they've got security); I'm more worried about PRIVATE surveillance from anybody who can afford one of these systems.

Re:This does not bother me (2)

American Patent Guy (653432) | about 2 months ago | (#47814401)

There is no U.S. constitutional right to privacy. This is particularly true where your communications are broadcast in the clear for the world to receive. (You do know that's what your cell phone does, right?)

In the U.S. your right to privacy, to the extent you have one, is granted by statute. Your constitutional right to be secure in your person keeps the government from reaching into your pocket, not from listening to your public ramblings.

If a policeman wants to stand on the corner listening to public conversations, he gets to. If you don't want the government listening to your conversations, the solution is for you to make them secure by means of having them in private rooms and/or with encryption (from both a legal and a technical standpoint). The government doesn't have to implement your fantasies...

Re:This does not bother me (2)

Feces's Edge (3801473) | about 2 months ago | (#47814487)

There is no U.S. constitutional right to privacy.

The government can only do what the constitution says it can. The constitution is not a list of rights that citizens have, but a list of powers that the government has. Therefore, there is a constitutional right to privacy unless explicitly stated otherwise.

This is particularly true where your communications are broadcast in the clear for the world to receive.

Oh, fuck off. I damn well expect the government to not listen to my communications. And say, "Well, it would be pretty easy to listen to your conversation!" doesn't mean that it's moral to do so. My conversation is between me and the person I'm talking to. It's not public just because it's transmitted in the clear, and people like you with a such a privacy-hostile mentality are the cause of things such as the TSA, the NSA's mass surveillance, and warrantless wiretapping in general.

If a policeman wants to stand on the corner listening to public conversations, he gets to.

Not if We The People say that that is not okay and punish the government if it does such things. We can place any limitation upon the government that we want.

Me too (0)

labradore (26729) | about 2 months ago | (#47813887)

I, for one, welcome our robot overlords. Too soon? They aren't robots yet?

I, for one, welcome our shadowy human overlords.

Re:This does not bother me (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47814227)

> Nobody should have any expectation of privacy on or next to a military base.

Sadly, your Executive & judicial branches define "next to" to be "within 100 miles" where rights exclusion zones are concerned.

http://rt.com/usa/court-upholds-laptop-border-searches-041/

Re:This does not bother me (0)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 2 months ago | (#47814621)

They need to control their communications around bases and know who is saying or doing what.

No they the hell do not. The US Military has, by law, no jurisdiction beyond the base's fence line.

Not towers (2)

VerdantHue (1154045) | about 2 months ago | (#47813627)

The article doesn't say they are towers. It says that, to phones, they look like towers. Presumably, to people, they don't look like towers.

Interceptors look to a typical phone like an ordinary tower. Once the phone connects with the interceptor, a variety of “over-the-air” attacks become possible, from eavesdropping on calls and texts to pushing spyware to the device.... Interceptors vary widely in expense and sophistication – but in a nutshell, they are radio-equipped computers with software that can use arcane cellular network protocols and defeat the onboard encryption.

Re:Not towers (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 2 months ago | (#47813721)

Except that the reason they place cell infrastructure on top of towers is not arbitrary. It is not like they can hide these "cell towers" 50 feet underground. Sure they could paint them blue, but they have to be high, and there are not really too many other ways of building something that is really high.

Not towers (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 2 months ago | (#47813823)

Small cell hardware can be offered some concealment as signs, trees, big cactus, wider flag poles, bell towers, thin onto brick walls or fake wood sidings, water towers, added rooftop enclosures, fake tinted glass, in a new chimney box, fake dormers, cupola.
It just depends on who is paying and what fits in with the surrounding area.

Military owned toweres (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47813675)

There are a number of positions in the military whose job is to put up or take down cell towers and any other telecommunications infrastructure at a moment's notice. They do it in warzones, on boats, on airplanes, at political rallies, during conventions and wargames. Is it so surprising that they keep permanent ones near or on their bases?

I would not be the slightest bit surprised to find half a dozen shady looking cell towers in a military base. Some soldiers shoot guns for a living, some fly drones, some pull cables, others do this.

Re:Military owned toweres (1)

Rosyna (80334) | about 2 months ago | (#47814229)

They are the new number stations!

"Phony" cell towers? (4, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 months ago | (#47813763)

Is this article some kind of joke I don't quite get?

It depends on your phone (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 2 months ago | (#47813983)

Cell towers are usually owned or shared by telco firms, brands, providers that try to encrypt their users and are kind of easy to spot with hardware.
The "Phony" cell towers do not respond or act in the same way. They are fake but still fool a users phone into making a network connection.
Tame consumer grade hardware is fooled into seeing just another cell tower.

Somewhat on topic. (4)

AbRASiON (589899) | about 2 months ago | (#47813771)

Can I just say,

From the mouths of ANYONE who isn't an American.
STOP FUCKING GEO-REDIRECTING LINKS FOR FOREIGNERS YOU ASSHOLES.

Jesus christ fuck me gently it's the worst god damned thing to do on any web page, I think it might actually be worse than "this content is not available in your region" - because at least it takes us (mostly) to what we wanted.

http://www.popsci.com/article/... [popsci.com]
takes me to
http://www.popsci.com.au/?src=... [popsci.com.au]

Thanks dipshits.

Re:Somewhat on topic. (2)

NoMaster (142776) | about 2 months ago | (#47813897)

Get around stupid geolocation redirects like that by using Google Translate as a proxy. Simply tell it to 'translate' the original URL from Arabic* to English.

(* or almost any language that doesn't use the Roman alphabet.)

Re:Somewhat on topic. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47814075)

it's a failure of the internet, it's mainly the upper white management

Re:Somewhat on topic. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47814133)

Redirected to "Tiny Shrimp Make Fish Vomit Fireworks" if you're Australian. *spiiitttt* ROTFL.

this might be another secret plan of #US govt. (1)

ltorvalds11 (3774511) | about 2 months ago | (#47813807)

this might be another secret plan of #US govt.

this might be another secret plan of #US govt. (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 2 months ago | (#47813937)

The other question is then what where telco teams and gov teams doing when they scan for allocated spectrum issues? Own tower, competitor networks, new interfering hardware to be located and that local 'fake' mobile tower should kind of show up on normal regional cell maintenance work. What do telco staff do? Just let the 'fake' mobile devices work alongside their own expensive networks 24/7 over years? Thats their brands network thats been used by some fake device...
Are new staff instructed only to worry about hardware and consumer grade issues? Fake networks are to be left alone and not explored?

Pico and Femto cells (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47813829)

In totally unrelated news: The US Military uses self signed certs on pico cells to provide service in rural bases to customers from different providers. Media Whoring "crypto-phone" company jumps to far fetched conclusions in advertising fodder..

Re:Pico and Femto cells (1)

ZosX (517789) | about 2 months ago | (#47814551)

OMG! LOGIC!

esd america's self promo for their $3500 crapto-ph (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47813839)

Detected "mystery towers" could be configuration glitches or SDR enthusiasts playing with OpenBTS. After the FCC was fooled into opening an investigation, said enthusiasts should now expect to be probed by the FBI.

centos 6 is good till 2020 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47813861)

ipv6 will probably be adopted before systemd, because debian decided togo kangaroo court and screw every linux dev in existence.
systemd is going to blow a few *REALLY* big things up you know how i know this?
i asked the windows guys.

Ta3o (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47813945)

= 36#400 FreeBSD [goat.cx]

All in all... (2)

GrahamCox (741991) | about 2 months ago | (#47814007)

...it's just another brick in the wall.

For some reason people aren't breaking out the hammers. It's as if they just don't care, or fail to understand the implications at least, of all this surveillance and monitoring.

There IS a simple answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47814097)

Of course the US military has cell towers on their own bases. They are using those to track calls made on base that might violate security. Why is a PFC or Airman calling China or Pakistan - why is a contractor sending large amounts of data to a dropbox account? Time for somebody to ask a few questions. You have no - zero - rights to disclose military information outside of channels. In addition by running their own towers they also have the power to shut them down - or jam outside towers during a national security incident.

The answer to the question is very simple when you use your thinking cap people.

spectrum is expensive (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | about 2 months ago | (#47814149)

so you mean to tell me that the telcos that spend millions, billions on spectrum licensing don't spot rogue basestations mooching on their frequency allocations ? Or were all of these in unlicensed spectrum ?

Re:spectrum is expensive (1)

MildlyTangy (3408549) | about 2 months ago | (#47814199)

so you mean to tell me that the telcos that spend millions, billions on spectrum licensing don't spot rogue basestations mooching on their frequency allocations ? Or were all of these in unlicensed spectrum ?

The telcos either
1) did spot them, quickly realise who it was and quickly shut up tighter than a Republican asshole, or
2) knew all along, and shut the fuck up tighter than the proverbial Republican, or
3) fuckn liberals

The Truth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47814287)

Every significant US Military base has a device that records every single phone call in and out and cell phones.

It stores the calls for a number of days.

Normally it just purges the old data as new calls are recorded.

But if something suspicious occurs the calls can be checked and saved.

Pretty much a airplane black box for telecommunications.

Calling a Bomb threat in to a US Military base is a REALLY bad idea, even with a burner cell phone outside the gate.

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