Thursday, January 01, 2015

are they listening to you


Motherboard | ​Are the police tracking you with a fake cell phone tower? Maybe! Probably, even. But, until now, there was absolutely no way of knowing if your phone was automatically connecting to a so-called "Stingray" or other location tracker. Finally, there's an app that is supposedly able to detect the tools police use to track people en masse.
Law enforcement all around the world have been using International Mobile Subscriber Identity catchers, popularly known by the most popular brand name, Stingray, for several years now to track criminal suspects, all the while snatching up the location data of everyone in a geographical radius. Their use is highly controversial because, due to the nature of the way they work—by posing as a cell phone tower and routing cell connection traffic through the device to actual cell phone towers—it's impossible to avoid snatching up the data of innocent bystanders.
Because of this limitation, their use is illegal in some countries and has been ruled unconstitutional in several states (most recently in Florida).
Beyond that, we generally have no idea where the hell law enforcement is actually using them. Thanks to a combination of Freedom of Information Act requests, court cases in which evidence from IMSI catchers were used, media reports, and information leaks, we now know that at least 12 federal agencies and 19 states use Stingrays, but we have no idea when they're used, the parameters for when they can be used, and where, specifically, they are used. As for the other 31 states? We have no idea.
That's all a long way of saying that the introduction of SnoopSnitch, an app that can detect the use of IMSI catchers in real time is long, long overdue and extremely welcome. The app was announced and released at the Chaos Computer Congress conference this weekend by SRLabs, a team of German security experts led by Alex Senier, Karsten Nohl, and Tobias Engel.
"Your every movement can be tracked all over the world," Engel said. "You, as the subscriber, cannot do anything. You can tell your operator to take action, or you can throw away the phone, but you can't do anything because it's happening at a network level."