A man is strolling thru the park one day talking on his cell phone and passes by two guys, one is sitting there with his laptop open working on it, the other seems to be doing something on his cell phone. He never imagined that they just intercepted his call and downloaded all of his text messages and list of calls he had made on his cell phone. Sounds like a scene from a spy movie, right? In this case we are talking about reality. The two guys sitting there are security researchers in the United Kingdom that discovered a cheap and relatively simple way of intercepting mobile calls from GSM phones.
They have been looking at GSM technology for a while, and found it to be pretty much outdated in every aspect of security and privacy. The Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) is one of the cellular phone technologies used in billions if handsets around the world but is used predominantly in Europe. Most of it was developed in the 1980’s and is now vulnerable to 21st century hackers. Mobile calls normally are supposed to remain private due to digital encryption and because base stations rapidly change the way they identify a particular handset. These two men managed to reverse engineer the mathematical algorithm behind the encryption process and used it to decode voice calls with a laptop.
The pair set up a demonstration for the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), in which they showed how to locate a handset, track its movements from a distance of more than 500m and steal copies of all the calls made on the phone. Both men said they do not plan to release their eavesdropping tools, but warned that it was only a matter of time before someone else re-created what they had done. This could lead to a new level of crime and privacy invasion where criminals and snoopers travel around scooping up interesting conversations, messages and maybe even pictures taken on your phone. We’re not talking about teenagers in their bedrooms; its organized crime, malicious journalists and blackmailers.