A few weeks back, Popular Science posted an article about phony cell towers being outed all over the country by some of the new, supposedly “ultra-secure” cell phones that have come out in the last few years following former NSA Contractor Edward Snowden’s leaks about the government spying on everyone.
These towers look like any ordinary cell phone tower, but are not officially connected to any cell phone company. Once in the vicinity of one of these fake towers, a multitude of different attacks can hit a user’s phone, including everything from spyware uploads to eavesdropping.
“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 [in the vicinity of] 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.”
Now, the Washington Times is reporting that not just one, but several of these towers have been located in D.C. around the capitol, so you can just take a big fat guess on who the phony towers are targeting.
These are just the towers that have been found, some two dozen so far. While some are stationary, these rogue towers can also apparently be portable and as small as a brief case. Wired reported, “The reach of a rogue tower can be up to a mile away, forcing thousands of phones in a region to connect to it without anyone knowing.” Think of the ramifications.
Sadly, when WT also interviewed ESD America CEO Les Goldsmith on the matter, Goldsmith told the outlet that he doesn’t think it’s the American government doing it because, “the federal government already has the capability of tapping directly into the carriers.”
That’s right. Who could forget.
But then again, we shouldn’t make assumptions about where the use of this technology — potentially by multiple players in both the public and private spheres — begins and ends.
A case in Florida revealed the use of StingRay, one form of these cell phone interceptors, by law enforcement. As Aaron Dykes of Truthstream Media reported last June, police departments are using hush hush surveillance technology, apparently with training and even direct supervision by the FBI, that can sweep up phone data from an entire neighborhood at once:
According to the Associated Press, the Obama Administration has been actively advising police departments to refuse disclosure about certain cell phone surveillance technologies, including the widely used “StingRay” device, even in routine state records requests.
Evidently, the StingRay technology allows law enforcement to “trick” cell devices into sharing identifying personal and location data with them that would ordinary be sent to communications companies and require request procedures.
Instead, police are bypassing company assistance and collecting unique information on suspects, persons of interests, and – as the AP reports – they can even “sweep up basic cellphone data from entire neighborhoods,” all without any court orders or oversight.
From what is currently known about these phony phone towers, Les Goldsmith is pointing to a foreign entity as the operators doing this. While this information has been passed to the FCC, is anything going to be done about it?
Wired reported that the agency is actually assembling a task force to deal with this issue. In the meantime, I guess we can all just have fun with getting spied on and having our phone’s data stolen and spyware forced onto it everywhere we go.
Then again, considering what Goldsmith pointed out — essentially that we’re already being directly spied upon by our government all the time anyway directly through the carriers — will anyone in officialdom even pretend to care that phony, malicious spy devices are popping up all over the country?
But we live in such a matrix, it’s sad to the point of laughable that while these fake towers are actively spying on Capitol Hill and the deep inner workings of our government, if you or I as an individual go there to take a picture of some of those famous landmarks with our cameras, we might just get stopped and questioned about what business we have snapping a photo.
You know, as a matter of national security.
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