Prove cellphone hacking is a threat!
November 29, 2011 10:35 PM   Subscribe

Find true-life things that could make me paranoid that my cell phone could be hacked to spy on me.

There are two that I vaguely remember but now I can't find again.

One was there was a case of a government, I think in the middle-east, pushing a firmware update to cell phones that had some kind of Trojan horse in it.

Another was a video of someone demonstrating at a security conference how to spoof a cell-phone tower.

Bonus points if you can re-find those two stories I mentioned, but I'd like to hear anything along those lines.
posted by RobotHero to Technology (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
If nothing else most new phones are gps trackers as well. The iPhone tracking thing was kind of eye opening.
posted by doctor_negative at 10:43 PM on November 29, 2011

I have to go to work so I don't have enough time to track this down, but I recall a story concerning a target in the middle east, either military or terrorist, whose phone the CIA programmed to turn on without his knowledge so they could track his car and drop a bomb on it. Anyone know enough details to find this?
posted by fearnothing at 10:44 PM on November 29, 2011

Best answer: Hacker Spoofs Cell Phone Tower to Intercept Calls

Looking for the other one, but Wired's Threat Level & Danger Room blogs are always a good start.
posted by sharkfu at 10:47 PM on November 29, 2011

With the other one, was it regarding various governments requesting access to Blackberry servers? At the very least, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and India had various security negotiations with RIM on blackberry server access. I believe the discussion with India came after the Mumbai attacks, in which the attackers were supposedly being directed via their Blackberries.
posted by sharkfu at 10:56 PM on November 29, 2011

You probably don't need to have your cell phone hacked.

Depending on where you are, your carrier already keeps a copy of all the smses you send and received, they record your location too, who calls you, who you called, which websites you visited.

And now they can also read the contents of your phone. Enjoy!
posted by devnull at 11:24 PM on November 29, 2011

Best answer: In 2006, it was revealed that the FBI has the ability to remotely activate your phone's microphone in order to eavesdrop on nearby conversations, in some cases even if the phone is powered off.
posted by twirlip at 11:26 PM on November 29, 2011

Best answer: Remote surveillance of cellphone microphones. Apparently, law enforcement has been doing this for years. Bruce Schneier reported on the state of the art five years ago and smartphones make this even easier. Search on Schneier's blog to find more of this stuff.

If you want to get really paranoid about it, think of a smartphone as basically an ideal spying device -- it has a camera (often two cameras!), microphone, GPS, and compass (with optional gyroscope), plus numerous networking capabilities. It's a potential goldmine of intelligence information, even better than being your mark's lover or best friend. And people happily carry them around at all times. It's only a matter of time before security becomes a serious issue, if it isn't already. (Add a little data mining, and everyone's a mark.)
posted by neckro23 at 11:28 PM on November 29, 2011

Best answer: "You may not realize that walking around with Bluetooth enabled on your cell phone leaves you vulnerable to hackers." See also this Wired article from 2004.
posted by twirlip at 11:35 PM on November 29, 2011

Your cellphone can definitely be hacked to track you, either by carriers or even by someone installing spyware on your phone in person. It's probably unlikely. Someone would need a lot of technical expertise to do it personally, and it's unlikely that the government or corporations are recording a dossier on your locations... but it's theoretically possible.
posted by delmoi at 1:36 AM on November 30, 2011

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