Cellphone as a Tool in Surveillance

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 @ 12:08 PM gHale

Yes, there is concern about the NSA and its eavesdropping ways in the U.S., but take it beyond that and simply look at the surveillance technology industry. It is thriving.

The companies that create surveillance solutions for law enforcement and intelligence agencies said they vet the organizations purchasing their equipment. The real question is how hard would it be for someone to purchase the tools?

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Among these tools are those that take advantage of the system that allows cellular networks to exchange records about users in order to provide adequate cellular service wherever they are, and use it to pinpoint the target’s location (past and present).

That global network, called SS7, is vulnerable, researchers said.

The SS7 system came into existence decades ago, when only a few large carriers controlled the bulk of global phone traffic. Now thousands of companies use SS7 to provide services to billions of phones and other mobile devices, according to a report in The Washington Post.

All of these companies have access to the network and can send queries to other companies on the SS7 system, making the entire network more vulnerable to exploitation. Any one of these companies could share its access with others, including makers of surveillance systems, the report said.

There are carriers that cannot refuse a request for access from their government, you can see how governments that have not yet developed similar surveillance systems could easily acquire pertinent information, the report said.

According to a source within the industry, dozens of countries have bought or leased this surveillance technology in the last few years.

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