Feeds

US Justice Department free to track mobile phone users

If you have nothing to hide...

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The American Civil Liberties Union has revealed that the FBI no longer feels the need for judicial or operator oversight when deploying base station-faking technology to detect mobile phones.

This capability is nothing new, but previously it was assumed that a warrant was needed before the FBI started tracking phones and that the network operator would need to be informed. These are optimistic assumptions in this age of fear embodied in the USA's Patriot* Act, as shown in the documents obtained by the ACLU. Instead the FBI just gets a pen-trap order, granted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and Bob's your uncle.

The technology, known as Triggerfish, pretends to be a base station so that mobile handsets happily connect to it and identify themselves. A Triggerfish deployment can wait for a specific handset to pass by, or just grab nearby identities for later analysis.

When the GSM security model was created there was no attempt to confirm the identity of the base station - it never occurred to the designers that fake base stations would exist so all the authentication is one-way. Worse still, while the IMSI (unique to the subscriber) is not supposed to be sent over the network, the standard allows a base station to claim to have "lost" the corresponding TMSI (temporary equivalent) and thus ask the handset to resend the IMSI in the clear.

Setting up fake base stations is pretty rare, but clearly the US authorities aren't alone in doing it, which is why the 3G GSM standard requires base stations to authenticate themselves too - making Triggerfish once again inoperable without network operator collusion, at least where 3G is being used by default. ®

*Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001, since you ask.

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.