One of the top security concerns is unintended, network connections. This could be via cellular connection, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and so on. An unintended cellular connection is quite rare and not thus common since the cellular network is designed in such a way that they are programmed into the phone from the manufacturer or carrier and often updated in time.
Yet, that does not leave the people in the bush laid back. There is a technique known as tower spoofing that sets up an environment with special equipment, that acts like the carrier’s tower and infrastructure, and the intended or other cell devices connect to this equipment rather than the original tower.
This requires massive power to override the nearest cell tower’s signal, making the cellular device pick up this signal instead since the cellular device will look for the signal that is high in strength. With this equipment, you can easily tap into any conversation, even if the signal is encrypted. There are cases in, which this equipment enables/disables the device’s encryption and deploys malware, and installs it automatically while you are busy conversing with the other person.
This is not only used by hackers but also the official law enforcement as well and has been used worldwide. There have been several cases in the court highlighting the media questionnaire regarding the admissibility of evidence obtained from a cellular signal interception. There are reports that federal, state, and local law enforcement uses the device known as “Stingray” which is used to intercept a suspect’s cell traffic using the same tower spoofing techniques. There are also more advanced devices out there, which can go airborne, such as the “Dirtbox”.
Although this news covering the use of the device “stingray” cover the topics focused on U.S law enforcement agencies, anywhere in the world can use this technique and others, to set up malicious cellular, and Wi-Fi networks run by various businesses, governments, and organized crime in the world. Always look out for unintended WiFi or Bluetooth pairing as well. If they are always turned on and do not ask for your permission, they can connect and steal your sensitive data and use it against you.
Always configure your mobile device in such a way that they do not automatically connect to any unknown WiFi networks or Bluetooth devices. This will always require you to manually connect to a trusted network and pair Bluetooth devices, but worth the time if you suspect you are living in a network risky area. If you need to configure such settings for a large number of devices, you can do so by using Mobile Device Management (MDM) software.