The use of fake cellphone towers, known as Stingrays or IMSI catchers, plays well with the nation's spy agencies and in some police jurisdictions. The authorities just can't get enough of being able to locate or listen in on private phone calls! But when it comes to members of the government being surveilled, well that's a different story.
According to Ars Technica, the Feds are are pretty, pretty sure that their mobile phone calls are being monitored by Stingray hardware set up by bad dudes, but they have no idea of who those bad dudes might be, or how to stop them. In a letter brought to light by the Associated Press on Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security's National Protection and Programs Directorate hasn't got a clue of who's responsible for setting up the elicit Stingray hardware and hasn't got any ideas of how they might shut them down:
"NPPD is aware of anomalous activity outside the [National Capital Region] that appears to be consistent with IMSI catchers," Krebs also wrote. "NPPD has not validated or attributed this activity to specific entities or devices. However, NPPD has shared this information with Federal partners."
Maybe they should ask moose and squirrel a lead. I dunno.
Normally, I'd be worried about a foreign or domestic agency spying on the doings of one of the most powerful governments in the world. But the feeling that comes from hearing about the Feds getting a taste of their own medicine makes it really hard to focus on that.
Image via Pexels courtesy of Angele J
Stingrays (AKA IMSI catchers) are a widespread class of surveillance devices that target cellular phones by impersonating cellular towers to them (they're also called "cell-site simulators").
Stingrays were once the most secretive of surveillance technology: devices whose existence was so sensitive that the feds actually raided local cops and stole their crime files to stop them from being introduced in court and revealing the capability to spy on cellular phones.
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