EFF publishes an indispensable, plain-language guide to "cell-site simulators": the surveillance devices that track you via your phone

In 2012, the Wall Street Journal first reported on a mysterious cellphone surveillance tool being used by law-enforcement; years later, we learned that the origin of this report was an obsessive jailhouse lawyer who didn't believe that the cops had caught him the way they said they had. Read the rest

Hong Kong's #612strike uprising is alive to surveillance threats, but its countermeasures are woefully inadequate

The millions of Hong Kong people participating in the #612strike uprising are justifiably worried about state retaliation, given the violent crackdowns on earlier uprisings like the Umbrella Revolution and Occupy Central; they're also justifiably worried that they will be punished after the fact. Read the rest

Hong Kong's #612strike protest movement: a million strong, leaderless, wireless and smart as hell

Hong Kong's previous mass-protest uprisings -- 2014's Occupy Central, 2016's Umbrella Revolution -- were ultimately smashed by the state through a combination of violent suppression and electronic surveillance, greatly aided by the hierarchical structure of the protest movements (which made it possible to decapitate them by arresting their leaders) and their internal divisions and infighting. Read the rest

Major vulnerability in 5G means that anyone with $500 worth of gear can spy on a wide area's mobile activity

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"). Read the rest

EFF's first VR app trains you to spot surveillance devices in your community

Spot the Surveillance is the Electronic Frontier Foundation's first VR app: it's part of the organization's Street-Level Surveillance, which has tracked and resisted the spread of ubiquitous surveillance tools, from license-plate cameras to Stingrays and beyond. Read the rest

This year's Electromagnetic Field hacker campout demonstrated the awesome power of DIY cellphones and DIY stingrays

Every year, security researchers, hardware hackers and other deep geeks from around the world converge on an English nature reserve for Electromagnetic Field, a hacker campout where participants show off and discuss their research and creations. Read the rest

News crew discovers 40 cellphone-tracking devices operating around DC

An NBC investigative journalism team and a security researcher went wardriving around the DC area with a cell-site-simulator detector that would tell them whenever they came in range of a fake cellphone tower that tried to trick their phones into connecting to it in order to covertly track their locations (some cell site simulators can also hack phones to spy on SMS, calls and data). Read the rest

Canada's Mounties use a 6-year-old "interim policy" to justify warrantless mass surveillance

In 2016, Motherboard used public records requests to receive 3,000 pages of documents from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police detailing the federal police agency's longstanding secret use of IMSI Catchers (AKA "Stingrays" -- the fake cellular towers that silently capture data on every cellphone user in range). Read the rest

It's not hard to think of ways to outsmart Stingray-detector apps

A group of researchers from Oxford and TU Berlin will present their paper, White-Stingray: Evaluating IMSI Catchers Detection Applications at the Usenix Workshop on Offensive Technologies, demonstrating countermeasures that Stingray vendors could use to beat Stingrays and other "cell-site simulators" (AKA IMSI catchers). Read the rest

West coast jurisdictions advance community oversight of police surveillance

This summer, two of the west coast’s largest metropolitan areas—Seattle and California—took major steps to curtail secret, unilateral surveillance by local police. These victories for transparency and community control lend momentum toward sweeping reforms pending across California, as well as congressional efforts to curtail unchecked surveillance by federal authorities. Read the rest

Wardriving for Stingrays with rideshare cars

Well, there's a second-decade-of-the-21st-century headline for you! Read the rest

Feds admit they used secret anti-terror mass surveillance tool to catch an undocumented waiter

Rudy Carcamo-Carranza was an undocumented restaurant worker in Michigan wanted for a DUI and a hit-and-run; the FBI and ICE used IMSI catchers -- powerful, secretive cellphone tracking tools that the agencies bill as a kind of superweapon in the war on terror -- to catch him and put him up for deportation. Read the rest

Cyber-arms dealers offer to sell surveillance weapons to undercover Al Jazeera reporters posing as reps of South Sudan and Iran

Companies in the EU and China have been caught offering to commit fraud to launder sales of mass surveillance weapons to Al Jazeera reporters posing as representatives of autocratic regimes under sanction for gross human rights abuses; these weapons would allow their users to target and round up political dissidents for arbitrary detention, torture and murder. Read the rest

Stingray for criminals: spreading mobile malware with fake cellphone towers

Police who rely on vulnerabilities in crooks' devices are terminally compromised; the best way to protect crime-victims is to publicize and repair defects in systems, but every time a hole is patched, the cops lose a tool they rely on the attack their own adversaries. Read the rest

How Kenyan spies and cops use electronic surveillance for illegal murder and torture squads

Privacy International interviewed 57 sources for their report on the link between surveillance and torture and murder in Kenya, including 32 law enforcement, military or intelligence officers with direct firsthand knowledge of the programs. Read the rest

EFF is gathering data on illegal surveillance of Dakota Access Pipeline water protectors

During the Standing Rock confrontations, the Electronic Frontier Foundation got reports of police use of IMSI Catchers -- secretive surveillance devices used to gather data from nearby cellphones, often called Stingrays or Dirtboxes -- so it dispatched lawyers and technologists to monitor the situation, and filed 20 public records requests with law enforcement agencies. Read the rest

Virginia State cops have blown a fortune on useless cellphone spying gear

Muckrock has been sending Freedom of Information requests to state police forces to find out how they're using "cell-site simulators" (AKA IMSI catchers/Stingrays), and they hit the motherlode with the Virginia State Police. Read the rest

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