Stingrays shatter America's sleazy spy setups
05 April 2018
In the most powerful national capital, residents including diplomats from around the globe, top American government and military officials and global business leaders could expect a secure environment.
But the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that it found what appear to be unauthorized cell-site simulators, also known as Stingrays, in Washington DC last year. It also confirmed that it is not only the federal and local law enforcement officials who can crack into your mobile phone – even foreign spy agencies and adversaries are perhaps involved in the travesty that shatters America’s claim of being an open and free democracy.
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden had earlier asked the DHS whether it had found foreign governments using such devices in the national capital region and elsewhere.
While the DHS could not validate or attribute such activity to specific entities or devices, it noted that ‘anomalous activity,’ thanks to the use of so-called stingrays, were apparent. Foreign spies or even criminals could have deployed the devices, and the DHS is still not sure who else is using them.
The government department admitted that such devices posed a growing security risk.
Of course, US government agencies have secretly deployed the technology to track criminals and have been using it for years. the American Civil Liberties Union claims it is misused widely in the US with nearly 75 agencies deploying the stingrays.
The international mobile subscriber identity catcher (IMSI), as the stingray is officially known, are surveillance devices mimicking mobile phone towers that "work by tricking mobile devices into pinging a signal off of them instead of a cell tower. The device then holds onto that signal and gives users access to where that phone is located," Endgagdget reported.
In 2014, security-focused firms conducted public sweeps in Washington, to spot cell-site simulators near government buildings like the White House, the Pentagon and the Supreme Court.
Aaron Turner, president of consulting company Integricell, was a part of those sweeps and told the AP that every embassy "worth their salt" has this type of device,the report added.