Friday, December 01, 2006

FBI Taps Cell Phone Mic to Eavesdrop


FBI taps cell phone mic as eavesdropping tool. The Declan McCullagh article at C|Net discusses a new technique which allows remotely activating any cell phone microphone to eavesdrop on any conversation within range of that phone. An opinion by District Judge Lewis Kaplan calls the technique a "roving bug" and it works whether the phone is turned on or off.

The bugging technique apparently requires judicial approval for surveillance for legal use and was employed in this case to listen in on powerful mafia leaders, but the fact that this bugging technique is possible suggests that hackers and other geeks would be able to work out the details and use the eavesdropping ability on any target for identity theft or other nefarious reasons.

Cell phone software which can be installed remotely is all that would be required - perhaps by calling a particular number or accessing a web site over the target handset - which could be initiated by text messages, emails or some pretexting method.

This bugging method was created by government spooks, possibly employing hackers for development and was meant to listen in on paranoid bad guys who avoided cell phone conversations and routinely sweep rooms for bugging devices. So now that they know about the FBI ability to listen from their cell phones, they may resort to removing their batteries at all times - which is the only way to disable the remote enabling of their cell phone microphone.

Assuming we completely trust the government and law enforcement to only use the "roving bug" with court ordered surveillance, what will the rest of us do to avoid bad guy hackers and identity thieves who work out how to turn on cell phone mics of their targets? Don't say your ATM pin as you key it in at the gas pump or at the bank, never say your credit card numbers and expiration date out loud within reach of your cell phone. Never speak your social security number, bank account numbers, driver license number, etc.

Technorati: Cell Phone Tap, surveillance, Privacy, roving bug


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posted by RealitySEO at 8:12 PM

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