SS7 or Signaling System Number 7 is a protocol suite used by several telecommunications operators to communicate with one another with directing calls, texts, and Internet data. The SS7 protocol allows cell phone carriers to collect location data related to the user’s device from cell phone towers and share it with other carriers, this means that exploiting the SS7 a carrier is able to discover the position of its customer everywhere he is.
“The system was built decades ago, when only a few large carriers controlled the bulk of global phone traffic. Now thousands of companies use SS7 to provide services to billions of phones and other mobile devices, security experts say,” explains the post.
“All of these companies have access to the network and can send queries to other companies on the SS7 system, making the entire network more vulnerable to exploitation. Any one of these companies could share its access with others, including makers of surveillance systems.” continues the Washington post.
“What’s interesting about this story is not that the cell phone system can track your location worldwide,”“That makes sense; the system has to know where you are. What’s interesting about this story is that anyone can do it.” said the popular expert Bruce Schneier.
Privacy advocates are really concerned with possible misuse of such technology, foreign state-sponsored hackers and cyber criminals could use it for illegal activities. Let’s remember that it is illegal in many countries to track individuals without a court order, but there is no clear international legal framework that punishes ill intentioned for secretly tracking people in other countries.
The FCC recently created an internal task force to study the misuse of IMSI catchers in the cybercrime ecosystem and foreign intelligence agencies, which demonstrated that this technology could be used to spy on American citizens, businesses and diplomats.
Don’t forget that government to track us just need to type our phone number into a computer portal, which then collects data about our location, to within a few blocks in an urban area or a few miles in a rural one, from databases maintained by cellular carriers.
The brochure includes screenshots of maps depicting location tracking in what appears to be Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa, Brazil, Congo, the United Arab Emirates, Zimbabwe and several other countries. Verint says on its Web site that it is “a global leader in Actionable Intelligence solutions for customer engagement optimization, security intelligence, and fraud, risk, and compliance,” with clients in “more than 10,000 organizations in over 180 countries.”
(Security Affairs – Surveillance, privacy)