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Community Champion

The Evolution of Technical Eavesdropping

You are a world traveler. You are tech savoy. Your IT and CI people are sharp. They provide you with a "burner phone" to travel with. Passing through international customs is no big deal right? Think again. That is precisely where you get tagged for in-country surveillance. Are you safe? Who's listening?

 

There are a number of possible methods that intelligence agencies or sophisticated corporate competitors can take to install spyware on burner phones for the purposes of eavesdropping:

 

  • Malicious carrier updates
  • Radio frequency (RF) hacking
  • Physical installation by customs agents
  • Fake cell towers
  • Infections via hotel WiFi
  • Evil maid attacks

We need to rethink how we use phones in country in those meetings where we are making big deals. Here are a few tips:

 

  • Invest in an anti-surveillance case for the burner phone that masks the surrounding audio in the vicinity of the phone, preventing spies listening on the other end from gaining any meaningful information.
  • Purchase a burner phone that features a hardware kill switch for shutting off the microphones when not needed.
  • If telephone calls aren’t necessary, physically disconnect the microphones within the burner phone

The theft of files and emails at the hands of foreign agents gets all the attention, but face-to-face conversations in the presence of a compromised smartphone can reveal information that’s just as valuable. It’s important for security teams to recognize this emerging threat and take the proper precautions.

1 Reply
Highlighted
Community Champion

Re: The Evolution of Technical Eavesdropping

@AppDefectsI have to fully endorse what you have stated, even in Western Samoa, they have an economy based on mobile phones and transferring money - and yes fake mobile cell towers have been set up for example and also in other Pacific Islands in the region.  A mobile phone is such a utilitarian device these days, everyone forgets it also a carrier of malware, a tracking device and full of embedded electronics - which as you stated can be turned into a passive listening device, where ever you are.

 

Then add the convenient apps people download as well like WhatsApp and they expect some privacy and security - hmmm I don't think so.  I particularly like the statement on the web site, Security is in our DNA - but who owns it?  Yes, you all know.  There are far better applications for this like "Signal", but even these are not NATO rated.

 

Other devices to watch out for the Smartwatches and any other convenient nice looking smart ware that adorns a lot of peoples bodies.  

 

Regards

 

Caute_cautim