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Phony Cellphone Towers Could Be Intercepting Your Calls

According to a report from Popular Science, at least 17 fake cellphone towers are intercepting cellphone communications across the U.S.
Posted at 12:18 PM, Sep 04, 2014

And the tech world brings us some more potentially creepy news about digital privacy and security.

FOX NEWS: "Are mysterious fake cellphone towers tapping your phone? A new report says 17 of these fake towers have been found across the United States."

According to that report from Popular Science, no one knows where these imposter towers came from or who owns them. But they're apparently scattered throughout the U.S. and intercepting the communications of any cellphone in signal range, including calls and text messages.

The outlet spoke to Les Goldsmith, the CEO of technology security company ESD America, who says he discovered at least 17 fake towers in July by using the CryptoPhone 500, a secure Android mobile device created by his company. And he claims there could be more.

So who owns these mysterious towers? What are they trying to intercept, and why?

The whole thing could just be a sneaky marketing ploy for ESD and its CryptoPhone, as many skeptics, including Gawker, suggest.

Cloud security firm SilverSky's chief technology officer told VentureBeat he knows who isn't responsible — the NSA. "The NSA doesn't need a fake tower. They can just go to the carrier to tap your line."

Several of the towers were apparently located near U.S. military bases, which could mean they belong to law enforcement agencies or the military itself.

WeLiveSecurity says we shouldn't assume these towers are the big, static structures we're used to seeing.

Instead, the outlet says it's more likely they're "mobile installations of the kind used not only by law enforcement and government agencies, but also by scammers and other criminals."

But attacks on phones aren't for beginners. Hacking the chips inside the devices is considered extremely technically advanced.

And interceptors like these reported towers can cost thousands of dollars. This VME Dominator, for example, reportedly has a price tag of $100,000.

Goldsmith didn't say what types of devices he detected. But regardless, ComputerWorld says you might be able to tell if your phone is being intercepted if it suddenly crashes from 4G to 2G.