Mysterious alien cell towers called ‘Interceptors’ snooping on US citizens pinpointed

All of the mysterious cell phone towers in the U.S. can now be pinpointed and most of them dont belong to US government says Les Goldsmith, the CEO of ESD America. He made this observations while launching a real-time service called Overwatch to pinpoint these interceptors.

Goldsmith said that ESD America was the only company which had systems in place to locate these private spy towers. The towers are called IMSI catchers, for the International Mobile Subscriber Identity that is attached to every cell phone. They mimic legitimate cell towers and reroute nearby cell transmissions through them. But they’re not phone company equipment. ESD said it discovered the IMSI catchers in the course of testing the company’s military-grade secure Cryptophone 500 cell phone.

ESD found 17 towers initially across the US and now the figure had jumped up to 54. Goldsmith said that the interceptors could be a listening/call-handling box. Surprisingly ESD discovered more than a dozen interceptors near the U.S. Senate and White House.

While it was speculated that these interceptors belonged to NSA and its sister agencies, Goldsmith is quick to rubbish this possibility. He says NSA has enough muscle to directly tap into the phone calls instead of erecting these innocuous towers.

Asked about whether these Interceptors were made in the United States, “We believe a majority of them are non-U.S. government,” he told VentureBeat “Looking at the types, the sophistication, [there are] more foreign than domestic.” The largest percentage uses open source OpenBTS, he said, suggesting they are laptop devices used by a hobbyist.

“If you are U.S. [government], you use U.S.-made,” he said, because it is reliable technology. He added that U.S. technology for IMSI catchers shouldn’t be exportable, under International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).

ESD says it will offer its new interceptor-catching service only to the U.S. government, and to other governments “strictly allied” with the U.S. When it was pointed out to Goldsmith that the ESD website promoting the new service doesn’t mention that, he told me it would be added.

“We want the government to be able to catch” those setting up these towers, he said. If the U.S. and friendly governments don’t want the service, Goldsmith said, “we won’t supply it.” Goldsmith states that at least 14 foreign governments have evinced interest in the ESD’s services.

The interceptor hunting is conducted with ESD-built, briefcase-sized sensing devices that the company deploys in an area. The tech sets up a “firewall” that monitors connections to cell towers from ESD devices. Goldsmith said the service doesn’t monitor individual messages.

Goldsmith said that these interceptors can be detected with Samsung Galaxy S3, S4, or S5 smartphones which have to be modified to detect and report back the interceptors’ locations. Cryptophones can also detect the IMSI catchers, but they are not designed to report back the data.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced an investigation into the unauthorized use of IMSI catchers.

Resource : VentureBeat.

1 COMMENT

  1. SnoopSnitch is a good program available on the Play Store that will detect an IMSI catcher. It only runs on phones with Qualcom chips.

    The Harris Corporation makes these devices as well, they are commonly called Sting Rays and law enforcement has been known to use them on a mobile basis

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