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Unfortunatly when used as a bug this "throw away" audio is usually the stuff you realy want to hear. ALso some phones with "noise canceling mics" are likewise not very good when it comes to bugging for similar reasons On the subject of phone tapping Matt Blaze gave a talk up at Stanford on just this subject back in March this year as a follow up to his paper,.
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It is certainly worth a read as you might be realy surprised who can legaly own and operate wire tap equipment in the US 18 USC 2 b and just how cheaply it can be obtained. If you go looking on the Internet for "wire tap" equipment you might find the expression "Telephone loop extenders" will get you more reliable information both illegal and legal. Back many years ago in the UK such equipment was refered to as a "pole job" because it was usually put up the top of the telegraph pole by a General Post Office squirrel , however few people are old enough to either remeber or talk about such things these days The legal bods all moved over to the central exchange where it was "warm and cosey" and no "interested parties" hanging around.
In later years "pole job" also refered to a piece of very illegal equipment that you would put in the "equipment room" of a block of "flats" where all the telephone pairs where available. Basically it bridged many pairs and had a control pair. If you lifted the handset on the control pair it would find a vacant line and switch it over to you so you could make calls at other peoples expense. The equipment is supprisingly easy to make, and it was also quite easy to add features that indicated the "real owner" of the line had picked up as well as faking a dial tone followed by a busy signal to them after they had dialed a couple of digits.
As others have said, no need to hypothesize. You might call this as much a feature as a "bug", depending on your perspective. Eventually, if not now, people will have a need for monitoring the software config and traffic for their mobile devices. And the more data stored on the server back to your theory of removing the assets from remote devices with constant connectivity, the more users can simply hard-reset their device at a moment's notice to destroy bugs without losing their contacts, calendar, etc.
Even just walking by an FM radio, cable television, or most electronic communication devices will start giving audible noise-clicks. For good measure any type of carry-on electronic device cell, calculators, watches, pens should be left at the door before entering "private" areas.
Usually anything said in these areas shouldn't be written down in the first place so justifying an electronic device would be really difficult and really draw suspicion. There are things you can do to reduce the posibility but the answer would still be the same. When I worked at the University during the '90's there was a move to 'privatize' a bunch of civil service positions.
The civil service staff were understandably concerned. The University boardroom contained a projection screen, with a computer intended for showing Powerpoint presentations. Some folks I know wrote a tiny, simple program that captured the audio from the built-in microphone and sent the packets over the campus network to our desktop systems. Under the guise of a tech support call they installed it on the boardroom projection PC.
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We could then sit at our desks and listen to what was going on in the boardroom, regarding the privatization or whatever, at any time. I suspect the very same little eavesdropping program would work on my MDA. Fortunately I don't have anything to worry about from overzealous law enforcement, because I've never done anything wrong. Aside from the software bugs just wait until your car navigation runs Java , and hardware bugs, which spy-types have been doing for years, there are also secondary ways of listening to things. Ordinary objects become transducers in the presence of sound waves.
Sound waves vibrate air and the air vibrates anything it hits correspondingly. While building walls are difficult to listen to, glass isn't. The microphone in your mobile phone works on this principle: when you speak, it generates an electrical waveform corresponding to the sounds you make.
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Between radar, sonar and eavesdropping, engineers and scientists have been working on the technology to use these transducers for a long time. Between low-noise amplifiers and technology to pick one signal out of noise from another, there's a lot that you can do with some well-designed circuits and a directional pick-up. C'mon guys! A phone has a And an antena Securing a cellie is a reaserch project in itself.
A wise note. This gives us an idea of which phone most probably does not come bundled with some preinstalled backdoor. On an almost unrelated note, Mr Schneier, the man who discovered that a backdoor in a switch was utilized has died in a "tragic accident".
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How new do phones have to be in order for the phone mic to be remotely turned on to eavesdrop on conversations near the phone? This is one good reason to use old equipment, if all it is for is to receive and make calls, no camera or other fancy stuff. About as probable as the death of Ken Lay during the window between conviction and sentencing, resulting in automatic abatement and thereby saving his estate millions of dollars otherwise forfeit.
That's why I've carefully avoided becoming wealthy - I'd hate to find out the hard way that I was worth more dead than alive So cell phones aren't secure. Is that news? What, do we need legislation to protect us? What good will legislation do when a criminals don't care about legislation and b governments can and will insert clauses allowing them to bypass legislation. You have to take care of yourself in this world. Considering the federal government in the U. After delivering and installing some Trojan via an unauthorised service SMS they claimed to be able to have a remote access to the handset including listening to conversations, copying contacts etc.
And no I have no connection to the company other than one of it's founders used to be the MD of a company I worked for. From a software perspective this is extremely easy. However inbuilt OS security in all of the mobile OSs I know mean the chances of such malicious code being installed by a 3rd party is extremely small. That said it is very easy for the network opperator to silently install whatever they want over the network.
Given how they rolled over for the previous federal wiretapping scandle nothing would surprised me Sprint started supporting FOTA right after my departure so I can only guess at what the process looks like from the user's end, but I imagine that even a normal update with modal progress dialog would be dismissed as "just another update or something. Mobile phones are major security and privacy holes, and things will get much worse before they get better. I discussed this with a colleague who was once in cellular customer service.
Remember car phones? I'm talking about cellular phones permanently installed in vehicles. Some of them were manufactured and installed with an "auto-answer" feature that was meant to be safer and more convenient for a driver. But at least one model had a disconcerting problem: it would answer a call without ringing.
In at least one case, a subscriber called customer service complaining that he was caught in some unauthorized extra-marital activity, because "that blankety-blank phone answered on it's own. So, what we need is a clamshell holster for mobile phones with electromagnetic shielding all around, good quality acoustic insulation to attenuate voice leakage, and an internal device situated right at the phone's microphone pickup that feeds it a random electronic yodel? Did I miss anything? Supposedly a "suicide by hanging", but suspicious remarks were made before his death.
Roy: Yes. You forgot the easiest way to eavesdrop: 1. Wait for your target to walk by you while he talks on his cellphone. Listen :. Roy I would rather prefere to see the spread of an open source cellphone platform s , like qtopia, tuxphone, openmoko etc. Exactly, but a very familiar problem everyone's favorite OS is more likely to repeat than not with a proprietary network.
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Are consumers demanding an open phone, or a service that makes it easy to separate client from the target see my comment above -- imagine phones designed to not be tied directly to an owner. Ironically, the limitations of the mobile platform could help reduce the complexities and thus enable exposure of vulnerabilities, but instead they might also be a perfect excuse for shortcuts and control gaps driven by "market" forces.
I read the actual evidence referenced by the original story and didn't see any evidence to support the article's claims. In fact, it seems clear to me that some other kind of equipment must have been used in this case, because the opinion talks about it working even when the cellphone was turned off.
Remotely Eavesdropping on Cell Phone Microphones
I don't believe any cellphone out there can run a program while turned off or do anything else, much less transmit, without hardare hacking. Therefore, contrary to the article, it must've involved a physical hack of the cellphone such the transmitting battery suggested earlier in the thread. The original article also implies that a "roving bug" mentioned in the legal documents is the technique for turning cellphones remotely into bugs.