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CBS News program “60 Minutes” reported on how vulnerable cell phones are to hacking in a report filed Sunday.
Reporter Sharyn Alfonsi visited Security Research Labs in Berlin where she was greeted by Dr. Karsten Nohl, a specialist in computer engineering from the University of Virginia.
Nohl’s lab advises Fortune 500 companies on computer security but also tracks flaws in personal devices including smartphones, USB devices and SIM cards. The German hacker told Alfonsi that “all phones are the same” in terms of their vulnerability to hacking, regardless of whether or not it’s an iPhone or Android.
“[We can] Track their whereabouts, know where they go for work. You can spy on whom they call and what they say over the phone,” Nohl said. “And you can read their texts.”
For a demonstration, the “60 Minutes” crew gave an iPhone to Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., back in New York with the understanding that it would be hacked.
When Alfonsi called Lieu from Berlin, Nohl’s lab was able to listen in on their conversation immediately by exposing a flaw in Signaling System 7, or SS7, necessary for all mobile devices to make calls and texts.
Nohl also demonstrated how he was able to track the congressman’s movements, whether or not his location services was turned on.
“The mobile network independent from the little GPS chip in your phone, knows where you are,” Nohl said. “So any choices that a congressman could’ve made, choosing a phone, choosing a pin number, installing or not installing certain apps, have no influence over what we are showing because this is targeting the mobile network. That of course, is not controlled by any one customer.”
Lieu, who sits on the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Information Technology, was troubled by how easily the phone was hacked.
“First, it’s really creepy,” Lieu said. “And second, it makes me angry.”
“They could hear any call of pretty much anyone who has a smartphone … Last year, the president of the United States called me on my cellphone. And we discussed some issues. So if the hackers were listening in, they would know that phone conversation. And that’s immensely troubling,” he added.
Click here to watch the full report from CBS.
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H/T: The Hill