The WSJ revealed that the US authorities coordinated by the Department of Justice has been using airplanes to collect Americans’ cell phone data

A new secret U.S. surveillance program was disclosed in a Wall Street Journal’s report, the post published by the popular media agency reveals the use of bogus cell phone towers installed in airplanes to scan Americans’ cell phones and syphon their data.

The attack scheme is simple as effective, the tower signals are used to trick phones to automatically switch over to its signal. The technique is not new, law enforcement has already adopted this technology to spy on cellphoneStingRay is the name used to identify mobile units that are able to track users’ mobile devices.

“The boxes used by the program allow planes to pose as the nearest cell phone tower, which prompts cell phones under surveillance to disclose their location and identity information, even if a legitimate tower is closer than the plane overhead. The dirtboxes also have the ability to interrupt calls, though officials have reportedly tried to mitigate the harmful consequences of that function.” reported the Business Insider.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the technique was adopted by US law enforcement, the Justice Department used it to collect huge amount of data to use in its investigations.

Security and privacy experts are contrary to this “insanely broad airplane data dragnet” because it affects people all over the country.

w1

The program started in 2007 and U.S. Marshals used different aircrafts equipped with the spying technology, also referred as dirtboxes, to spy data from individuals on the entire US soil.

“The U.S. Marshals Service program, which became fully functional around 2007, operates Cessna aircraft from at least five metropolitan-area airports, with a flying range covering most of the U.S. population, according to people familiar with the program.

Planes are equipped with devices—some known as “dirtboxes” to law-enforcement officials because of the initials of the Boeing Co. unit that produces them—which mimic cell towers of large telecommunications firms and trick cellphones into reporting their unique registration information.”

The technology allows law enforcement to steal data from tens of thousands of cellphones in a single flight, collecting their identifying information and general location.

The case is making a lot of noise in the public opinion, another secret surveillance program is threatening US citizens. Recently another news raised many concerns in the security communities about the discovery of a series of bogus cell phone towers in the US used by unknowns for surveillance purpose.

In time I’m writing, The Justice Department hasn’t commented the news.

Stay tuned!

Pierluigi Paganini

FAIR USE NOTICE: Under the "fair use" act, another author may make limited use of the original author's work without asking permission. Pursuant to 17 U.S. Code § 107, certain uses of copyrighted material "for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright." As a matter of policy, fair use is based on the belief that the public is entitled to freely use portions of copyrighted materials for purposes of commentary and criticism. The fair use privilege is perhaps the most significant limitation on a copyright owner's exclusive rights. Cyber Defense Media Group is a news reporting company, reporting cyber news, events, information and much more at no charge at our website Cyber Defense Magazine. All images and reporting are done exclusively under the Fair Use of the US copyright act.

Global InfoSec Awards 2022

We are in our 10th year, and these awards are incredibly well received – helping build buzz, customer awareness, sales and marketing growth opportunities, investment opportunities and so much more.

APPLY NOW

10th Anniversary Exclusive Top 100 CISO Conference & Innovators Showcase

X