Man in the Middle Attacks Also Threaten Mobile Security

While most typically mentioned with the security issues surrounding unsecure WiFi access points, Man in the Middle attacks can happen on almost any device and can lead to your communications being compromised. Lately, the most disconcerting Man in the Middle (MITM) attacks have been aimed at cell phones. MITM attacks against mobile phones are particularly worrisome because they result in enabling the attacker to identify an individual's location, eavesdrop on conversations, and intercept and manipulate SMS messages from the victim's phone.

What Are Mobile Man in the Middle Attacks?

As many are now becoming aware, governments, criminals, corporate spies, investigators and others are using surveillance equipment such as IMSI catchers or more sophisticated interceptors (often referred to generically as "stingrays") to not only capture a mobile phone's data but also to conduct surveillance in real time. IMSI catchers or stingrays work by acting as fake cell phone towers. Cell phones can connect to these IMSI catchers instead of legitimate towers and all calls, data, and SMS messages can be monitored, intercepted and manipulated. IMSI catchers have various ways to get around a phone's encryption and can also continue to pass the phone's calls, SMS messages, and data on to a real tower, leaving no indication of the attack. All mobile phones are vulnerable to these types of MITM attacks regardless of whether they are running 2G, 3G or 4G.

Who's Vulnerable to Man in the Middle Attacks?

Essentially, everyone is vulnerable. However, the most vulnerable are those who work for government organizations that deal with sensitive information as well as C-Suite executives in major corporations that might have access to valuable trade secrets or financial information. Additionally, those who work in research and development should also be cautious about mobile surveillance, as they often possess competitive intelligence that companies and organizations might attempt to steal. Law enforcement and criminal investigators should also be wary of mobile interception by criminal organizations. Read our article on mobile surveillance in law enforcement to learn more.

Because a basic IMSI catcher can be purchased or built for as little as $1500, just about anyone that has a lot to gain and is willing to take the risk can purchase one of these devices. Although as these devices become more and more mainstream, simply by hiring someone who already has one and is knowledgeable on how to use it how to use it, you can quickly gather intelligence easily and with little risk.

What Can You do to Protect Yourself from Man in the Middle Attacks?

If you need to combat mobile surveillance from companies, criminals and governments (most of which have access to some of the most advanced mobile interceptors available), you need a counter-surveillance system that can alert you as soon as these devices are turned on near your facility or executive. Ideally, you also need a system that can help identify the location and the type of interceptor. Charon Technologies provides governments and corporations with these advanced counter-surveillance technologies. Charon's Network Guard product line enables real-time protection against these IMSI Catchers and mobile interceptors, as it alerts the user of interception immediately. These advanced counter-surveillance products can also help directionally locate and identify the attacker. To learn more about these cutting edge counter-surveillance products, go to our Network Guard page.

 

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