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Hackers Only Need Your Cell Phone Number To Eavesdrop

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The vulnerability that allowed a team of German hackers to eavesdrop on a U.S. Congressman’s phone conversations for CBS’s 60 Minutes has existed for years—possibly since the beginning of the modern cell phone network, according to security researchers.

Karsten Nohl, a chief scientist for Berlin-based Security Research Labs, demonstrated the flaw in “Signaling System Seven” (SS7), by tapping an iPhone conversation between Rep. Ted Lieu, a California Democrat, and 60 Minutes reporter Sharyn Alfonsi using only a phone number. Lieu today called for a congressional investigation into the SS7 flaws.

Among other functions, SS7 keeps calls connected as callers’ phones switch from one cell tower to another, if they’re using their phone in a car on the highway, for instance. Nohl and other German security experts became interested in SS7 in 2014 following a Washington Post story on commercial surveillance systems that exploit it to track cell phone users’ locations.

While operators are spending billions of dollars to upgrade their LTE and upcoming 5G networks, SS7 remains unprotected, and hackers can Theuse it to track the locations, conversations, and text messages of cell phone users anywhere in the world using only their phone number.

[vc_btn title=”More on the SS7″ style=”outline” color=”primary” size=”lg” align=”left” link=”url:http%3A%2F%2Fwww.pcmag.com%2Fnews%2F343806%2Fcongressman-cell-network-flaw-must-be-fixed|title:More%20on%20the%20SS7|target:%20_blank”][vc_message message_box_style=”3d” message_box_color=”turquoise”]By TOM BRANT, PC MagazineSouthFloridaReporter.com, April 23, 2016 [/vc_message]