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Cell phone bugging: Who told you so? - Adventures in Engineering — LiveJournal
The wanderings of a modern ronin.

Ben Cantrick
  Date: 2007-06-23 15:39
  Subject:   Cell phone bugging: Who told you so?
Public
  Mood:fed up with YOU
  Tags:  reddit

give a talk called "The Future of Privacy," where I talk about current and future technological developments that erode our privacy. One of the things I talk about is auditory eavesdropping, and I hypothesize that a cell phone microphone could be turned on surreptitiously and remotely.

I never had any actual evidence one way or the other, but the technique has surfaced in an organized crime prosecution:

The surveillance technique came to light in an opinion published this week by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan. He ruled that the "roving bug" was legal because federal wiretapping law is broad enough to permit eavesdropping even of conversations that take place near a suspect's cell phone.

Kaplan's opinion said that the eavesdropping technique "functioned whether the phone was powered on or off." Some handsets can't be fully powered down without removing the battery; for instance, some Nokia models will wake up when turned off if an alarm is set.


http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2006/12/remotely_eavesd_1.html


When I posted about this in 2003, you probably thought I was off the deep end and/or clinically paranoid. What a difference 4 years makes, eh?

So, which issues am I warning you about today that you're ignoring and dismissing?
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osmium_ocelot
  User: osmium_ocelot
  Date: 2007-06-24 01:01 (UTC)
  Subject:   Cell phones as bugs...
I wish I could remember where I'd seen what i'm about to describe... It was on one of these real life crime shows, where they go back and examine a crime without any of the drama, just interviews with the people involved, a narrative, and maybe a "dramatic reenactment".

Anywho, the abusive controlling husband had done the following : He took a cell phone with a GPS, wired it into the electrical system of the wife's SUV and hid it behind the dash. He set up said phone to auto answer without ringing. So all he had to do, to eavesdrop on her conversations and know exactly where she was, was dial up the cell phone. The phone was kept constantly charged by the vehicle. Nice set up, huh?
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Ben Cantrick
  User: mackys
  Date: 2007-06-24 22:37 (UTC)
  Subject:   Re: Cell phones as bugs...
The really crazy thing about the above, is the "the bug works whether the phone is turned on or off"! Of course, what's really going on is that the off button on the phone has been reprogrammed to only turn the display screen off, not the guts of the phone. Still pretty head-hurting if you're not a programmer or electrical engineer.
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