Scientists are turning cell phones into jammers

Use network vulnerabilities to make your phone a distracting device, interrupt a small city network, only need a dozen cell phones. Researchers have found a way to make ordinary phones whine.

In some cases, mobile phone calls will be disturbed, such as B. In a movie theater, classroom, or conference room. Phone calls are prohibited in some places. The prison will install cell phone jammer to prevent the prisoners from smuggling. This “interference” is unsuitable in the hands of individuals and is expensive, energy inefficient. They are also a security risk because they prevent emergency calls.

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Computer scientists have now shown that even commercial cell phones can become wailing due to software changes. A team led by the Institute for Software Engineering and Theoretical Computer Science exchanged the software on cell phones and exploited their weak points in the GSM radio standard. Computer scientists presented their results in a security seminar.

Run optimized open source software on a changed phone. Therefore, they defraud radio antenna masts – just like cell phone jammer – and immerse the frequencies in the small area of ​​the jamming signals. Fault phones can prevent text messages and phone calls from being sent to recipients across the region: falsifying fake identities and answering questions with strange names. In the worst case, you can even block text messages.

Because radio stations send hundreds of square kilometers of status information before they are called. This process is called paging. The study’s lead author said, “A call is ready to be sent to all phones in the area.” It contains an identification number with which each phone can check whether it is on the device. ”

However, the changed telephone answers these queries faster than the other telephones and accepts them, calls and texts. For transmission towers, it looks as if the real recipient has been notified. But he didn’t learn anything. In the best of circumstances, only the phone is lost without a call. In the worst case, even text messages can be intercepted and read, due to the cracked encryption and the lack of identity verification.

So far, computer scientists have only tested the GSM standard more than 20 years ago, but many modern smartphones are used when needed. In addition, the researchers wrote that this gap threatens communication between the machine and the future Internet of Things. Even new UMTS or LTE networks can be vulnerable. Golde said: “Many GSM protocols are duplicated and pager mechanisms exist in both third and fourth generation mobile standards.” A similar attack could be here. “But so far the right hardware, especially software, is missing.

The computers computed in her study mirrored Berlin’s previous ones as long as eleven cell phones could weaken the city’s network. Scientists explain: “They can respond to all paging requests and block cellular areas.” This can affect the entire community. However, more calls were needed to cover requests from more disruptive providers during rush hour, with an average of 200 square kilometers in Berlin, where attackers could cover the area.

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The researchers say that such attacks can only be prevented by changing the GSM standard. These will be difficult to implement. They complain that the industry refuses to include new standards in the existing network. It will also be expensive, as more identity verification and traffic can address this vulnerability.

Since attacks target not only network operators and groups, but also individual users, they can cause further financial damage in the event of a security breach.

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