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17 Feb 2012

Cellular Networks May Leak Your Location To Hackers!

Beware! Cellular networks may be posing a risk to your privacy. Not by leaking your personal information but by letting hackers know your position. According to a research by Minnesota scientists, hacking the information is possible while mobile tower is engaged in providing you service. The paper to this effect was presented by the team at 19th the Annual Network & Distributed System Security Symposium in San Diego, California. The paper was authored by Denis Foo Kune, associate professors Nick Hopper and Yongdae Kim, and undergraduate student John Koelndorfer.

Image Credit: BLOGYUENME

The scientists conducted their research on Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) network. In a field experiment, the team could track the location of marked target within 10 block area. According to Ph.D. student Denis Foo Kune, the tower broadcasts a page to provide you service. For the network provider company it is necessary that your coordinates are tracked. However, this poses a risk if someone wants to know your position. Primarily your cellular network provider may share your location data with national security organizations. This is always done in respect to the agreement with the Government.

Talking about the hacking possibility, Foo Kune explained that it is possible through open source projects running on commodity software. A hacker can reach you with the help of low cost devices even without the network providers knowing about it. The picture is indeed worrisome. Even the companies who are strictest in their policies regarding customer care may face this trouble. The solutions to prevent this are hence needed. The Minnesota research group has contacted AT&T and Nokia regarding the low cost techniques that can be employed without changing the hardware.  Of course the risks are quite serious but let us hope that nothing of a dangerous sort happens at the moment.

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