Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Norway - Eavesdropping Devices Found - UPDATE

Stingray mobile phone surveillance equipment estimated to cost up to £200,000 has been found hidden near the Norwegian parliament, believed to be snooping on legislators.

Following a two week investigation, Norway's Aftenposten newspaper reported to the Norwegian National Security Authority (NSM) that it had discovered IMSI-catchers (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) of a type believed sold by Harris Corporation, located inside fake mobile phone stations near government and parliamentary buildings in Oslo. At least six devices were found, each about the size of a suitcase. Potential targets within a radius of one kilometre of the equipment include the prime minister's office, the ministry of defence, Stortinget (parliament) and the central bank, Norges Bank, ministers, state secretaries, members of parliament, state officials, the American and Israeli embassies as well as many private businesses...

Initially IMSI-catchers only collect data from the sim-card but the intrusion can escalate, as the Aftenposten report explains: The most advanced versions can register several hundred numbers in just a few minutes. Once a mobile phone has been detected by a fake base station, the IMSI-catcher can enter an active mode to eavesdrop on certain conversations. Then it will transmit the conversation to the real GSM-system acting as a ‘man-in-the-middle.

The fake base station can even register SMS-messages and install spyware enabling its operator to switch on the microphone so that the mobile phone can be used to bug rooms and meetings. (more)