Communications at Risk of Interception…again?…Groundhog Day?
Yes indeed, I’m old enough to remember the original version of “Groundhog Day,” starring Bill Murray. It’s one of those movies that’s always funny, no matter how many times you see it…and the recently opened (now closing) Broadway musical affords hope that a younger generation is also familiar with the central premise: a regular guy (Bill Murray) waking up morning after morning to the same day all over again, in a seemingly endless loop.
Seeing recent reports about hackers in Canada working with the Canadian Broadcast Service to demonstrate easy interception of a Member of Parliament’s communications, including phone calls and messages on mobile networks; and the continued drumbeat from the U.S. Congress to further expose the vulnerabilities of mobile networks, it’s starting to feel like Groundhog Day:
November 3, 2017: “Gaining access to the global network used by spies to track phone calls and intercept communications is relatively cheap and easy for hackers, criminals, or even anyone, a Daily Beast investigation has found.”
November 23, 2017: CBC/Radio Canada recently reported on a demonstration proving that “hackers only needed an MP’s cellphone number in order to record his phone conversations and track his movements, using a technique known as an SS7 attack.”
November 27, 2017: “Senator questions DHS about surveillance technology used in U.S. by foreign spies.”
I thought we had already covered this ground a few years ago…haven’t these issues already been disclosed and validated? German researchers discovered security issues back in 2014 enabling interception of communications, and then the television news show “60 minutes” demonstrated the live intercept of a congressman’s calls and messages from his mobile phone in the spring of 2016:
December 19, 2014: “German researchers have discovered security flaws that could let hackers, spies and criminals listen to private phone calls and intercept text messages on a potentially massive scale – even when cellular networks are using the most advanced encryption now available.”
April 17, 2016: “60 Minutes: Hacking Your Phone. Sharyn Alfonsi reports on how cellphones and mobile phone networks are vulnerable to hacking.”
It sure seems like we’re living this day again…and again…and again. And each and every time, we’re told that the mobile network operators are “taking proactive steps” to protect their networks, like implementing new types of firewalls. And the carriers are indeed taking extensive measures to protect their networks, as evidenced by the fast-growing market for carrier network vulnerability assessments and firewalls.
So then why do phones keep getting hacked? Why is the alarm going off again to wake us to the same reality once more?
Because carrier network firewalls are a necessary but insufficient defense. We need “defense in depth.”
The widespread adoption of robust, end-to-end encryption applications for mobile devices provides us with this defense in depth, which is why the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommends “end-to-end encryption for all communications paths.”
KoolSpan’s TrustCall secure voice and messaging solutions for Android and iOS mobile phones provide robust, cross-platform, end-to-end encryption for government organizations and enterprises in over 60 countries worldwide, and the market leading defense in depth against threats to mobile networks including interception of communications, with HD quality audio performance on a global basis in a wide range of network environments.
Why would anyone ever opt to make an insecure call?
For more information on TrustCall, and how you can easily implement across your organization, contact Sales.