Mobile Networks Security - Advice

Discussion in 'Royal Signals' started by ABrighter2006, Feb 4, 2008.

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  1. If there are any acknowledged SME's in relation to mobile phone switching and transmission, would you please take a look at the following and comment:

    Specifically, what advice should be given to mobile phone users in such a situation?

    Any background on "speed of use" would be useful also.


  2. It's not difficult to locate a mobile...the only question is how accurate that location is. It depends on a number of factors, the main one being how many cell transmitter/receivers the phone is "talking" to at any given point. The more, the more accurate the location is. In the UK, it can be as accurate as a couple of hundred feet, but also as accurate as with a mile or two, or even somewhere in a few square all factors have to be considered.

    There is only one way not to have your phone located....and that it not to turn it on. That doesn't include having it on standby, actaully powered off is the only way. Then you have to consider the fact that the phone "signs off" the network. You could then trace as to where that phone was when it signed off. So if you simply turned on your phone then turned it off, and didn't actually make a call, you could still be traced if you were daft enought to do it at home etc.

    There are a number of commercial organisations in the UK that you can now sign up to for tracking of phones, for your kids etc....

    My advice? If you are that worried, and if I was over there I might just be, I would not turn my phone on again.....however that might not be enough as the network would be able to look at your last calls, and possibly more, and work out where you were for those calls to within a certain, but variable, degree of accuracy.

    You have to remember, it just isn't possible to remain anonymous with technology.
  3. Thanks Infiltrator.

    The concerns being obviously with any number of former translators and LEC's whose only method of contact with those running the British Government's LEC Scheme Team, is by mobile telephone. Appreciate the comments regarding the historical / audit capabilities and power off, will pass it on.
  4. It is not good enough just to 'turn it off' many models will still transmit on occaision unless the battery is actually removed.
  5. It would depend upon whether they are using 2g or 3g phones. for 2g it is very difficult to get an exact fix, as you are only on 1 site at a time but if you hold a call long enough and travel through several sites then your route is more apparent and therefore your location. It also depends on the type of site your on, if omni (1 antenna) site not as easy as sectored (sites with 3 antenna). If they have the timing advance info then they can get a distance to within i think 50metres but not a direction.
    If your on a microcell then your location is generally within a 100 or so metres dependant upon clutter etc.

    For 3g you tend to have softhandover into a few sites at the same time (in urban area's) therefore your location can be triangulated. In rural area's there are few if any sites and therefore less likely, but if your the only house in the area, then it doesn't take the brains of an archbishop to find you.
    As Infiltrator says if you turn your phone on it does a LACod update automatically and tells the network where you are.

    This all depends upon the people having access to your phone records, which in UK is not something that is given out, but in iraq i suspect a few hundred dollars may get you this info.
    I used to do plots to pc plod that gave service area's of sites, so they could use it in court as evidence that mr x made a call at this time on this site so therefore although he says he was at his mums he couldn't have been

    If people are worried then tell them to not use a phone or get a pay as you go one and not give over there details, so nobody knows who's making the call. Also try not to call from home and keep the calls short.
    oh and if your plugged in at the BSC you can listen into the calls, if you can get the access and you know what your doing. best bet dont use them.
  6. Filius and Roadster - thanks for the comprehensive answers and guidelines. Much appreciated - (and dozens of iPhone users on ARRSE now get to find out where they are)! Will pass the detail on to those who need to be aware of it. Commonsense being the watchword as always when using a mobile in sandy places.

    Sadly, I don't Pay and Go is an option, hence the "value" of the database, etc.
  7. there are software packages out in civvie street (v expensive) that translate all the OSS data into a geographic image. however the key issue as Filius and Roadster have indicated is power. timing (how long it takes for the signal to get from the BTS to handset) and trianglulation. Because networks have become more complex there is now more information to be uses. However if the network is not setup properly and the parameters are not correct, the information received could be misleading. so in general the layman its difficult but if you have the knowledge and equipment its possible to get an idea of where people are (sub urban) or rural
  8. Primarily, you need access to the core network itself to use this at all efficiently. If you had a big list of names and IMEI numbers, and certain radio equipment, I suppose you could drive around trying to sniff handsets talking to the BTS and check if someone you're after is nearby.

    But that would be a very inefficient way of going about it; you'd want to know roughly where the target was to start with. It's also dependent on whether or not the network is using encryption (which they bloody well should be).

    ISTR there have been concerns about the security of the Iraqi GSM networks' MSCs.