Intercepting Cell Phone Calls
Spying on other people’s mobile phone calls has been a fantasy for many people. Parents want to know who their children are talking to. Couples want to track their partner mobile calls. Employees want to know what their bosses are talking about. Intelligence and law enforcement agencies want to track down criminals and last but not the least hackers who want to spy on other people for several reasons.
This article will describe some methods how this spying is performed. However be advised that mobile phone spying is illegal in most countries and you need special permissions to do this. The purpose of this article is not to tell you how to intercept other people mobile or cell phone calls, but better inform you about the tactics used by hackers so that you can make you phone calls secure and private.
There are several ways of spying on mobile phones, some of them are described below:
Sending a Service Message (SMS)
This spying technique was developed by SecurStar, a security company from Germany. In their technique they send an invisible text message to the victim mobile phone. The message enables the victim mobile phone to make a conference call with the hacker without the caller and victim’s knowledge. The nature of service message (SMS) is similar to those of the messages send to customer to update their SIM settings like GPRS or MMS settings. A hacker can send a similar message than can reprogram the victim’s mobile phone. After the victim’s mobile phone has been reprogrammed each incoming and outgoing call is conferenced with the hacker without the victim’s knowledge.
The victim will pay for the conference call charges. To avoid hacker’s number in getting listed in the call history on the mobile phone bill (the monthly statement), the attacker can choose a 0800 number instead of his cell number that is redirected using VOIP to attacker’s own mobile phone or even a PC.
Installing a Spy Software
This is a very easy technique for intercepting mobile phone calls. This method is used by individuals mostly for personal reasons. Like check people want to check if their partner is cheating on them. For this method to succeed you need to purchase spy software and physically install it on the victim’s mobile phone. This could be done very easily by friends and families. There are lots of cell phone spy software available online. Such software offer features like:
- Listineng to the phone calls
- Get SMS, call logs and emails emailed or sent as SMS to you
- Track victim’s location on map
- Making spy calls using the victim’s balance or credit
- Receiving a phone call on your cell whenever the victim makes or attends a call
- Use victims’ mobile phone to bug them and listen to their everyday conversation even when they are not using their cell phone.
- Record all incoming and outgoing calls on a PC
To avoid any such software from getting installed on your mobile phone password protect it and change the default password. Do not share this password with anyone, even your close friends and family because they are can be the potential hackers!
Decoding/Breaking the Cellular Encryption
This is a pretty complex task and can only be done by individuals with lots of resources and technical knowledge. The mobile phone conversations, SMS, MMS and internet are done through electromagnetic waves. These waves are very similar to the ones use for watching TV transmission using an antenna. However the tricky part is that the mobile phone waves are encrypted or coded before and after transmission.
If someone hacks the encryption algorithm he can decode the conversations and listen to them. The disadvantage of this technique is that you need to be physically place an antenna near in a specific area where you want to spy. Moreover hacker will start picking all sorts of calls and he may need to filter call by a particular cell phone number (IMSI) or IMEI. Some people also say that mobile phone companies provide the encrypting techniques to the law enforcing companies to track and monitor criminal activities. The devices made for such tasks are also known as IMSI catchers.
Similar techniques are used in UK and several other countries like Iran by intelligence agencies. It was reported once on BBC news that Iran bought such equipment from Nokia Siemen Network (NSN) at very high price to monitor their citizens. NSN manufactures the base stations or masts (mobile phone towers) and therefore they know their encryption and decryption techniques as it is built into the system.
Requesting Service Providers
This technique for mobile spying is often used by police mostly after a crime. They request the cell phone service providers to provide Call Detail Record or CDR of particular cell phone numbers. A CDR contains several fields some of them are given below:
- Called Party (number receiving the call)
- Calling Party (number making the call)
- Date and time
- Call duration
- Result of the call (a number describing whether the call was successful or not)
- Mobile number that was billed for the call
- Mobile tower id that was used by calling party
- Mobile tower id that was used by called party
- Event type (Voice, SMS or GPRS)
All of the above fields can help in an investigation. It can also be used to monitor a person’s activities (mobile calls) and hence can be used for spying as well.
Hope all of the above techniques will help you imporve your cellular privacy. Happy calling!