40 Cellphone-tracking devices discovered throughout washington – slashdot gas stoichiometry calculator

The investigative news "I-Team" of a local TV station in Washington D.C. drove around with "a leading mobile security expert" — and discovered dozens of StingRay devices mimicking cellphone towers to track phone and intercept calls in Maryland, Northern Virginia, and Washington, D.C. An anonymous reader quotes their report:

The I-Team found them in high-profile areas like outside the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue and while driving across the 14th Street bridge into Crystal City… The I-Team’s test phones detected 40 potential locations where the spy devices could be operating, while driving around for just a few hours. "I suppose if you spent more time you’d find even more," said D.C. Councilwoman Mary Cheh. "I have bad news for the public: Our privacy isn’t what it once was…"

The good news is about half the devices the I-Team found were likely law enforcement investigating crimes or our government using the devices defensively to identify certain cellphone numbers as they approach important locations, said Aaron Turner, a leading mobile security expert… The I-Team got picked up [by StingRay devices] twice off of International Drive, right near the Chinese and Israeli embassies, then got another two hits along Massachusetts Avenue near Romania and Turkey… The phones appeared to remain connected to a fake tower the longest, right near the Russian Embassy.

StringRay devices are also being used in at least 25 states by police departments, according to the ACLU. The devices were authorized by the FCC back in 2011 for "federal, state, local public safety and law enforcement officials only" (and requiring coordination with the FBI).

But back in April the Associated Press reported that "For the first time, the U.S. government has publicly acknowledged the existence in Washington of what appear to be rogue devices that foreign spies and criminals could be using to track individual cellphones and intercept calls and messages… More sophisticated versions can eavesdrop on calls by forcing phones to step down to older, unencrypted 2G wireless technology. Some attempt to plant malware."

The software detection really gets interesting when you have that kind of support to "create" a tower and have a real telco tower. A tower that can be pass any scan by police, FBI, NSA, CIA, police contractors trying to secure a police building, city workers as it is the type and size of a normal "telco" registered tower.

The other reason why so many fake towers exist is that US police and state/federal task forces cannot trust any telco/court worker. So many investigations fail totally when cleared "staff" pass logs of real time investigations back to their own nations, cults, faith groups, criminals, the media due to their faith, for cash, staff with split loyalty to another nation.

The much older idea was for a gov, mil to "clone" their own site an existing telco site. So a telco would build a tower and the gov/mil would have a tower site that looked the same near that side. Same style, size, power. But city maps would only show the telco site. Easy access to the data was needed site to site in the past so location and a short distance was a design consideration.