SMS Tracking Loophole Been Known For 19 Years

SMS Tracking Loophole Makes It Easy For Hackers To Read Messages

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According to a new report, telecom companies have known about a huge loophole in their system for close to 19 years. The SMS tracking loophole makes it easy for malicious entities, states, and governments to perform tracking without any restrictions.

The SMS tracking loophole has been found within the SS7 set of telephone network protocols. The protocols were originally developed in 1975 and have been used by telecommunication providers ever since. By using the loophole, it’s possible for smartphones and cell phones to be tracked across the planet. Calls and text messages can also be intercepted.

Recently, the huge security flaws of the SS7 network have come to light, but there still hasn’t been enough attention in the media. One media outlet went as far as to show that they could intercept and eavesdrop on United States congressmen Ted Lieu by using the SMS tracking loophole found within the SS7 protocols.

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Scarily, this problem has been known for decades, and there has been very little done about it to patch the problem. A document dated in 1998 from the European Telecommunications Standards Institute read, “There is no adequate security in SS7. Mobile operators’ needs to protect themselves from attack by hackers and inadvertent action that could stop a network or networks operating correctly.”

Unfortunately, because the SS7 protocols are being used in the groundworks of practically every cellular network in the world, there’s no easy way to move to a safer system. Network providers, can, however, setup their own local security networks that can protect sent cellular data and prevent malicious attempts at eavesdropping or altering messages before they’re sent.

The same 1998 paper read, “Security of SS7 is no longer simply a question of standardization. Network operators can deploy security measures such as firewalls to protect their networks and their customers, and SS7 security products and services exist on the market to meet these needs.”

The main issue with the current security flaw is that there aren’t any laws in place to force network providers to provide security measures for their customers. Instead, only a guideline has been issued that suggests network providers set up security measures and a firewall at their own discretion.

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Senator Ron Wyden has constantly tried to bring this glaring issue to light, but with little luck. Wyden mentioned to the Daily Beast that,  “The FCC says it won’t force wireless carriers to fix these weaknesses, instead arguing that voluntary measures will be sufficient. I disagree. Self-regulation has clearly failed. The FCC needs to force carriers to secure their networks and protect America’s critical communications infrastructure.”

“As a result, today companies openly sell surveillance services that use these same vulnerabilities, enabling foreign governments, hackers, and others who intend harm, to track and spy on innocent people around the world,”

With this huge security flaw in mind, it’s potentially very easy to intercept calls and texts sent through a traditional mobile network. If you value your privacy, you should avoid using the antiquated system and move to end-to-end encrypted internet messaging. Many apps provide such services and can keep malicious individuals or governments from using SMS tracking to track your messages and calls.

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