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Cool 'spy phone' reveals when you're bugged

Cool 'spy phone' reveals when you're bugged
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

You're smartphone isn't completely safe. Even if you're running the great security software I recommend to keep out malware and viruses, there's still a chance that someone could be listening in on your calls or tracking your every movement. Edward Snowden warned us about the NSA snooping on our gadgets, but they're not the only ones. Other government agencies, police departments and high-tech criminals could also be listening or tracking you without your knowledge. Earlier this year, it was discovered that police in Florida were monitoring cellphone calls without a judge's permission using "StingRays."

Recently, an executive from tech security firm Integricell drove around Washington, D.C., with a tool designed to detect IMSI catchers like StingRays. Those are high-tech gadgets used by the government, police and criminals to track and listen in on calls. It's illegal to use them without a warrant, but that wouldn't stop a criminal who wants to steal your private information. StingRays are quite expensive, but a skilled criminal could build their own IMSI catcher for less than $2,000!

Known as IMSI catchers, for the unique identifying phone code called an IMSI, the surveillance devices trick mobile phones into thinking they have logged onto legitimate cell networks, such as Verizon or AT&T, when in fact the signals have been hijacked.

You won't believe what he found. After driving around Washington D.C. for only a day and a half, the tool found signs of up to 18 IMSI catchers! Most of them surrounded government facilities and government contractors.

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GSMK CryptoPhone

The gadget the Integricell exec was using was actually his phone. The company has created Android smartphones that are specifically designed to know when ISMI catchers are trying to steal your calls. It works by looking at a variety of factors that could signal your call is being stolen.

The first notes when a phone shifts from a more-secure 3G network to a less-secure 2G one. The second detects when a phone connection strips away encryption, making interception easier. And the third reports when a cell tower fails to make available a list of other cell towers in the area ...

The CryptoPhone can't actually locate each ISMI catcher. It can just warn you when it thinks your phone is being tracked based on those high-risk factors by flashing a warning box on your screen. It's also a really pricey solution right now. Integricell is charging $3,500 to those that want to get their hands on one.

There are several tech firms out there right now trying to develop cheaper apps that offer the same services as the CryptoPhone. Until then, you can use these great apps to make encrypted calls that even the NSA can't crack for free!

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