Mobile Phone Security
They benefits they bring in terms of anonymity and mobility but have a flip side, of being yet another tool that can used to keep an eye on us. Like all technology they carry risks for privacy and security, though nothing that cannot be dealt with by taking some simple precautions. Yes it can be a pain to follow them through all the time, but think about what you are trying to achieve in the long run. Like all security, the more you practise it, the more it becomes second nature as you practise it automatically.
Mobile phones come in three parts, the shell which consists of the screen and buttons, the “SIM card” that associates the hardware with a telephone number and the battery. The SIM card is a small strip of plastic with a gold circle on it. It fits in the back of the mobile, usually behind the battery. Each SIM card is unique and identifiable by the mobile number.
Most people are paranoid about the SIM card, but the phone itself is also marked with an IMEI number the “International Mobile Equipment Identity” number. When you make a phone call both your SIM card and IMEI number is broadcast to the mobile phone network.
What makes a mobile phone quite literally mobile, is the presence of mobile phone masts scattered around the country. When your mobile is turned on it and the network constantly check with each other as to where is the nearest mast for it to communicate. In any one area, there may be several masts, so the network and your phone communicate with them all in order to work out which is the best one for you to use.
Using the information provided by these checks, it is not hard to identify roughly where the phone is located by triangulation. Some estimates claim that this works down to 10 meters, others make more accurate claims. However, the fact that they can locate you to a particular area is damning enough.
Bring in features such as global positioning services (GPS) as now comes available with most phones, whether advertised or not, then your mobile is essentially a homing beacon for those who can access this information.
The same warnings regarding land-lines being tapped all apply equally to mobile phones. The only difference is that there is not a specific phone to tie you to, and you are not necessarily registered to the number. So, if you can purchase a phone anonymously and use it with a few simple precautions then there is no reason why those trying to invade your privacy will ever be compromised.
To ensure anonymity, nothing stops you from doing the following when buying a mobile phone. Make your purchase in a shop away from where you live. Try if possible to avoid town centres where there is a greater likelihood that you will be on CCTV. Many small or second hand shops do not have cameras and those that do are unlikely to retain tapes for longer than a few weeks if at all. Do not giving your real details if asked. Many shop do ask for your details, but not proof of ID, and you are not under any obligation to inform them. Go for simple phones without all the extra features now being made available. Only pay by cash. Do not register the phone – there is no legal obligation to do so.
When setting up the mobile, use pay-as-you-go options only; this is a more expensive solution, but required for anonymity. Unregistered pay-as-you-go phone calls can be paid for either by using top-up vouchers, or by a swipe card inside a shop. Its recommend that you only use top-up vouchers purchased in cash. Using a swipe card to top up within a shop leaves a trail of evidence back to the shop where you could be identified by CCTV or eyewitnesses.
By personal we mean mobiles that are going to end up being associated with you. The moment you give out your number to friends and associates it can end up on any network of contacts being monitored. If your associates are activists or have outstanding warrants, then this will immediately compromise the security of the phone.
Never say anything on a personal mobile phone you would not wish to have to justify at any point or may incriminate you in any way. Although the mobile may not be used in an action, it use may point to you as being involved and cause you to be investigated.Do not take personal mobiles into meetings, and preferably do not even bring them with you. Mobiles are potential listening/tracking devices and should be treated as such.
If you are on your way to a sensitive meeting, turn your mobile off and remove the battery well before you get to the meeting point, or you may be giving the meeting point away. Even if the meeting is not secret, it is best not to have it present, as you never know what else might be said; besides being very bad etiquette, the safety of others may be put at risk.
Personal mobiles should be avoided being brought on actions where possible. If you have to bring them, such as for ‘mobile’ demos or if you get separated, take the batteries out until they are needed. There is no point taking a load of security precautions if your mobile phone logs are going to place you as being in the area at the time, or alerting others to the fact that you were in that area so giving them an avenue of investigation.
Its currently recommend against purchasing the higher end of the mobile market where phones have built in camera and other gadgets. Again camera phones hold potential threats to your security, and give them a face to match to your voice. It has not been necessary so far for people to see your face when speaking to you, so it should not matter now. From those concerned with privacy, it is another compromise.
Never enable GPS or similar such services on your phone if you can help it. Features such as these appear to make life simpler but contain inherent threats to your security. SMS / Texting is very useful but also one of the easiest methods to monitor. It is known that scanning software is available for monitoring them. Make sure you delete your text messages and never write anything you would be unable to defend in court.
Finally, mobiles can also be used to confuse. Say one mobile phone was used in a location and you have been accused of using that phone at that time. A possible defence is to say that it could not have been you as if they were to look at the logs of your actual phone, that everyone knows is yours, then it was in a different place altogether. In other words, the tracking capability of mobile phones can also be used to provide alibis, especially if calls were made from the phone at the time of the alleged offence.
There are two scenarios to consider here. The first is where mobiles are used to facilitate the action, but not the action itself. The second is when the mobile is an intrinsic element of the action. In the first case, this could be when an action needs to be co-ordinated. If there is a lot of risk attached to this, it is worth investing in a set of mobiles to be used specifically for it. Second hand mobiles may be useful in this case, as the chances are that after the action the mobiles will have to be discarded, just do not buy them off friends. The reason behind this, is that if you have a set of mobiles that have never been associated with your network of contacts and friends, it is impossible to connect them back to you.
This means you can set up an anonymous network that will not draw attention from the various authorities listening in. Avoid bringing attention to it by not saying anything explicit on it, but using code. Keep the batteries out of the mobile until they are required, and when testing that all is working fine, chose an area free of CCTV. Testing that the mobiles work and that everyone can use them and has the relevant numbers is important.
We also recommend that you burn the packaging that comes with the phones. The mobiles should be disposed of afterward, ideally by burning. It is no longer enough just to destroy the SIM cards and reuse them. As noted, mobile phones are a very useful tool. There are many situations whereby you want to contact another telephone number anonymously. So some guidelines: Follow the above guidelines for purchasing a mobile phone anonymously, Do not ring your friends or contacts from the mobile; if you have to do this, then get rid of the mobile immediately afterwards as it has been compromised, Keep the battery out of the mobile when not in use, Keep the SIM card out of the mobile when not in use; preferably store them separately.
To make the phone call, travel to the area avoiding CCTV as much as possible. A quick bike ride into the countryside or a suburban bus-shelter usually does the trick, Try to avoid spending longer than 30 minutes in one area. Make use of the fact that the phone allows you to be mobile, Do not slip into a pattern of using the mobile at a certain time or certain place or it will end up as being little better than using it at home, Do not answer calls to the phone and ignore any messages they leave on your answering service.
Depending on how much you use the phone, what you say on it, you need to consider changing the SIM card after a length of time. The heavier the use, or the more legally risky stuff you say on it (or not as maybe the case) will require regular changes of the SIM card and even of the phone itself.
Mobile phone manufactures and software companies are working very closely together to develop new services for mobiles. There is a natural trend to turn to the mobile into a miniature computer. Unfortunately, these come with a lot of security risks.
There have also been a number of stories about commercial systems now being able to use mobile phones and the internet to monitor people. This is being done under the guise of monitoring lazy workers or protecting children. However, the obvious threat to civil liberties is there.
So far, in order for these commercial services to work, a text message is sent to your mobile from the tracking service, and you have to reply (that is give your consent) to activate it. It should be standard policy on your part, never to reply to unsolicited texts or texts from numbers you do not recognize. If you get one from one of these services, then simply ignore it. It only becomes a threat if you reply to it.
The risk is, if your house is broken into by whatever authorities or company are watching you, and they do the reply for you (it would be relatively simple to arrange to have a text message sent at the appropriate time, and subsequently delete it, in which case you would be blissfully unaware). The simple solution is to take the SIM card out when not using it, especially at night, and store it separately, as we have already suggested you do with phones being use for activism.
Careful however, once the user has been identified as using a certain phone, they can be tracked with the unique built-in International Mobile Equipment Identification IMEI encoded into each mobile phone. The IMEI emitted by the phone does not change, regardless of the SIM in the phone. It is even transmitted when no SIM at all is present in the phone. If longer-term anonymity is required, it is necessary to replace the phone and SIM every few days. Sometimes, for complete anonymity it is not advisable to have a mobile phone on your person at all. Some phones may still transmit information to the network or be accessible from the network even though the user has switched them off.��
It is therefore strongly recommended to remove the Spy on Calls Log – Each incoming and outgoing number on the phone is logged along with duration and time stamp. Spy on SMS – Every text message/MMS is logged even if the phone’s logs are deleted. Includes full text. Spy on Location – The phones’s current location is frequently logged using GPS when signal is available. Spy on Web Activity – Each address entered into Internet Explorer (or any browser) on the phone is logged. This cell phone spy software works in total stealth mode. The person using the phone can never come to know about the presence of this spy software. Remove batteries from the phone.
If you desperately need to keep in communication, use it for a day or two whilst you are engaged in sensitive work.
If traveling to a sensitive location, in an urban area do not use your phone within 2-3 miles of the location, or in rural areas do not use it within 10-15 miles of the location. This will prevent the creation of a trail that associates you with that location on that day. If the location you are going to is nowhere near a route you regularly travel, turn off your phone before you start your journey there. �