Researchers hack Verizon device, turn it into mobile spy station: Two security experts said they have figured out how to spy on Verizon Wireless mobile phone customers by hacking into devices the U.S. carrier sells to boost wireless signals indoors.
The finding, which the experts demonstrated to Reuters and will further detail at two hacking conferences this summer, comes at a time of intense global debate about electronic privacy, after top-secret U.S. surveillance programs were leaked by a former National Security Agency contractor, Edward Snowden, last month.
“This is not about how the NSA would attack ordinary people. This is about how ordinary people would attack ordinary people,” said Tom Ritter, a senior consultant with the security firm iSEC Partners.
Verizon said it has updated the software on its signal-boosting devices, known as femtocells or network extenders, to prevent hackers from copying the technique of the two experts.
But Ritter said motivated hackers can still find other ways to hack the femtocells of Verizon, as well as those offered by some 30 carriers worldwide to their customers.
Femtocells, which act as tiny cellphone towers, can be purchased directly from Verizon for $250. Used models can be obtained online for about $150.