Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cell phone hackers can track your location without your knowledge

Date:
February 16, 2012
Source:
University of Minnesota
Summary:
Cellular networks leak the locations of cell phone users, allowing a third party to easily track the location of the cell phone user without the user's knowledge, according to new research by computer scientists.

Cellular networks leak the locations of cell phone users, allowing a third party to easily track the location of the cell phone user without the user's knowledge, according to new research by computer scientists in the University of Minnesota's College of Science and Engineering.

Related Articles


University of Minnesota computer science Ph.D. student Denis Foo Kune, working with associate professors Nick Hopper and Yongdae Kim, and undergraduate student John Koelndorfer, described their work in a recently released paper "Location Leaks on the GSM Air Interface" which was presented at the 19th Annual Network & Distributed System Security Symposium in San Diego, California.

"Cell phone towers have to track cell phone subscribers to provide service efficiently," Foo Kune explained. "For example, an incoming voice call requires the network to locate that device so it can allocate the appropriate resources to handle the call. Your cell phone network has to at least loosely track your phone within large regions in order to make it easy to find it."

The result is that the tower will broadcast a page to your phone, waiting for your phone to respond when you get a call, Foo Kune said. This communication is not unlike a CB radio. Further, it is possible for a hacker to force those messages to go out and hang up before the victim is able to hear their phone ring.

Cellular service providers need to access location information to provide service. In addition, law enforcement agencies have the ability to subpoena location information from service providers. The University of Minnesota group has demonstrated that access to a cell phone user's location information is easily accessible to another group -- possible hackers.

"It has a low entry barrier," Foo Kune said. "Being attainable through open source projects running on commodity software."

Using an inexpensive phone and open source software, the researchers were able to track the location of cell phone users without their knowledge on the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) network, the predominant worldwide network.

In a field test, the research group was able to track the location of a test subject within a 10-block area as the subject traveled across an area of Minneapolis at a walking pace. The researchers used readily available equipment and no direct help from the service provider.

The implications of this research highlight possible personal safety issues.

"Agents from an oppressive regime may no longer require cooperation from reluctant service providers to determine if dissidents are at a protest location," the researchers wrote in the paper. "Another example could be thieves testing if a user's cell phone is absent from a specific area and therefore deduce the risk level associated with a physical break-in of the victim's residence."

Foo Kune and his group have contacted AT&T and Nokia with low-cost techniques that could be implemented without changing the hardware, and are in the process of drafting responsible disclosure statements for cellular service providers.

Visit http://z.umn.edu/fookuneresearch to read the full research paper.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Minnesota. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Minnesota. "Cell phone hackers can track your location without your knowledge." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120216165701.htm>.
University of Minnesota. (2012, February 16). Cell phone hackers can track your location without your knowledge. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120216165701.htm
University of Minnesota. "Cell phone hackers can track your location without your knowledge." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120216165701.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Restores Amputee Dexterity

Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Restores Amputee Dexterity

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 29, 2014) A Swedish amputee who became the first person to ever receive a brain controlled prosthetic arm is able to manipulate and handle delicate objects with an unprecedented level of dexterity. The device is connected directly to his bone, nerves and muscles, giving him the ability to control it with his thoughts. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robots Get Funky on the Dance Floor

Robots Get Funky on the Dance Floor

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) Dancing, spinning and fighting robots are showing off their agility at "Robocomp" in Krakow. (Oct. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
IBM Taps Into Twitter's Data With New Partnership

IBM Taps Into Twitter's Data With New Partnership

Newsy (Oct. 29, 2014) The new partnership will allow IBM to access Twitter’s data and analytics to help IBM clients better understand their consumers. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google To Use Nanoparticles, Wearables To Detect Disease

Google To Use Nanoparticles, Wearables To Detect Disease

Newsy (Oct. 29, 2014) Google X wants to improve modern medicine with nanoparticles and a wearable device. It's all an attempt to tackle disease detection and prevention. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins