SMS, calls and location can be hacked using your phone number | tech | Hindustan Times
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SMS, calls and location can be hacked using your phone number

A protocol developed in 1975, makes it possible for hackers to get access to messages, calls and location with an easy-to-acquire information like the phone number

tech Updated: Apr 20, 2016 11:46 IST
HT Correspondent
Phone

A protocol developed in 1975, makes it possible for hackers to get access to messages, calls and location with an easy-to-acquire information like the phone number(Pixabay)

Edward Snowden revealed that the US and UK government were conducting mass snooping on their citizens by invading their privacy under the cloak of greater good. And they probably still are, considering that all a hacker needs to peep into your private lives is your phone number.

According to a report, “An attacker can track a person’s location based on mobile phone mast triangulation, read their sent and received text messages, and log, record and listen into their phone calls, simply by using their phone number as an identifier.

The biggest issue for consumers is that there is little they can do to safeguard against this kind of snooping, short of turning off their mobile phone, as the attack happens on the network side, regardless of the phone used.”

A protocol developed in 1975, Signalling System No. 7 (SS7) makes it possible for hackers to get access to messages, calls and location with an easy-to-acquire information like the phone number.

However, this isn’t the first time a hack of such magnitude -- leaving all users in at least UK defenceless -- has been demonstrated. This method was first shown, to public, in 2015 at a hacker conference. A year down the line, the system still seems to work impeccably.

How to protect yourself

With all your communications over calls and texts accessible to anyone with mediocre expertise, one easy way to keep your communications private, is by using encrypted messaging and calling apps such as Telegram, WhatsApp, iMessages and FaceTime.

Read more: Here’s how you can check if your WhatsApp is encrypted and working

One the flip side

While privacy of citizens is important enough for tech companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Google and Facebook to stand up for, it also lets terrorist groups’ communications go unmonitored causing threat to the lives whose privacy is being protected.

As Tim Cook said during the special spring event at which the iPhone SE was launched, the question of how much access the government should have to our data requires more discussion.