Suspects arrested in Britain for improvised mobile phone antenna

UK authorities have arrested two suspects accused of using a makeshift mobile phone antenna to send thousands of deceptive text messages.

mobile tower

One of them is Huayong Xu, 32, and according to police this was the first hack of its kind in Britain, where an illegal mobile phone web was used to send phishing messages.

In this way, the perpetrators were able to bypass the security systems of mobile networks that block suspicious messages.

According to police, the suspects sent thousands of messages impersonating banks and other official organizations to those near the antenna in an attempt to trick recipients into sharing their personal information.

This type of smishing (also known as SMS phishing) is made possible by known shortcomings in mobile communications standards, particularly the requirement for mobile devices to authenticate themselves to networks by sharing the International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IM Subscriber Identity = IMSI), while the networks are not required to check their identity respectively.

Cell phones connected to a fake base station will receive a phishing message almost immediately. Police described the device as improvised, but it is simple enough to use standard radio equipment (also known as IMSI-catcher), although the emission power may be limited in the immediate vicinity.

The case may be the first to be prosecuted in the UK, but this type of criminal activity exploiting mobile phone technology has been widespread in East Asia for several years and appears to be spreading to Europe.

Vietnam's Ministry of Information and Communications issued a warning last year about fake base stations, after two men were caught using a mobile radio transceiver to capture similar IMSI details from nearby mobiles and then send them fraudulent messages.

Police in France discovered in December 2022 an IMSI-catcher used by a woman to send messages encouraging Parisians to share their personal information with a fake health insurance website. The same gang has also been linked to another IMSI-catcher who was driving around town in an old ambulance!.

Last year, Norway's Security Service arrested a Malaysian man initially suspected of espionage after he was spotted with an IMSI-catcher roaming near various sensitive locations, including the Prime Minister's office and the Ministry of Defence. The man was sentenced to three years in prison.

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Written by Dimitris

Dimitris hates on Mondays .....

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