According to a 2010 survey by the CDC (Center For Disease Control) 26.6% of US households use only cell phones at home (Blumberg). With such a large amount of people depending on cellular for communications it is important to understand the security risks they face.
Cell phone communication is not completely secure but the risk depends on a variety of variables, user habits, interception points, and user vigilance.
Legally no one is supposed to listen to cell phone calls but it does happen. In April of 1994 the Federal Communications Commission “ruled no radio scanners may be manufactured or imported into the U.S. that can pick up frequencies used by cellular telephones, or that can be readily altered to receive such frequencies. (47 CFR Part 15.37(f))(Fact Sheet). “Another federal law, the Counterfeit Access Device Law, was amended to make it illegal to use a radio scanner "knowingly and with the intent to defraud" to eavesdrop on wire or electronic communication. (18 USC 1029) Penalties for the intentional interception of cordless and cellular telephone calls range from fines to imprisonment depending on the circumstances. (18 USC 2511, 2701)” (Fact Sheet).
Two of the most common avoidable breaches to secure calling have to do with the ease of use and portability of cell phones. As people have become more comfortable with holding conversations in public many people talk on the cell phone as if they are alone with no one able to hear. They may not be thinking about security when they talk to someone asking for verification by using their Social Security number, birth date, or other personal items. Another common issue is pocket calling. An article in In...
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...ion (EFF). “What Can I Do To Protect Myself?”. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Surveillance Self-Defence. Web. 29 October 2011
“Fact Sheet 2: Wireless Communications: Voice and Data Privacy.” Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. Revised August 2011. Web. 29 August 2011.
Grimes, Roger A. “Unintended cell phone calls put privacy at risk.” Info-world. 15 June 20101. Web. 29 October 2011.
Valentino, Vishnu. “Vodafone Hacked – Root Password published” Vishnu Valentino: Blog. Web. 29 August 2011.
Walker, Michael. “On the Security of 3GPP Networks.” International Association for Cryptologic Research. Web. 29 October 2011.
Walter, Vic and Krista Kjellman. “Can You Hear Me Now?” ABC News Investigative. 5 Dec 2006. Web. 29 October 2011.
Zetter, Kim. ”Hacker Spoofs Cell Phone Tower to Intercept Calls.” Wired. 31 July 2010. Web. 29 October 2011.
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