Darshak: how to turn your phone into a low cost IMSI catcher device presented at t2InfoSecCon 2014

by Ravishankar Borgaonkar, Swapnil Udar,

Summary : It is said that 80% of the world’s population now has a mobile phone. They use mobile devices to make call, send SMS message, to access internet via the cellular network infrastructure. End-users carrying mobile phones 24 hr trust cellular network operators and believe that provided mobile communication link is secure.
However, on the other hand, mobile operators, device manufacturers, OS providers, baseband suppliers do little to provide best security and privacy features to them. In particular, security capabilities of mobile communications are not shown to the end-users. Hence it is easy for malicious attackers to mount subsequent attacks using IMSI catcher equipments. Further some hidden features for example ‘silent SMS’, are supported in currently used mobile telephony systems but not notified to the end users when in use. Attackers or illegitimate agencies exploit this weakness to track user movements regularly without user’s consent.
In this talk, we address above long-standing issues by developing a low cost, easy-to-use privacy framework based on Android OS. We demonstrate our effort to build an ideal way to protect mobile user privacy. Live demo of framework detecting hidden (in ) security features of mobile communication system will be provided.
Avishankar works as a Senior Researcher in Security in the Telecommunications Department at Technical University Berlin. His research themes are related to mobile telecommunication and involved security threats. This ranges from GSM/UMTS/LTE network security to end-user device security.
Swapnil is a master student at Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland. After working for five years at a US based IT company and with a Swiss bank, he is enjoying research in mobile security.