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  1. gariac's Avatar
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    Thread AuthorThread Author   #1  

    Default Detecting tower encryption mode?

    The "stingray" has been making news again. If you haven't been following cell tower spoofing, the "stingray" is a commercial device that illegally spoofs a cell tower, but has become a generic term for any device spoofing a tower, i.e. hacker.

    The key to the bad guy hacking your phone is that the tower determines the level of encryption, not the handset.. In the US, we use A5/3. In oppressive countries that think their population doesn't deserve privacy, they use A5/0, or basically no encryption.

    If you know how to get your Blackberry in engineering screen mode, you can view your present level of encryption by
    utilities->ciphering .
    It indeed shows I have A5/3.

    Questions:
    1) Is there a warning on the phone if encryption falls to A5/0 or I suppose anything lower than A5/3?
    2) Is there an app or some way within the OS that will indicate the current level of encryption.

    This is useful background information.
    http://blog.taddong.com/2011/02/does...s-not.html?m=1

    The article claims the ability to see the encryption level depends also on the simcard. Now I suppose if you were in India, where you only get A5/0, they wouldn't want to make this too obvious, so the simcard is set up to hide that information from the customer.

    Sent from my BlackBerry 9780 using Tapatalk
  2. gariac's Avatar
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    Thread AuthorThread Author   #2  

    Default Detecting tower encryption mode

    I guess we don't have any readers in India, or they can't get their phone in engineering screen mode.

    BTW, I left off the first line item to select to reach the cipher detection. This is the complete sequence.

    Mobile Network Engineering Screens ->
    Utilities ->
    Ciphering


    Sent from my BlackBerry 9780 using Tapatalk
  3. jeffh's Avatar
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    #3  

    Default Re: Detecting tower encryption mode

    I can get into the BlackBerry Engineering Screens, but I can't find Ciphering. It may not be available on Verizon networks.
  4. gariac's Avatar
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    Thread AuthorThread Author   #4  

    Default Detecting tower encryption mode

    CDMA doesn't have the same security "features" as GSM, with features in quotes since I don't consider having no security a feature! Thanks for trying.

    BTW, supposedly CDMA towers report their geographical coordinates. You might want to check that out on your engineering screen for yucks. I only mention that because GSM doesn't have that feature. Most apps that report GSM tower locations use a database provided by google since tower locations are not sent by the tower. This google database is horribly inaccurate.


    Sent from my BlackBerry 9780 using Tapatalk
  5. jeffh's Avatar
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    #5  

    Default Re: Detecting tower encryption mode

    I don't see anything in the Engineering Screens that looks like coordinates or tower location information. I thought GSM towers transmitted that info and CDMA towers did not. I don't have any experience with GSM devices.
  6. gariac's Avatar
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    Thread AuthorThread Author   #6  

    Default Detecting tower encryption mode

    It is the other way around. (CDMA yes, GSM no.)

    Check out
    www.cellumap.com
    http://f5bbutils.fairview5.com/signalloc5/

    Unfortunately Fairview no longer is working on cell tower sniffer software. Cellumap does a decent job, but it is more cloud oriented.

    A bit of a warning here on Cellumap. It puts all the phone information on its map. Because there aren't a lot of users of Cellumap, your phone looks unique. That is, you might be the only person using a Blackberry type X with OS Y. You still can't be identified UNLESS you run cellumap at your house. ;-) So beware when you hit the "send data" button. You wouldn't want to upload a hit at your house and then at some irreputable place like a bordello or Apple store.

    The "signal locator" from Fairview is useful because you can store the tower information on your mediacard. I used it in a area where I was roaming. I found a much stronger GSM service and logged the data on my phone. When I had the chance, I called T-mobile and gave them specific data on the tower. The next time I was there, I found T-Mobile added the company as a roaming partner.


    Sent from my BlackBerry 9780 using Tapatalk
  7. wu-wei's Avatar
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    #7  

    Default Re: Detecting tower encryption mode

    I'm on a GSM device and I'm showing A5/3 enabled. I don't know of any way (off hand) to set an alert for when it is disabled.

    I am also a fan of Fairview's utilities, but development has apparently stopped, and their latest version doesn't play well with my current OS.
  8. gariac's Avatar
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    Thread AuthorThread Author   #8  

    Default Detecting tower encryption mode

    You didn't state your country, but I assume the vast majority of us will be on A5/3. But if someone finds different encryption, please let us know what and where.

    Also if there is a BB10 developer reading this, perhaps they can indicate if the API allows the cipher to be detected. That is an app I would pay for, especially if it detected a sudden change. Or maybe RIM should incorporate a feature to warn of A5/0. One of the reasons I use a Blackberry is not to get hacked.



    Sent from my BlackBerry 9780 using Tapatalk
  9. iamq's Avatar
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    #9  

    Default Re: Detecting tower encryption mode

    You might find the phone displays a padlock, or a small warning on the home screen when it falls back to a lower cipher. I don't have any access to a test network at the moment to try it on the BB

    I have very very old GSM phones which give me a unlocked padlock icon on my old test network - that was default, no special firmware or anything. I believe its part of the spec to tell a user when the default (higher cipher) is not being used and if there is any crypto in use or the call is fully clear.
  10. tomdooley's Avatar
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    #10  

    Default Detecting tower encryption mode

    I'm from India, just checked, it's A5/3.

    Sent from my BlackBerry 9800 using Tapatalk
    If you think my post has helped you in any manner, kindly click the "Thank" button!

    BlackBerry Playbook 64GB + BlackBerry Torch 9800 + Samsung Galaxy Grand Duos GT-I9082.
  11. gariac's Avatar
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    Thread AuthorThread Author   #11  

    Default Detecting tower encryption mode

    Thanks for the India report. So much for what I read on the interwebs regarding A5/0 being used there..



    Sent from my BlackBerry 9780 using Tapatalk

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