Private Surveillance System Companies offering surveillance solutions for law enforcement and intelligence agencies across the world, the surveillance tools are only for governments. These surveillance systems have the ability to track the movements of almost any person who carries a cellphone – here or abroad. These surveillance industries are so poorly regulated and exceedingly secretive that their surveillance tools can easily make their way into the hands of repressive organizations.
We ourselves give an open invitation to such companies as we all have sensors in our pockets that track our every movement wherever we go. The world’s most powerful intelligence services, such as the National Security Agency and Britain’s GCHQ, have used cellphone data to track targets around the globe. But experts say these new systems allow less technically advanced governments to track people in any nation including the United States with relative ease and precision.
The tracking technology works by exploiting an essential fact of all cellular networks ie; Signalling System Number 7 which is a protocol suite used by most cellular operators across world to communicate with one another. It allows cell phone carriers to collect location information from cell phone towers and share it with each other. They must keep detailed, up-to-the-minute records on the locations of their customers to deliver calls and other services to them. Surveillance systems are secretly collecting these records to map people’s travels over days, weeks or longer, according to company marketing documents and experts in surveillance technology.
The Washington Post published an article on surveillance technology that can track cell phone users anywhere in the world. Surveillance vendors also now have access to SS7 protocol, so that their customers can home in on somebody’ locations as precisely as within a couple of city blocks (or in rural areas, a couple of miles).
These systems are so effective that it can even detect how fast a person on a city street is walking, or the speed a person’s car is travelling. The system was built decades ago, when only a few large carriers controlled the bulk of global phone traffic. Now thousands of companies use SS7 to provide services to billions of phones and other mobile devices, security experts say.
All of these companies have access to the network and can send queries to other companies on the SS7 system, making the entire network more vulnerable to exploitation. Any one of these companies could share its access with others, including makers of surveillance systems.
SS7 TRACKING SYSTEM PAIRED UP WITH ‘ IMSI CATCHERS’
It is believed that many countries have bought these surveillance technology in the last few years. Having a close look at such Surveillance System, it has been discovered that some of the Surveillance companies that sell SS7 tracking system are advising their customers to pair them with “IMSI catchers” or StingRays.
StingRays are common surveillance devices that allow law enforcement agencies to mimic a cell phone tower, and track users position who connect to it, and sometimes even intercept calls and Internet traffic, send fake texts, install spyware on a phone, and determine precise locations.
What’s interesting about this story is not that the cell phone system can track your location worldwide,” said Bruce Schneier, a senior security researcher. “That makes sense; the system has to know where you are. What’s interesting about this story is that anyone can do it.”
Privacy advocates are not only worried by governments getting their hands on these systems, but also about hackers and criminal gangs using such systems.