Covert Cellular Eavesdropping Device Poses as a Printer

The security expert Julian Oliver has devised a cellular eavesdropping device that poses as an old printer, learn more about it by reading on.

Cellular Eavesdropping Device Poses as a Printer

The computer expert Julain Oliver has demonstrated that cellular eavesdropping can efficiently be hidden from plain sight. He has devised a new proof-of-concept strategy that places these devices by disguising them in an old printer.

His project is named as Stealth Cell Tower, its description states that “It brings the covert design practice of disguising cellular infrastructure as other things – like trees and lamp-posts – indoors, while mimicking technology used by police and intelligence agencies to surveil mobile phone users”

The hidden appliances are actually clever IMSI catchers. They masquerade as regular cell towers thereby hijacking all phone communication – Messages, phone calls and Internet traffic. The configured printer is actually used to print a transcript of every captured message alongside the unique victim’s IMSI number and other information that is used to identify them.

The used components in the construction of the cellular eavesdropping project are based on a HP Laserjet 1320 printer which has been modified to contain and power the equipment that makes up the whole of the IMSI catcher and its associated peripherals:

  • BladeRF x40
  • Raspberry Pi 3
  • 2x short GSM omnidirectional antennae with magnetic base
  • 2x SMA cable
  • Cigarette-lighter-to-USB-charger circuit (converting 12-24v to 5v)
  • 1x USB Micro cable (cut and soldered to output of USB charger)
  • 1x USB A cable (cut and soldered to printer mainboard)

This exact model was chosen because it has an unremarkable appearance and a minimal amount of effort was needed to accommodate the components. No components other than the standard power cord are externally visible to any outside users.

The printer can also fully function without any problems if an user wants to use its printing capabilities. The Raspberry Pi3 was chosen for the project after several tests with other competitor computers of this scale.

The software is based on the open-source code of YateBTS which has been modified by the developer.

IMSI catchers are the most widely used mechanism for incorporating cellular eavesdropping and by definition it is considered a man-in-the-middle-attack. Such elaborate schemes can be quite dangerous if the attackers want to instigate damage against unsuspecting targets.

This specific approach can be used to fool a lot of users as the printer is fully functional and does not give away any indication that the device is rogue.

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Author : Martin Beltov

Martin graduated with a degree in Publishing from Sofia University. As a cyber security enthusiast he enjoys writing about the latest threats and mechanisms of intrusion.

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