A recent report published by Techcrunch has revealed that newer broadband cellular network technologies including 4G and 5G are vulnerable to a number of privacy attacks.
The discovery, made by a team of researchers at Purdue University, Iowa, enables attackers to track phone locations and intercept calls using Side Channel Information.
The latest generation of mobile communications, 5G promises faster internet speeds and protection against “Stingrays”, which mimic cell phone towers and trick mobile phones into connecting to them.
The paper published by the researchers states that “any person having little knowledge of cellular paging protocols can carry out attacks using this vulnerability”.
The team is all set to share their findings at the Network and Distributed System Security Symposium being held in San Francisco today.
The paper details three different types of attacks that exploit different vulnerabilities. Firstly, an attack that targets the paging protocol that is used by carriers to notify devices prior to receiving texts or calls.
Referred to as “Torpedo”, the attack involves placing several calls to a victims device that are canceled immediately.
This generates a paging message without alerting the device to an incoming call or text using which the victim’s device can be tracked, spoof messages can be sent and messages can be blocked altogether.
Torpedo can be used to make two other types of attacks namely IMSI Cracking Attack and Piercer.
Piercer allows the attacker to determine the International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) of a device while IMSI cracking involves brute forcing encrypted IMSI numbers in both 4G and 5G networks.
The researchers noted that the attacks could be carried out using radio equipment worth just $200 and may pose a serious threat to most carriers.