In the months since Russia invaded Ukraine, Russian soldiers have made thousands of cell phone calls.
As the battle dragged on, soldiers called their loved ones complaining about the invasion.
Soldiers described how they were lied to about the war. They also complained of a lack of equipment and supplies.
Some soldiers admitted to killing innocent civilians. And some even called Putin a fool for ordering the invasion.
But these Russian soldiers had no idea that someone was listening in: The Ukrainian government.
There are a large number of Russian soldiers who bring their cell phones to the front lines.
But because the calls go through Ukrainian telecommunications providers, they are being intercepted over the air by Ukrainian officials.
And the massive number of calls, taken together, provides a picture of the weaknesses of the Russian military.
The fact is, cell phones are incredibly insecure. As Russian soldiers have shown, it’s simple for governments or hackers to intercept calls.
With that being said, here are a few big reasons cell phone calls are so risky.
Too much access:
If you have a smartphone, you are giving a lot of people access to your phone.
You – knowingly or not – share your data with manufacturers, operating systems, and app makers.
Let’s say you have twenty apps on your smartphone, that is twenty companies that you are sharing data with.
This doesn’t include third-party apps that have purchased your data, or hackers that could hack an app to get into your phone.
Different forms of communication:
Cell phones use several different forms of communication. A few of these methods are SMS, MMS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GSM.
The problem is that each of these forms of communication has its security vulnerabilities.
In addition, the network providers also have protocols with security weaknesses.
For example, 3G is an older cell phone network. Since it is outdated more than half of phone calls made on 3G networks can easily be intercepted.
In addition to lacking security, some of these communication forms can be targeted with spyware.
For instance, the infamous Pegasus hacker software could read texts and track calls.
Fake cell towers:
There have been fake cell towers found across the U.S. At one point, security researchers found at least 45 fake towers.
These towers disguise themselves as legitimate stations so that nearby cell phones provide their unique access information.
Once a cell connects to a fake tower, the tower can turn off encryption and pass on the traffic to a real tower.
So, the cell continues to use voice and data, without realizing that the data is being intercepted.
The thing is, even cell phones using the latest 4G or 5G can fall victim to fake towers.
The reality is that hackers and governments will always be looking for ways to collect data, and cell phones contain a treasure trove of information on their users.
From where a person has traveled, to what pictures they take, to what their plans are, etc. It’s usually all contained in their phones, right there for the taking.