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How a Hacker Proved Cops Used a Secret Government Phone Tracker to Find Him


tao

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And how it might change what cops can do with our smartphones.

 

On a warm summer’s day in 2008, police spotted a man walking outside his apartment in Santa Clara, California, one of the many bedroom communities spread across Silicon Valley. Undercover FBI officers saw him outside the building and began following him on foot, radioing to their colleagues nearby. The man saw the agents, and so he began to walk quickly. They followed suit.

 

After months of tracking him via sting bank accounts and confidential informants, the officers had their man. He had told the apartment complex’s manager that he was Steven Travis Brawner, software engineer: a profile that fit right in with many other tenants in the area. But at the time of his arrest, officers didn’t know his real name: After watching his activities at a distance, they called him simply the “Hacker.” Between 2005 and 2008, federal investigators believed that the Hacker and two other men filed over 1,900 fake tax returns online, yielding $4 million sent to over 170 bank accounts.

 

The Hacker was found out through the warrantless use of a secretive surveillance technology known as a stingray, which snoops on cell phones. Stingrays, or cell-site simulators, act as false cell phone towers that trick phones into giving up their location. They have become yet another tool in many agencies’ toolbox, and their use has expanded with little oversight—and no public knowledge that they were even being used until the Hacker went on an obsessive quest to find out just how law enforcement tracked him that summer day. When he tugged on that thread, he found out something else: that police might be tracking a lot more than we even know on our phones, often without the warrants that are usually needed for comparable methods of invasive surveillance.

 

The Hacker began breathing more heavily. He may have thought about heading toward the nearby train station, which would take him out of town, or perhaps towards the San Jose International Airport, just three miles away. The Hacker couldn’t be sure if there were cops following him, or if he was just being paranoid. But as soon as he saw the marked Santa Clara Police Department cars, he knew the truth, and he started running.

 

But the Hacker didn’t get far. He was quickly surrounded, arrested and searched. The police found the key to the Hacker’s apartment. Later, after police obtained a warrant to search his apartment, they found there a folding chair and a folding table that served as a desk. There was no other furniture—his bed was a cot. Law enforcement also found his Verizon Wireless mobile Internet AirCard, and false driver’s licenses with the names “Steven Travis Brawner,” “Patrick Stout” and more. A 2010 FBI press release later stated that the agency also “seized a laptop and multiple hard drives, $116,340 in cash, over $208,000 in gold coins, approximately $10,000 in silver coins, false identification documents, false identification manufacturing equipment, and surveillance equipment.”

[...]

 

If interested, please read the rather long article < here >.

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so he was breaking the law... stealing and doing way more other bad stuff...much more than than pirating a movie or a song or software... I see not much  wrong with using this technology to get him... sort of like a bank robber from 1920 complaining an off-duty cop caught him red-handed robbing a bank so, therefore, he should go free because the cop was not in uniform and therefore not recognizable as a cop ...so he was breaking the law....the stingray was targeting a specific person not wholesale collecting and analyzing thousands of people

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This article is not concerned with right/wrong,  guilty/not-guilty, or breaking-the-law issues.   ;)

 

Cheers!   :drunk:

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DiscHammer

Stingrays masquerade as cell towers. Everyone nearby will be switched to it. Through multiple grabs over a period of time they are able to determine a smaller and smaller group of ESNs to target, eventualy allowing a specific phone to be targeted. The issue become not only the warrantless invasion of the target's phone (seriously, they could have sought a John Doe warrant at the least), but the invasion of the privacy of all who pass within range and get switched to the fake tower as well as violation of several FCC regulations, as the device can constitute harmful interference ...

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and lo and behold.... they are finding them anywhere near the president of the USA frequents and is known to use his unprotected personal cell phones for voice chat....AND  his twitter account...hmmmm interesting is that not:lol:

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