How to catch an IMSI catcher

I have a theory. If scumbag speculators indeed use drones with IMSI catchers, or IMSI catchers at all, to intercept victim phone calls, and perhaps even to cross those phone calls with “calls” of verbal abuse, how can we catch them?

What better way to catch an IMSI catcher than with anther IMSI catcher? Maybe there’s a use for police stingrays after all. An IMSI catcher, being a man-in-the-middle attack, intercepts calls by having greater proximity to the victim cellular phone than does the satellite (Ask Hackaday: Stopping the Stingray, http://hackaday.com/2014/12/23/ask-hackaday-stopping-the-stingray/). It intercepts the call but must handle it by connecting it to service. Maybe a bigger fish like a stingray can intercept an IMSI catcher. Perhaps a stingray with the right technology can intercept a satellite phone that makes it easy for criminals like real estate mobbers to hide their identity while they phreak your smart phone.

Both in northeast Seattle over the waters of Lake Washington, and near the Albany-Berkeley border in the East Bay where I have been staying as I work a new contract in San Francisco, I see lit objects hovering in the night sky, objects that appear to be a few drones scattered around. IMSI catchers are an invaluable tool for rogue drones whose purpose is surveillance, hacking, and harassment, using methods that are not well known or even recognized by their victims or by local police.

In the Bay Area there is greater concern about privacy invasions. Perhaps if suspicion on the part of East Bay denizens doesn’t lead to investigation into drones that hover over residential neighborhoods night after night, the scumbag speculators who harass people out of their homes by combining cell phone “mobbing” (bullying) with the methods of dirty private investigators (parabolic loudspeakers or LRADs), will be caught in the net of larger prey, maybe even a stingray. And if not an IMSI catcher, in lieu of drone radar and transponders, perhaps police forces that use drones should make a point of intercepting and photographing unknown drones to begin to study how they are being equipped, modified and used, and how they are becoming involved in digital crimes.

Perhaps it’s time that investigators like the FBI beat the mobbers at their own game.

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