Hackers Can Listen To Calls Knowing Only Your Phone Number

Last night's "60 Minutes" broadcast on CBS showed how a team of hackers in Germany was able hack a U.S. Congressman's cellphone, listen to his calls and track his movements with his mobile phone number.

The Berlin-based team is made up of white-hat hackers who look for computer and device vulnerabilities so they can be fixed. They were able to access a test phone provided to U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu of California by using the global phone carrier network called Signaling System Seven (SS7).

However, critics of the 60 Minutes report said the SS7 network is not one that most hackers have access to, meaning the vulnerability is not one most people need to be concerned about. They also said the SS7 vulnerability is not a new discovery or development.

Individual Security Settings Have 'No Influence'

During last night's broadcast, Sharyn Alfonsi reported that German hacker Karsten Nohl and his team at Security Research Labs had legal permission from several phone carriers to access the SS7 network for their vulnerability research. "[T]he carriers wanted Nohl to test the network's vulnerability to attack," the report stated. "That's because criminals have proven they can get into SS7."

Nohl demonstrated how his team was able to listen in on Lieu's phone calls and even track his movements through the device's GPS chip. He noted the SS7 vulnerability isn't one that individual device owners can control through their security settings.

"[A]ny choices that a congressman could've made, choosing a phone, choosing a pin number, installing or not installing certain apps, have no influence over what we are showing because this is targeting the mobile network," Nohl told 60 Minutes. "That of course, is not controlled by any one customer."

Hoping Media Attention Leads to Fix

Following last night's broadcast, some users on Reddit offered some criticisms about...

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