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Stealth PatriotAug 17, 2018, 12:00:04 AM


I did a post on this topic at the beginning of this year on Minds, and at the request of some of my subscribers here is the blog version, and my very first blog at that. In the future I will be blogging about some other of my posts I did on Minds as well. This is an important issue everyone (especially my fellow Americans) should be made aware of is occuring on a daily basis, and how digital privacy is slowly being eroded. Not surprisingly, the mainstream media sources and those in authority have remained mostly silent on this. If you own any kind of mobile device (smartphone, laptop etc) and believe in a right to privacy, this should concern you deeply. 

Police agencies around the US are using a surveillance tool known as Stingrays, which can mimic cell phone signals to get access to mobile device contents. Originally designed for use on foreign battlefields to combat terrorism, these spying devices have found their way into the hands of US Government agencies and Law Enforcement. Police agencies in particular have gone through great lengths to keep information about how the Stingrays are being used from defense attorneys, judges, and of course the public. Through extensive nondisclosure agreements, the Federal Government has been able to prevent the disclosing of details about how Stingrays are being used, and could/have even order evidence withheld or entire cases dropped during criminal trials to protect the secrecy of the spy devices. Aside from violating Constitutionally protected rights (in particular the Fourth Amendment), this exposes a lack of accountability and transparency among Law Enforcement agencies at both the state and local levels, and raises serious questions about the security of our individual rights as the Government's technological capibilities rapidly advances. On LE's part there has been refusal to honor freedom of information requests, deceit towards courts and judges and the general public, only exacerbating these unconstitutional spying campaigns. The Fourth Amendment requirement for a warrant for probable cause has been sidestepped. 

Stingray IMSI catchers can either be in the form of a tower that looks similar to a genuine phone tower, or a mobile bundle that vaguely resembles a radio system. IMSI catchers force all nearby cell phones within a given area to connect to them instead of genuine cell towers, and once a device connects a location for the targeted device can be triangulated using its IMSI information. Also once connected, a Stingray could extract just about all forms of data stored on the phone from live monitoring of phone calls text messages and emails, to data from certain apps and stored encryption keys.

Details on these spying devices first leaked to the public back in 2013 after a drug deal involving three men raised the suspicions of some advocacy groups. In short, two men made an arrangement with a drug dealer to meet in person, and once they met up the two men robbed the drug dealer at gun point and ran off. The suspects were caught and brought into custody, and sufficient evidence was present to convict them of the crime. The curious part however that caught the attention of some and in this case the defense attorney, was how quick the police were able to identify and locate the suspects in a rather short amount of time. When the two suspects went to court for the first time, the defense attorney starting asking questions that made the prosecution uneasy. There was a minimum three years and a maximum of thirty years in prison for armed robbery that involved drugs in that case, and with all the evidence against the defendants it would have seemed the prosecution had the case lock stock and barrel. In the end, the defendants were offered a plea bargain consisting of just a couple years of probation. A stingray was used illegally to obtain the locations and phone/text conversations of the two defendants, and Law Enforcement knew that if the case went to trial the defense would have pressured the prosecution on details about how the police were able to locate the suspects so quickly, and details on the Stingray would had to have been revealed. The police did not want that to happen, so they pressured the prosecutor to give them a plea bargain that avoided jail time. It is important to note that the Federal Government was involved as well, and groups like the NSA FBI and CIA work closely with LE in most states in making sure the details of such surveillance tools are not made known to the general public. There have been enough documented cases of potentially dangerous criminals that were released back onto the streets or given good plea deals to protect this secret, just to defend a LE tactic that serves as a work around due process and separation of power barriers. 

IMSI catchers operate in both active and passive modes. Some active mode operations are extracting stored data such as the cell carrier, force an increase in signal transmission power, interception of communication(s) content, tracking and locating devices, execute a denial of service attack, encryption key(s) extraction, and radio jamming. Using over-the-air signals to identify cell sites and map coverage areas is about the only passive mode operation. So summed up, stingray devices can interrupt and ultimately cut-off communications on targeted devices and extract data even when said devices are locked. 

To date, there is not much one could do to protect mobile devices from these fake cell phone towers, although I heard there are some products on the market that supposedly defend against those types of surveillance tactics. There are a few mobile apps that claim to detect stingrays and warn a user if and when one is attempting to connect your device to it, but most of them contain ads and spamware and can't guarantee proper function. There is one app that I know of for Android only called AIMSICD that was created as an open source project by an independent group that works by community usage of the app and reporting fake towers. I cannot tell for sure if that app is still being maintained or not, but it must still be operational as I had used it not too long ago to detect a fake tower about seven miles from where I live, and it worked perfectly. VPN's or Orbot would be relatively ineffective, as once a stingray connects to your device it could get access to your cell carrier directly. Perhaps the best defense against illegal surveillance tactics would be to spread the word about them to everyone you know and encourage them to take this issue up with their local representatives. Take to different social media platforms and voice your opinion on the matter. Nothing will change as long as everyone remains silent and accepting, and big brother surely isn't going to cease using technology to suit their own agenda. We the people need to stand up for our rights, before they are totally eradicated.