How secure is your phone network? Ask this app

Just how easy is it for the government to listen in on your cell phone calls or track your location without you even knowing it?

 

Patrick Howell O'Neill

Tech

Published Aug 18, 2014   Updated May 30, 2021, 6:20 pm CDT

Just how easy is it for the government to listen in on your cell phone calls or track your location without you even knowing it?

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A newly built app called Darshak aims to answer that question. The app, whose name means “looker” in Hindi, shows you how secure your cell phone network is and if there is any suspicious activity on the network that would be used to track you.

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Ravishankar Borgaonk, a mobile security researcher in Germany, says Darshak can detect surveillance activity like Silent SMS, an invisible text message that sends back a signal to the sender of the message giving away the target’s location. Silent SMS is used hundreds of thousands of times every year to track missing and wanted individuals.

Darshak can show you in real time just how secure your cell phone provider is keeping your calls by displaying, for instance, the level of encryption used to guard your calls against eavesdropping.

With @raviborgaonkar‘s new app, you can see if your phone network is strongly encrypting your calls (not likely) https://t.co/0xKjLWT4VA

— Christopher Soghoian (@csoghoian) August 18, 2014

Borgaonk worked with Swapnil Udar, an academic in Finland, on the development of Darshak. The program was released just hours ago and is only available on Galaxy S3 phones operating on 3G and GSM networks at the moment, with improvements and added features planned for the near future. The source code is freely available to view and play with here.

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Photo via Houang Stephane (CC BY 2.0)

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*First Published: Aug 18, 2014, 12:10 pm CDT