Here at International Investigators, we routinely get asked about cellular malware and how it is installed. One of the most common questions is if cell phone spyware can be installed on a cellular device Can Spyware Be Installed On My Cell Phone Wirelessly?
Wirelessly. The answer: YES. So, how does one go about installing malware on a phone if they don’t have physical access? Well, there are several ways this can be done and one of which is an IMSI catcher. The police and some of the big three letter spooky agencies use commercially manufactured IMSI catchers such as the Stingray which is built by the Harris Corporation. We won’t get into the actual capabilities of the Stingray as there are legal ramifications in doing so, however, we can talk a little about what an IMSI catcher is able to do in general.
First of all, unlike their commercial brothers which can cost tens of thousands of dollars, DIY catchers can be built for under $100. These devices possess the ability to pose as a cell phone tower and act as a MITM (Man-In-The-Middle) attack by getting data from the phone prior to the service provider. They essentially trick the cellular device into thinking it is connecting to a stronger cell tower and therefore use its connection to provide service to its user. Once the phone connects to the IMSA catcher the perpetrator now has significant access to the users’ information and can even possess the ability to install malware on the target device.
We will not go into detail on how to build one of these devices and will not assist anybody in building one in any way, but rest assured they are easy and cheap to build and can be very effective. The scariest part is that having your phone set into airplane mode, disabling your data connection or even turning your phone off does not prevent an IMSA catcher from hacking your cellular device. So now that you know you phone could have cell phone spyware on it without your knowledge what do you do?
Our digital forensic lab employs some of the best computer forensic experts as well as cellular forensic experts in the country. The level of forensic analysis required is dependent on the case specifics but we have the capability to assist with virtually any case. Cell tower triangulation, cell phone spying, computer forensic investigations, and forensic data recovery are just a small part of our investigations.
-T. Wilcox, CEO, International Investigators
-B. McGinley, Director of Operations, International Investigators