By Catherine Cullen, Brigitte Bureau, CBC News
A months-long CBC News/Radio-Canada investigation has revealed that someone is using devices that track and spy on cellphones in the area around Parliament Hill.
The devices are known as IMSI catchers and have been used by Canadian police and security authorities, foreign intelligence and even organized crime.
- RCMP can spy on your cellphone, court records reveal
- Federal officials approved Winnipeg police efforts to buy spying devices
- Vancouver police admit using StingRay cellphone trackers: BCCLA
The devices, sometimes known by the brand name of one model, StingRay, work by mimicking a cellphone tower to interact with nearby phones and read the unique ID associated with the phone — the International Mobile Subscriber Identity, or IMSI.
That number can then be used to track the phone and by extension the phone’s user. In some instances, IMSI catchers can even be used to gain access to a phone’s text messages and listen in on calls.
At the heart of Canadian government
To do the investigation, our journalists used a device that detects IMSI catchers created by the German company GSMK. While it looks like a regular cellphone, the CryptoPhone emits an alert when a fake cellphone antenna intercepts its signal.
Media in the United States, Norway and Australia have done similar tests, but this is the first time it’s been used by a media outlet in Canada.
During tests in December and January, the CryptoPhone set off alerts at locations around Parliament Hill, including the nearby Byward Market, the Rideau Centre shopping mall and CBC offices in downtown Ottawa.
Because IMSI catchers have a radius of about half a kilometre in an urban setting, the IMSI catchers CBC detected could reach territory including Parliament Hill, the Prime Minister’s Office in Langevin Block, National Defence headquarters, as well as the U.S. and Israeli embassies.
We then used even more sophisticated equipment called an Overwatch Sensor that confirmed the presence of an IMSI catcher close to Parliament Hill.
Who is behind it?
We wanted to know more about who might be using the IMSI catcher or catchers that we detected, so we asked the U.S. supplier of the CryptoPhone to analyze the alerts we were getting.
ESD America specializes in counterintelligence and its clients include U.S. Homeland Security.
“Consistently you’ve been seeing IMSI catcher activity, definitely,” said CEO and co-founder Les Goldsmith, when we took our results to the company’s Las Vegas office.
Read More: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/imsi-cellphones-spying-ottawa-1.4050049?cid=