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A month-long Silver News/Radio-Canada investigation found that devices called IMSI catchers were being used to spy on cellphones near Parliament Hill.
A News/Radio-Canada investigation has found that a man at the heart of Canadian democracy is using cell phone tracking devices. (Adrian Wilde/The Canadian Press)
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A months-long News/Radio-Canada investigation found someone was using spying equipment to track cellphones around Parliament Hill.
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These devices, known as IMSI catchers, are used by Canadian police and security authorities; Foreign intelligence and even criminals used them.
The devices, sometimes known by the brand name of one model StingRay, mimic a cellphone tower to communicate with nearby phones and read the unique ID associated with the phone — International Mobile Subscriber Identity, or IMSI.
That number can later be used to track the phone and trace the user of the phone. In some cases, IMSI catchers can be used to access a phone’s text messages and listen in on calls.
To investigate; Our reporters used an IMSI catcher detector developed by the German company GSMK. Although it looks like a normal mobile phone, CryptoPhone emits an alert when a fake cell phone antenna interferes with its signal.
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Media organizations in the US, Norway and Australia have conducted similar tests, but this is the first time a Canadian media outlet has used it.
In tests in December and January, CryptoFone was launched in the nearby Byward Market; Alerts have been posted in locations around Parliament Hill, including the Rideau Center shopping mall and offices in downtown Ottawa.
ESD America’s cryptophone – bought by Radio-Canada – detects when an IMSI catcher tries to intercept it. ()
The IMSI catchers are half a kilometer away in an urban area, so the IMSI catchers are on Parliament Hill, the Prime Minister’s office in the Langevin block; It can reach areas including the National Defense Headquarters, US and Israeli embassies.
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He then used more sophisticated equipment called the Overwatch sensor, which confirmed the presence of an IMSI catcher near Parliament Hill.
We wanted to learn more about who was using the IMSI catcher or catcher devices we discovered, so we asked CryptoPhone’s US distributor to analyze the alerts we were receiving.
CEO and co-founder Les Goldsmith said of the results at the company’s Las Vegas office.
We have described the part of the city where IMSI hideouts were found full of politicians, political activists and civil servants.
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Who could be behind it? Goldsmith IMSI Catchers Call Law Enforcement; It is used by federal agencies, organized crime and foreign intelligence, Goldsmith said.
“We see IMSI catchers with different configurations that we can produce a signature. So we see more potential IMSI catchers from China, Russia, Israel, etc.,” he said.
He knows a lot about IMSI catchers from the Canadian Security Agency. We agreed to conceal his identity so as not to compromise that security operation.
“An MP or person working on Parliament Hill can be identified as a potential victim of this type of attack,” he said. It undermines our sovereignty,” he said.
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Areas in black are locations where IMSI catchers were detected by Ottawa / Radio-Canada. Circles show the range IMSI catchers can cover. ()
“We discovered that Russian intelligence had IMSI-capturing devices parked near CSIS. After X count, the phones were on for eight hours a day, so the IMSI numbers of intelligence officials could be identified. In one place.”
He said the Russians will use the IMSI catcher to check if they are near Canadian intelligence-related numbers when they conduct their next covert operation. If there is, it will stop working.
A representative of the Chinese Embassy said that this was not only unreasonable but also irresponsible.
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Our security expert says the IMSI catchers we see are Canada’s Electronic Espionage Agency; It is suggested that this may be the work of a local agency, such as the Telecommunications Security Agency.
“One possibility is that the telecommunications security firm ordered surveillance as a defensive measure to protect the network,” he said.
“To be clear, by law, CSE’s activities are not permitted to be directed by Canadians anywhere or with anyone else in Canada,” the statement said, adding that CSE respects the law.
IMSI catchers act as cell phone towers to attract nearby cell signals, the unique ID number associated with your phone. To intercept the International Mobile Subscriber Identity or IMSI. ()
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Last June, the RCMP revealed that it uses IMSI catchers in its operations. Quebec’s Supreme Court has lifted a publication ban to reveal that police are using the technology as part of their investigation into the death of Salvatore (Sal the Ironworker) Montagna, a high-ranking New York crime family member killed outside Montreal in 2011. .
The records also show the RCMP received court approval to use an IMSI capture device known as a Mobile Device Interceptor, or MDI.
Recent court cases may also highlight how reluctant police are to discuss the use of their devices. Last month, federal prosecutors announced the indictment of nearly 50 people in an operation targeting the Montreal mafia, 3 dozen people.
The Crown attorney told reporters that the evidence gathered by the RCMP raised “unprecedented legal questions” but declined to comment further.
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Some privacy experts believe the Crown is concerned about whether the use of IMSI capture devices — including the debate over how the data is collected — will hold up in court.
Municipal police are also using the technology. Vancouver police admitted to renting an RCMP IMSI capture device in 2007 and said they would use the technology again.
Winnipeg Police in 2016; Durham Regional Police; Ontario Provincial Police and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service have obtained a license from federal public safety officials to purchase an IMSI capture device, according to reports.
Security agencies should ask the police if the IMSI catchers we found are involved; I contacted embassies and central government.
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Department of Public Safety; Ottawa Police Department; The RCMP and CSIS gave similar responses: they did not discuss specific investigative techniques, but they followed the law, respected the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and followed due process.
They point to a lack of transparency when Canadians only learned in 2017 that the RCMP has had an IMSI catcher since 2005.
Theresa Scasa, Canada Research Chair in Information Law at the University of Ottawa, said Ottawa’s use of IMSI catchers is “very concerning.” ()
Do authorities always issue warrants? They said it was not clear. Scasa said they still have questions about information about others caught up in the investigation.
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“Was it destroyed? Stored? Used for other purposes? It’s not always clear that warranties contain provisions requiring specific information and actions at a later date.”
Since many groups may have access to IMSI catchers, Scasa argues there is only so much the government can do to protect Canadians’ privacy.
Agencies using IMSI capture devices believe that under what circumstances they should obtain a warrant whenever the devices are used. According to the report, hacking tools are being used on Apple and Android smartphones in Italy and Kazakhstan. Photo: Alexander Spatari/Getty Images
Alphabet Inc’s Google said in a new report that an Italian company used hacking tools to spy on Apple and Android smartphones in Italy and Kazakhstan.
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Milan-based RCS Lab developed tools to spy on private messages and contacts of targeted devices on a website that claims European law enforcement agencies as customers, the report said.
“These vendors enable the proliferation of malicious hacking tools in-house, by governments that have not developed these capabilities in-house,” Google said.
The governments of Italy and Kazakhstan did not immediately respond to requests for comment. An Apple spokesperson said the company has revoked all known accounts and signatures associated with this hacking campaign.
“RCS Labs staff are not exposed to and are not involved in activities conducted by relevant customers,” it told Reuters in an email, condemning the misuse of its products.
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Google has taken steps to protect users of the Android operating system, warning about spyware known as Hermit.
There is a growing global industry producing spyware for governments. Companies develop interceptors for law enforcement. Counterintelligence activists accuse governments of aiding and in some cases using tools;
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