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Saturday, June 2, 2018

DHS Confirms "Rogue" Cellular Eavesdropping Device May Have Been Used Near White House

The Department of Homeland Security has confirmed that a device used to eavesdrop on cell phones and other electronic devices was detected near the White House, prompting concerns that it may have been used to spy on key government officials - including President Trump's non-secure iPhones
 
The letter from DHS official Christopher Krebs hilariously begins by thanking Oregon Senator Ron Wyden (D) for meeting with him "to discuss your objection to Senate consideration of the President's nomination for me to serve as the Under Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD)." 
Krebs' letter is a follow-up to an April communication with Wyden in which he revealed that "anomalous activity" was detected in Washington D.C. consistent with "Stingray" surveillance devices during an NPPD pilot program. 
In a new response posted by Senator Wyden, Krebs admits that "While the NPPD pilot did observe anomolous activity that appeared consistent with IMSI catcher technology within the NCR, including locations in proximity to potentially sensitive facilities like the White House, NPPD has neither validated nor attributed such activity to specific entities, devices, or purposes." 
In other words - someone was probably trying to spy on the White House and other "sensitive facilities," but DHS has no clue who it was or why they did it. 
Another DHS official who spoke anonymously to AP in April said that the devices were detected during a three-month trial of equipment provided by Las Vegas-based agency contractor, ESD America.


The Stingray units operate by tricking a cellular device into locking onto them instead of a legitimate cell tower - revealing the exact location of a particular phone. As AP notes, more sophisticated versions can eavesdrop on calls by forcing phones to step down to the older, unencrypted 2G wireless channel. Other Stingray devices can plant malware on a phone.

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