Russia’s Electronic Warfare Troops Catch NATO Spying on Russian Cellphones, Create Countermeasures

© Sputnik / Александр ВильфRussian officer on Red Square during repetition of Victory Day Parade, file photo.
Russian officer on Red Square during repetition of Victory Day Parade, file photo. - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.04.2022
The use of civilian telephony for military and intelligence purposes has long been a major concern for counterintelligence services. The Russian military has implemented a special system aimed at preventing unauthorised access to the information of Russia-based cellular subscribers.
NATO intelligence services have deployed a capability allowing them to listen in on or block the communications of Russian cellular subscribers, forcing Moscow to create countermeasures, Russian Electronic Warfare Troops chief Yuri Lastochkin has revealed.
“The widespread use of cellular communications systems to support the activities of the Russian Defence Ministry and various organs of executive power have contributed to the formation of a new area of activity for foreign intelligence. Already today, the special services of NATO countries are actively using false base stations to forcibly connect cellular subscribers. By doing so, specialists of foreign intelligence services receive the opportunity to not only listen to cell phones and view text messages, but also selectively block subscribers and deceive them by sending false messages,” the officer said in an interview with the military’s official newspaper, Krasnaya Zvezda, on Friday.
To counter this threat, specialists from the Electronic Warfare Troops’ Research Center have developed technology to counter such unauthorized access, Lastochkin said.
“The system detects the false base station, determines its location, blocks the technical channel through which information is leaked and restores communication with a legitimate base station of a cellular operator of the 2G, 3G or 4G standard,” the commander said. A similar system is said to be being developed for 5G, he noted.
The system’s use is expected to significantly increase the security of critical MoD facilities from foreign snooping, Lastochkin said.
The extent to which cellular and internet communications can be compromised by intelligence services was first detailed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden in 2013. The whistleblower revealed that in addition to targeted snooping of potential adversaries and security threats, the NSA had developed the capability to engage in the bulk collection of cellphone data of ordinary Americans, and even the ability to track cellphone locations worldwide.
Last year, media reported that Pegasus, an Israeli-made military-grade spyware capable of taking control of phones without users knowing it, was used extensively to target over 50,000 people worldwide, including multiple heads of state, opposition leaders, journalists and activists. The scandal once again brought to the forefront the theme of information security in an increasingly interconnected, digital world.
Pegasus. - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.07.2021
How to Search for, Spot and Stamp Out Pegasus Spyware From Your Phone
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