Comprehensive Voice Security      

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                                   General Eavesdropping/Wiretapping

Security Challenges for Phone Systems

Telecommunication systems were not designed to be secure but to serve simply as a communication medium. The insecure nature of “plain old telephone service” (POTS), “public switched telephone networks” (PSTN), mobile phones, and now “voice over internet protocol” (VOIP) are easy target vectors for corporate espionage, accidental and malicious eavesdropping. The internet is a simple resource to find eavesdropping tools and applications; they are becoming very simple to use even for non-technical users.
Several countries have passed legislation to help protect consumer's privacy, but only serves as a deterrent. Organized crime and malicious users can acquire specialized hardware devices for a nominal amount designed to compromise phone and wireless communication.
Most are as easy to use as a standard radio set.

Here some standard methods used for Wiretapping:

Wiretapping Traditional Land/Fixed Lines
Traditional land-lines are generally "wire-tapped" by connecting an audio or recording device in parallel to the phone line. The line can be tapped anywhere between the caller and receiver. The telephone connection or junction box is a popular target due to easy access to exposed phone lines and connections; Phone carrier's junction boxes or "trunks" also are targets for the same considerations. Private investigators, law enforcement, government agencies, or attackers have many options to compromise land/fixed line communications.

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Phone Carriers and Privacy

Another common source for wire-tapping is at the Phone Carrier level, where access to thousands of phone lines, transmission equipment and computers can be accessed to eavesdrop upon phone conversations. Phone carriers often have hundreds if not thousands of employees, and contractors. Phone carriers regularly use contracted call centers, service providers and other business affiliates which all may have access to sensitive phone equipment and confidential information used for eavesdropping. Rogue employees or proponents of industrial espionage have many opportunities to compromise phone security directly or via social engineering.  In addition, Government and law enforcement can legally request access to  wire-tap phone conversations, and Phone Carriers generally must comply according to their respective governing law. Phone Carriers pose a great potential risk to the privacy of businesses, and individuals.

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Government and Law Enforcement
Most government and law enforcement agencies retain specific rights to legally eavesdrop in the interest of national security or other interests such as curbing criminal activity; this process may inadvertently impose upon your  privacy.  As Government and Law Enforcement  agencies employ thousands, recent documented cases of abuse by government officials and law enforcement raise concern for phone privacy. Individuals must maintain awareness and consider their options to ensure privacy and confidentiality.

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Mobile Phones & IMSI Catcher
IMSI Catcher (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) is a device designed to exploit an authentication weakness in the GSM architecture. It simply acts as a legitimate base station for mobile phones to connect to and act as a conduit to the "cell network," while compromising the security making it very easy for an attacker to eavesdrop on the call. It works by emitting a strong reception signal leading mobile phones to believe it offers the best quality connection but in fact completely removing any security and privacy of the phone conversation. IMSI catcher represents a simple man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack; Devices are readily available for less than $1000 USD.

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Mobile Phones & Radio Scanners
Legacy systems and outdated infrastructure found in many countries pose privacy risks for cell phone users. These systems may transmit with weak encryption, analog signals or simply in the clear making it very easy to eavesdrop via a standard or specialized radio frequency scanner. Scanners are used repeatedly to listen to emergency service frequencies, radio chatter from trade professionals, and other industries which commonly use radio (walkie-talkie) based communications.

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Mobile Phones & Trojan horses / Viruses
Smart-phone technology continues to evolve at incredible speeds offering advanced features for web browsing, email, office productivity and entertainment. While the breadth of features increase, the security risks grow exponentially. Viruses have been written and targeted for all the major phone manufacturers in recent years and a few were specifically designed for eavesdropping purposes. Viruses are often designed to provide easy access to the compromised system for additional applications such as rootkits allowing an attacker full access and control of the system. In the case of mobile phones an attacker may be able to remotely turn on the microphone making it easy to eavesdrop on conversations in the immediate area.

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There are even commercial products available designed to allow silent install and operation. The product or application captures phone conversations, text messages, and call logs unknown to the caller or receiver and can be obtained for as little as $100 USD.