The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has released evidence that foreign spies and hackers have been attacking poorly secured phone systems in the U.S.
Senator Ron Wyden has now demanded action from telephone companies and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In a press release issued on Friday, Senator Wyden explained that he spent the past year fighting to reveal the shoddy job the telephone companies and FCC are doing at protecting Americans from being spied on, tracked, or scammed.
“This letter by the DHS is yet more evidence that these threats are absolutely real and they are already attacking Americans,” Wyden said on his website.
The senator criticized President Donald Trump for not using a secure phone.
“The news of a possible foreign stingray near the White House is of particular concern as the President isn’t even using a secure phone to protect his calls. The cavalier attitude toward our national security appears to be coming from the top down,” he said.
Wyden added that the FCC and the Trump administration must act immediately to protect American national security.
As per the findings of the DHS, Security, hackers, and spies are not only posing a threat to national security, but they are also threatening the personal security of American citizens.
According to a report by Fox 13, a federal study found evidence of rogue spying devices near the White House and other sensitive locations, during a test last year. The devices, known as IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) catchers or stingrays, can track phones, but also intercept phone calls, text messages and plant malware on phones.
The DHS has also received reports that “nefarious actors may have exploited” a weakness in phone networks known as SS7, “to target the communications of American citizens.” The report is the first government acknowledgment of reported attacks in the United States using this vulnerability.
Christopher Krebs, DHS’s acting National Protection and Programs Directorate head, said that they were not able to identify which groups were behind the surveillance activity.
Krebs, in his letter, cited a 2017 study in which the DHS observed an “anomalous activity that appeared consistent with IMSI catcher technology within the [National Capital Region], including locations in proximity to potentially sensitive facilities like the White House.” However, the department was not able to validated nor attribute such activity to specific entities, devices, or purposes.
“It is my understanding that relevant law enforcement and counterintelligence agencies conducted further investigation and determined some detected signals were emanating from legitimate cell towers,” Krebs stated in his letter to Wyden.