This noteworthy article on Black Listed news explains how many governments around the world, Middle Eastern and Western alike, are using Datong and Triggerfish technology to track, intercept or even shut down your mobile phone communication.
Here is a nice article about how a device called Stingray was used in California to spy on a man for over a year until authorities found something they deemed criminal enough to make an arrest without a warrant.
There is not a whole lot you can do about this. Encrypt your data? Unfortunately, networks are designed to have total control over your data.
The GSM specification requires the handset to authenticate to the network, but does not require the network to authenticate to the handset. This well-known security hole can be exploited by an IMSI catcher.
The IMSI catcher masquerades as a base station and logs the IMSI numbers of all the mobile stations in the area, as they attempt to attach to the IMSI-catcher. It allows forcing the mobile phone connected to it to use no call encryption (i.e., it is forced into A5/0 mode), making the call data easy to intercept and convert to audio.
Every mobile phone has the requirement to optimize the reception. If there is more than one base station of the subscribed network operator accessible, it will always choose the one with the strongest signal. An IMSI-catcher masquerades as a base station and causes every mobile phone of the simulated network operator within a defined radius to log in. With the help of a special identity request, it is able to force the transmission of the IMSI.
UMTS is no safer and, as usual, there are companies positioning themselves to profit from your privacy invasion.
UMTS networks are growing fast around the world. Septier passive interception solutions support current implementations of these 3G networks. By utilizing advanced high performance hardware probes the solution is easy to deploy in a short time frame. Our systems excel in price/performance while utilizing small footprint at operator’s sites.
Intercepted information may include Voice calls, SMS, FAX, Packet data etc.
Common targeting criteria include MSISDN, IMSI, IMEI, DTMF and more.
DTMF? Is not sacred? They are out to steal your tones!
Long story short, whatever type of wireless communication you are using, most governments consider it fair game to intercept it without your permission. It seems that the last form of private communication is to mail a letter the old fashioned way. You might want to ship it in a lead lock box and send the key separately.