Fake Cell Tower Detected In AVL

Updated: Friday, September 5 2014, 12:34 AM EDT
Fake Cell Tower Detected In AVL story image
A company's new findings raise questions about cell security.

ESD of America, which makes encrypted phones, says its customers helped them detect 17 fake towers across the US in July, including one in Asheville.

So when phones in the area try to connect to a tower they first get a bogus one, known as an interceptor.

Buzz Bruner of ESD says eventually that interceptor passes the call to the intended tower.

"But in the process of passing that call off, what they can do is capture your information," Bruner says. "With sophisticated software they can listen to it in real time."

Experts say the users of cell interceptors include everyone from law enforcement to people involved in corporate and industrial espionage.

"Be very careful what you discuss on a cellular network," Bruner warns. "It's easily intercepted and a user has no idea on a regular cellphone that it is  being intercepted."

Raleigh-based telecommunications expert Ben Levitan says most of us have no need to be concerned.

He thinks phony towers needs to be addressed soon by cell carriers.

"Because it speaks to the integrity of the network and the privacy of the network," Levitan tells us.

We reached out to a couple of wireless providers for comment.

In a statement, US Cellular's director of sales for WNC says

“We are not aware of this issue," says Jack Brundige, the WNC director of sales for US Cellular. "Our towers in North Carolina are run with Code Division Multiple Access technology that are encrypted, prohibiting intercepting transmissions.”   Fake Cell Tower Detected In AVL
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