This 60 Minutes’ story shows how hackers working from Berlin (with legal access to SS7 for the demonstration), were able to intercept a mobile phone conversation between 60 Minutes reporter Ross Coulthart while he was in Germany to Independent Australian Senator Nick Xenophon in Australia’s Parliament House. Coulthart then made another phone call from London to the Senator in Australia which the Berlin hackers were also able to intercept even though they were in Germany 1000 kilometres distant. The Berlin hackers from SR Labs, who first warned of the vulnerability in SS7 in 2008, were also able to intercept the Senator’s SMS messages from Australia to Coulthart in London. The hackers were also then able to geo-track the Senator as he travelled to Japan on official business, mapping his movements around Tokyo and Narita down to the nearest cell tower (within a few hundred metres), and later precisely tracking around the streets of his South Australian home suburb when he returned to Australia.
The 60 Minutes investigation also revealed IMSI catchers – rogue cell-towers – in use in Australia. Over the past few months Ross Coulthart detected suspected IMSI catchers in operation around central Sydney, including outside the Australian Stock Exchange building in Bridge Street. He also recorded multiple detections in an undisclosed eastern suburbs Sydney location, filming the alerts in real time as they were detected. Clearly there is a possibility the IMSI’s detected were part of a legitimate law enforcement operation but experience in the United States suggests at least some of those rogue cell towers are being used illegally by criminals and corporate spies for fraud and espionage.
From 'Phone Spies', 16 August 2015 by Ross Coulthart, 60 Minutes Australia. The video link previously published here on our website was removed 29/11/16. It may be possible to view the entire 'Phone Spies' episode on this link as long as you have access to view content restricted to viewing in Australia: https://www.9now.com.au/60-minutes/2015/clip-cijcee19z009ndwor5bc8d1n7
Around 7/01/17, 60 Minutes Australia's programme was reposted on YouTube by Channel 9 Australia. We've reposted a link to the programme on our page here, 15/01/17.
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