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An answer to a recent question has given me an idea for a school project (security CS program).

Also, an active attacker (with a fake base station) can potentially force a mobile phone to use another variant [of encryption]...

This sounds very cool, and I want to implement this on an at-home basis.

This article talks about a 2010 presentation of just such an experiment. I've done some limited research, but I have two main questions:

What equipment would I need to buy and how much would it cost (this project is self-funded)? The article said $1,500, including the laptop (which I already have), but did not give any specific information on the antenna.

What sort of APIs/libraries/etc., if any, exist for the communications protocols? If none, I can probably try to implement the protocol myself, but this could take a lot of time.

Update:

Conclusion so far: While cell phones can operate in a HAM radio band in the United States, I'm concerned about potential legal implications of spoofing a cell phone tower. Specifically, I think I would need to identify myself as another carrier in order to perform a MITM attack, which may be a crime.

Some helpful links:

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keep cell phone at home and relay calls threw it... do not use call forwarding because the carrier will see it as a incoming call but use perhaps Bluetooth to control that phone from a remote location all the carrier will see is incoming outgoing calls from ur home although you are in Hawaii at the beach sippin on coronas eating polky ;) please if you figure it out post up the results im not a electronic wizard or even a techy I got the idea from the blue tooth in my car witch is voice activated... to make my idea stupid easy to understand imagine this.... I leave my cell in my car at home wit –  user31155 Sep 23 '13 at 20:04

1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Defcon has had a few presentations on this subject. An active attacker can turn off encryption altogether, never mind just changing it.

Also there is an open source program available just for this. I will edit this with the link when I find it.

Software: http://openbts.sourceforge.net/
Antennas https://www.ettus.com/product/category/Antennas
RF Daughterboards https://www.ettus.com/product/category/Daughterboards
Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjYAAmHvt-g

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Thanks, this looks really interesting; I will keep researching. I will accept an answer when I'm all the way there (or decide to quit). –  dafrazzman Feb 10 '12 at 0:13

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