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What kind of hardware would I need to monitor data sent between a mobile handset and a base-station?

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A good read on how to intercepting GSM traffic blackhat.com/presentations/bh-dc-08/Steve-DHulton/Presentation/… –  Ali Ahmad Mar 8 '13 at 6:31
    
@AliAhmad nice slides, but it seems to suggest that the gear is all in at least the tens of thousands of dollars range. –  trideceth12 Mar 8 '13 at 10:48

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There are at least two options, dedicated commercial hardware about which I know little (Nexus Telecom is one vendor) other than it's improbably expensive; and the CCC method: https://svn.berlin.ccc.de/projects/airprobe/wiki/hardware (site uses a CAcert.org signed cert).

It seems you can get off to a good start with GNU Radio and a USRP board (sub $1000).

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