This is focusing on UK mainly, where police radios are similar to mobile phones. Pretend it's possible to buy Stingray, the IMSI scanner.

Pretend Jimmy is a criminal, waiting for a police raid at any moment, so he needs as much time as possible to shutdown his equipment during a raid. Would having a Stingray on 24/7 monitoring to recognise legitimate IMEIs (such as neighbours), but displays a warning if 10+ new IMEI numbers all randomly popup? (Perhaps outside 10 police are just about to perform a raid?)

I know it's not possible to use this device to listen to police chatter, but that is nothing to do with the question.

Is my idea possible?

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    Please play nice, folks - this example is for the criminal Jimmy, but there is a valid security question somewhere in there. Even if the answer is "yes, it is possible"
    – Rory Alsop
    Jan 18, 2016 at 23:05
  • The question seems to boil down to "is it possible to use Stingray in this way" - without being able to own or test this, I'm not sure how we would be able to answer.
    – schroeder
    Jan 19, 2016 at 0:27

1 Answer 1


I believe that you are asking if a side-channel can be used to extract information from encrypted communications without breaking the encryption. Specifically, can detecting the number of ongoing communication channels provide you with information?

The answer is absolutely.

Note that I don't know how UK police radios work or whether what you propose is actually feasible. Nor do I know how easy it is to use the Stingray device as you suggest. I'm just assuming that you are correct.

  • Thanks, but I was looking for some proof that what I said is at least theoretically possible. So it is possible to monitor IMEI numbers on police radios, just like on a cellphone? Me and my friend were laughing at the thought of the police having their own oppression tool used against them :D. Jan 21, 2016 at 21:33
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    Sorry @user5510281, but I don't have more information. I answered when I only had half an answer because I was trying to create positive momentum with the question. People really responded poorly to it. Not sure why as I think it is a fine question, even if I don't really know the answer. Hope you'll not get turned off from the site. Jan 21, 2016 at 21:41
  • I will try not to, thank you. Funny so many people complain about Stingray, yet are unwilling to discuss even basic theory of how to get back at the governments o.O. Jan 21, 2016 at 21:47

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