As already known, IMSI-catcher is is a telephone eavesdropping device used for intercepting mobile phone traffic and tracking location data of mobile phone user.

When the user registers to this fake base station, it (usually) answers with a fake location.

Can it be located nevertheless? i.E. does any device exist to do that, or is it possible to identify the real location by using some specialized software?

  • This works by forcing a client phone to downgrade their encryption to (I think) A1. It may be possible to find the exact location with timing analysis, but it could be anywhere between the cell phone tower and the target device. Nov 18, 2017 at 18:33

2 Answers 2


The SeaGlass researchers aim to find the location of IMSI-catchers via anomaly detection at a city scale: https://seaglass.cs.washington.edu/ .

To identify potential IMSI-catchers, they rely on four anomalies:

  1. Reporting to be at a fake location (as you mentioned)
  2. Broadcasting at unusual channels
  3. Supporting different features from regular towers
  4. Constantly moving or turning on and off

To answer your question: you may be able to detect it easily, but finding the location may require triangulation.


In addition to @crypto's answer,

if you can determine a specific transmission is from a suspected catcher, a fox hunt rig would be able to provide direction, and two of those measurements can provide a pretty small search area.

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