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Police arrest hackers built their own phone tower

by on12 June 2024


British coppers have fingered the collars  of two people implicated in an SMS-based phishing scheme utilising a distinctive apparatus, which the police characterised as a “homemade mobile antenna,” “an illegitimate telephone mast,” and a “text message blaster.”

Inspector Knacker of the Yard said that the unusual device, engineered to dispatch texts masquerading as banks and other legitimate entities, posed a significant threat to the public. It purportedly circumvented network operators’ anti-SMS-based phishing, or smishing, defences, highlighting the need for increased vigilance in the face of evolving cyber threats.

The City of London Police said numerous messages were disseminated utilising this configuration, with those presumed to be orchestrating the operation misrepresenting themselves as banks “and other official organisations” in their messages.

Huayong Xu, 32, Alton Road in Croydon, was detained on May 23. He has been indicted for possession of articles for use in fraud and is scheduled to appear at Inner London Crown Court on June 26. Another individual, whose identity was not disclosed and whose charges were not revealed by the police, was apprehended on May 9 in Manchester and released on bail.

Lacking further details, it’s challenging to speculate about the nature of these “text message blaster” devices.

Based on the police’s statements, it would appear that the hackers used an IMSI catcher, also known as a Stingray, which mimics a mobile phone tower, to interact with personal devices. However, such devices are typically used for surveillance purposes, and the charges were fraud-related.

 A more plausible scenario is that the alleged UK contraption could be some form of SIM bank or an assemblage of phones programmed to dispatch a vast quantity of SMSes simultaneously.

Last modified on 12 June 2024
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