Hacked Phones Can "Steal" Other Peoples' Calls

Not getting those calls from some of your friends and neighbors lately? IT may not be the fault of you wireless carrier. Researchers in Germany have modified the firmware in simple cell phones that allow them to intercept calls destined for other phones.

The idea behind the hack is rather simple. When a call comes through the carrier's network and is sent to a specific location area, the cell tower contacts nearby devices to see who is the intended recipient of the call. Under normal circumstance, only one phone will respond that it is the one that should be receiving the call or SMS.

What the researchers have done is modify the firmware in the phone so that it responds faster to the tower with a "Hey, that's one for me!", than the other phones and intercepts the message or SMS, as the networks work on a basic first one found principle.

While the researchers only tested the hack out with their own phones, they estimated that it would only take about 11 modified phones to shut down service to Germany's third largest cellular operator, E-Plus, in a location area.

While this only works on 2G GSM networks, there is still a large portion of the world, apporximately four billion people, that are still using GSM networks for calls and they are also used for machine-to-machine operations.

While this sort of hack could be very problematic if it became widespread, it's still mostly likely that your crazy Old Uncle Dean just didn't call you.