Stingray technology is used to spy on people without their knowledge or consent. It is commonly used by law agencies to carry out invasive programs. These tools are used in several countries where governments want to control their citizens.
Stingrays are basically devices that are used to spy on people. These devices let a spy the personal conversation of anyone anytime. You won’t even get to know that you’ve been attacked by a stingray and your conversations have been heard by others.
Stingrays are generally used in vehicles and they come with computers that run mapping software. These devices are used in several countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, India, South Africa, and Ireland.
Stingray attacks can get your calls, texts, emails, and a lot of other things. And you don’t have to be targeted personally. A Stingray attack can steal information about an entire neighborhood.
The good thing about Stingrays is that they are expensive devices and can cost several thousands of dollars. This is why they cannot be used by a hacker-next-door. These devices can be owned by governments or large companies only.
However, your data being stolen by the government or a big company isn’t a secure deal. After all, the government employees who manage your data are humans. They might be interested in your life for any reason and with surveillance programs like these, your local policeman might know a lot more about you than what you’re comfortable with.
How Stingray attacks work
Stingray surveillance devices pose as cell phone towers. When your phone looks for signals, it connects to the stingray device that’s located near it. And when your phone connects to it, the device reads all its data.
You might find some apps in the app store that claim that they can avoid stingray attacks. The problem is, they don’t really work. The devices can easily fool the apps and make you think you’re secure while you are not.
In an experiment, researchers tested apps such as GSM Spy Finder, SnoopSnitch, and Cell Spy Catcher, and found that it was pretty easy to fool these apps into believing that they are connecting to a genuine cellphone tower.
Stingray devices generally work with 2G connections and will drop the connection if you’re on 3G or 4G. This should be great since hardly anyone uses 2G connections these days. However, the device uses a vulnerability in 3G/4G connections and downgrades the connection to 2G.
And if a modern Stingray works with 3G and 4G as well, it will intercept all data and read it.
Stingrays are the most popular devices for cellphone interception. But there are other devices as well, such as Gossamer, Amberjack, and Triggerfish.
How to Avoid Stingray attacks
You’ll find some apps in the app store that claim that they can beat Stingray attacks. But as discussed earlier, these apps can be fooled.
The next thing to do is use a VPN. If a Stingray is capable of working on 3G and 4G signals, it will work like a man in the middle.
It can read all the data that you’re transmitting from your device. When you use a VPN, your data becomes encrypted. Symbolically, it passes through an encrypted tunnel and cannot be read by hackers and spies.
So even if you connect to a Stingray instead of a genuine cellphone tower, the government won’t be able to read your data as it will be encrypted.
A VPN also redirects your data through one of its servers and thus changes your IP as well. Whenever you connect to the internet, nobody can see your real IP or location and thus you can be anonymous.
But what if the Stingray downgrades your connection to 2G and intercepts your calls?
You can use a cryptophone for such cases. If you want to protect your data and no fall for a Stingray attack, a cryptophone can be a good option. These phones are not as popular as iPhone or Samsung phones but they’re very secure.
This phone is designed to secure your connection against electronic surveillance and eavesdropping. These phones encrypt the signals so if there’s a third party trying to listen to them, they will get garbled data that’s useless to them.
For the encryption to work, both parties should have a cryptophone. And since they aren’t very common, this can be a problem. In order to have more secure communications, cryptophones need to be popular.
In regular phones, the GSM connection is encrypted. When a Stingray acts on it, it disables the GSM encryption. However, in the cryptophone, there is also a cryptographic chip. While the Stingray can deactivate the GSM encryption, it cannot deactivate the phone encryption.
So even though your connection will be intercepted by the government, it cannot be read by them. This is as good as not being intercepted at all.
✅ No phone at all
If you and your friends cannot buy a cryptophone each, here’s what you can do – leave your phone at home. If you’re going to take part in a protest and there are chances for the police to bring out their Stingrays, it’s best to leave your phones at home.
You can decide a place to meet and a particular time. And when your protest is over, you can go back home and get back to your devices.
Since Stingray surveillance attacks are generally used when there’s a chance of a protest, you can avoid all phone calls because if you discuss your plans on phone, they will be heard by the police. If you want to keep things secret and cannot use cryptophones, the best thing to do would be not to use the phone at all.
✅ Burner phone
And if you just have to take a phone to the protest, take a burner phone. A burner phone is a temporary and inexpensive phone that can be discarded after use. So even if the police want to search through your phone, they won’t find anything. Of course, as mentioned earlier, don’t use that phone to discuss your plans when you’re in the protest because you can be spied using a Stingray.