Hacker Wanqiao Zhang of Chinese hacking house Qihoo 360 has demonstrated how calls and text messages on 4G LTE networks can be intercepted and shut off.
As reported by The Register, the intercepts were demonstrated at the Ruxcon hacking confab in Melbourne.
The report stated that the hack exploits the “fall-back mechanisms designed to ensure continuity of phone services in the event of overloads”.
The network initially tested was Frequency Division Duplexing LTE, which the report stated is more popular than Time Division Duplexing LTE in Britain, the US, and Australia.
However, further tests showed that all LTE networks and devices are affected by this exploit.
The report stated that the attack works through a series of messages sent between malicious base stations which target specific phones.
The attacker becomes a “man-in-the-middle”, where they can listen to calls and read SMS messages, or force phones onto 2G networks.
“Zhang says the attacks are possible because LTE networks allow users to be handed over to underused base stations in the event of natural disasters to ensure connectivity,” said The Register.