[03-21-2017] WTAG – Craig Peterson
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Joined Ken and Matt for another Wednesday of tech updates. We talked about why the new Samsung S8 will have battery issues, including some myths of battery charging.
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Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors.
Airing date: 03/21/2017
Phone Hacks in Washington DC – In Case of Emergency – How to Share Your Critical Information with Authorities
Craig Peterson: Have you ever been in an emergency situation where it really is life or death and you need to be contacted or maybe a family member needs to be contacted if you’re involved in an accident, a medical emergency? Well, Jim Polito this morning was talking about just that. They’re trying to pass a law in Massachusetts that would allow you to register your contact information with the Department of Motor Vehicles, Registry of Motor Vehicles when it comes to Mass., and be able to have the police or the hospital contact your next of kin, or whoever it is you put on to that driver’s license. So Jim and I talked about that this morning. I put together a special blogpost on it. And we also spent some serious time talking about what’s happening right now in Washington, DC. It looks like our senators, our FBI agents, pretty much everybody, is being monitored. Hey, maybe President Trump was right.
Jim Polito: This is the guy who should be right there testifying in DC about what’s going on on all these wiretapping sneakiness, hacking, all of that. Actually it’s best that he’s not there. It’s best that he be here with us telling us what it’s all about. Joining us now, our Tech Talk guru, Craig Peterson. Good morning sir.
Craig: Hey good morning Jim.
Jim: Hey thank you. I know you’re going to put that up and we’ll get to focus on how they can get their emergency information so that it’s available on a locked phone and all these other places. But I want to get to what’s going on here. The suspicious cellphone activity in DC. And you’re saying, and I guess others. Your colleagues are saying this is the smoking gun of monitoring smartphones.
Craig: Yeah. This is really kind of interesting because there was a new program that was put in place right about the time President Trump assumed office. And it’s kind of a pilot program here called ESD Overwatch. And it was put in place by the Department of Homeland Security to keep an eye on our cellphone networks. You know we have lots of infrastructure here in the United States, our power, our water, that is controlled by valves that are controlled by computer and they can be messed with. It can really cause all kinds of problems, right? These valves or switches. But when it comes to the cellphone network, it’s not quite so obvious. What might be happening? What’s going on? I’ve been raising alarms since I started working on the software that today is SS7 a couple of decades ago because it was designed, Jim, with trust in mind. The idea is you’ve got T-Mobile, you’ve got Verizon, and Sprint, and AT&T and you want people to be able to have their cellphone and maybe you’ve got a bad coverage in that area, right?
Craig: So you want your cellphone to go over to another provider, cell networks. So now if I want to call you Jim, I’m going to pick up my cellphone, I’m going to dial a number. I’m talking to a local tower. That tower is going to end up that signal, it ends up going to that routing system. It’s going to say hey, where’s Jim’s phone? Where’s Jim’s phone? And ultimately a tower where you’re at is going to say hey, Jim’s right here. I got Jim’s phone. Great. Here’s the data. Here’s the communication. Set it up. Well that’s kind of really oversimplified.
Craig: That’s how it works. Ok?
Jim: Ok. I’m with you so far.
Craig: We trust everyone, right?
Craig: What happens when, and I talked about this on my show last year, what happens when the Russians decide they want to listen in on phone calls and there’s evidence that last year, that’s exactly what happened. It was a little longer than a year ago. But the Russians routed calls in Washington, DC through Moscow back to Washington, DC.
Craig: So think about that.
Craig: So they had full access to all of this. So this pilot program that is a 90-day pilot, it started on January 18th this year. The Overwatch system, this is the defense of law enforcement technology provided just put it in place the same way. We’re seeing activity on the cell networks in Washington, DC around the Pentagon, around the White House, around Congress, that doesn’t match what we would expect. We’re seeing location data going to places that we’re not quite sure what’s happening here. So basically, what we’re looking at right now is strong evidence that someone’s wiretapping, someone’s been hacking our SS7 switching systems and has been listening in. and it may or may not be our friends at the NSA.
Jim: Yeah. We’re talking with Craig Peterson, our Tech Talk guru. And at the end of the segment we’ll give you a number. You text my name, he’ll get you all of these information plus a whole lot of other stuff. And he won’t annoy you with repeated messages. And standard data and text rates apply.
Ok. So, now I want you to, Craig, now let’s be conspiracy theorists a little bit. But at least we’re working in a realm that you completely understand. There could be a lot of other people. Bad actors doing that. I mean, right away we would think, ok, it’s our own government spying on us, right? That could be a lot of other people.
Craig: It really could. I have… many times I’ve toyed with this. I don’t know if you know one of my other hacks is I have an advanced class FCC amateur radio license.
Craig: And so I have set up my own cell tower in the past.
Craig: And we know, this is for my own use and use of a couple of local friends, we know that these exist. The FBI uses them and even local law enforcement agencies. So they can put up fake cell towers and listen in and have all of your phone calls, all of your texts, everything go through it. So they have all of that, right? We know that all exists. So anybody from me through the Russians could be doing this and saying hey listen, I know where Jim’s phone is. It’s here in Moscow. And have some of that data routed. We don’t know yet who it is. This is going to take a little bit because this is very concerning and we have some lawmakers right now that are writing some letters. Congress is calling for an investigation because these activities that they’re looking at here is very suspicious. And I agree, man. This is really, really kind of scary because there’s major flaws in this. Now this is good news, just like the CIA leak was, because now we know there’s a real problem. It’s been happening in the real world. This isn’t just theoretical. And I can guarantee you that it will be patched up. Although with the SS7 switching in the phone systems, this could take a little while. But it is going to be fixed and that’s good news.
Jim: Alright. Craig, we’re running out of time, but you heard the story where we’re talking about this young man, Joshua Cloutier and how he was in that accident. And that if he did… first of all, the HIPAA law did not allow for his parents to be called while in a trauma unit. But I started bringing up the point of, you know, you can’t get into my phone anymore without my fingerprint or my PIN. So how would somebody find my emergency contact information?
Craig: Well, android is kind of a mess and the different manufacturers, the different vendors have different software that they’ve included. But there are in case of emergency apps out there. If you have an iPhone, this is really simple. And I’ve put instructions up on my website. I’ll text it out to everybody today.
Craig: But it’s simple on your iPhone. It’s tied into the health app. On android, there are some settings that I’ve got explanations of that.
Jim: Oh great.
Craig: And I have a link too to the number one medical app. It’s called iStandard. But it tells you all about it. It gives you a link to grab it.
Jim: Alright that’s great. So, folks can get that if they need it. If they text my name, Jim, J-I-M, to…
Jim: That’s great. Do that number again please?
Jim: Ok. Standard data and text rates apply. Craig Peterson will not annoy you with repeated text messages. And you’ll get that important information about how to put emergency contact information into what is in effect, a locked smartphone. Craig, you’re always welcome here. You’re always a great guest. And you always make it easy for us. we appreciate it. We’ll talk with you next week.
Craig: Hey, thanks Jim. Take care.
Jim: You too.