US Marshals Caught Spying with Low Flying Aircraft and Fake Base Station DIRTBoxes.

With the dust still settling on the Fake Mobile Phone Towers spying controversy the US Government has been caught with its hand in its own cookie jar once again. Reports are surfacing at the moment that suggests the US Marshals have been flying Cessna’s equipped with DIRTbox technology to collect the identity of every mobile phone within range. Using 5 airports across the US as bases it is believed the Marshals have most of the population within range.

Manufactured by Digital Receiver Technology (DIRT), now a subsidiary of Boeing, the DIRTbox’s and their use by the US Marshals appears to be completely legal. Amazingly there seems to have been no laws broken in this snooping program. The US Marshal service is overseen by the US Department of Justice and has the sign off of the required judges.

paranoid-android-dirtboxsurveillanceplane_685783The Wall Street Journal broke the story last week and has been working with the American Civil Liberties Union to get to the bottom of this latest long look inwards. Their investigation has uncovered that since 2007 US Marshals have been using DIRTboxes, technology similar to the Fake Towers, that are able to scan and identify all mobile phones within range of the aircraft. Once they have identified persons of interest they are then able to obtain a court order to hack the phone using the DIRTbox and download the phones contents or turn it into a live listening device, turning the phones camera on is also a possibility.

Even a fully encrypted phone will still respond to the fake signal being sent out, identifying themselves and their location in the process, accurate to a range of three meters. This is the normal process that is triggered by shifting to a new mobile tower or base station. However the more advanced hacking functions of the DIRTbox or Stingray devices are far beyond normal operation between tower and phone.

Reference: Wall Street Journal (Paywall)
Reference: The Huffington Post
Reference: The Register