Phone Tapping and IMSI-Catchers

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Following a Parliamentary Question [1] to the Prime Minister of Mauritius on Tuesday 19 April 2016 by an Opposition member, an widespread interest was created about telephone tapping in the country especially after what the Opposition member described as a van lurking around the house of opposition members in order to listen to conversations. Days later,  a weekly newspaper published a 3-page article [2] on the whole phone tapping in Mauritius and mentioned about an IMSI-Catcher which is basically a device that spoofs your mobile telephony provider’s Base Transceiver Station (In an nutshell, Base that connects your mobile phone to the telephony network) and acts as a middle-man between your device and the providers network thus capturing all of your communications. Out of my usual curiosity, I wanted to know more about it and clarify some doubts I had. I knew about the IMSI-Catcher technique and remembered an article by a hacker by the name of Simone Margaritelli who once assembled a relatively cheap bench rogue-BTS using a Raspberry Pi [3] that, if tweaked, could be used for that same purpose, intercept communications. I contacted him and he very kindly accepted to reply to my questions.

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Mauritius adds ‘5’ at the start of all its mobile numbers

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5As from the 1st of September 2013, all mauritian mobile phone numbers moved from 7 digits to 8 digits with a ‘5’ at the start of the number. This targets all subscribers of Orange Mauritius, Emtel, MTML/Chilli and all devices that uses the GSM protocol to communicate. Explained as a means to increase the capacity of the number allocation system as “we will soon be lacking numbers”, this decision has had mixed reactions from the population as a whole. For some, nothing great has changed whereas for others, that has had a huge impact on their way of life. In this post i will try to enumerate the problems faced together with solutions and suggestions.

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