June 01, 2018

Wyden Demands Action from Phone Companies and FCC Following New Proof of Threats to Americans’ Phones

In Letter to Wyden, Department of Homeland Security Confirms At Least 1 Remote SS7 Attack, and Reports of Rogue Spying Device Near White House

Washington, D.C. –Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., demanded action from telephone companies and the Federal Communications Commission today, following release of a letter from the Department of Homeland Security that makes public new evidence that foreign spies and hackers are attacking the poorly secured U.S. phone system.

“I’ve spent the past year fighting to reveal what a terrible job the telephone companies and FCC are doing at protecting Americans from being spied on, tracked, or scammed. This letter is yet more evidence that these threats are absolutely real and they are already attacking Americans,” Wyden said.

“The news of a possible foreign stingray near the White House is of particular concern giving reports that the President isn’t even using a secure phone to protect his calls. The cavalier attitude toward our national security appears to be coming from the top down. It is high time for the FCC and this administration to act immediately to protect American national security.”

The letter describes two separate ways that spies, criminals and hackers may be threatening both national security and the personal security of regular Americans:

  • First, a federal study found evidence of rogue spying devices near the White House and other sensitive locations, during a test last year. The devices, known as IMSI catchers or stingrays, can track phones, but also intercept phone calls, text messages and plant malware on phones.
  • Second, the letter confirms that DHS has received reports that “nefarious actors may have exploited” a weakness in phone networks known as SS7, “to target the communications of American citizens.” The report is the first government acknowledgement of reported attacks in the United States using this vulnerability.

 Wyden has been the Senate’s foremost defender of Americans’ rights and smart policies on technology and security. Over the past year he has fought to reveal threats to Americans’ privacy and security, from spies, criminals and even companies that sell your location information for a quick buck.