The government, telecommunications industry and security authorities have allegedly been doing nothing to plug ‘the biggest privacy breach in Australian history’.
On Sunday, a 60 Minutes investigation exposed a major vulnerability in one of the world’s most used signalling systems by filming a hacker as he intercepted a live call.
More than 800 telecommunications companies around the world use the ‘SS7’ signalling system, including many major Australian phone companies.
The breach allegedly allows anyone — terrorists, spies and service providers — to listen to conversations and track the location of the phone’s users.
During the program, a German hacker who works for a security firm demonstrated how the breach occurs.
The hacker was shown listening in to a mobile phone conversation between Australian Senator Nick Xenaphon and reporter Ross Coulthart in Berlin.
Even PM Tony Abbott could be exposed to the huge security hole in our mobile phone network. WATCH the Extra Minutes: https://t.co/sAYsiF4E1n
— 60 Minutes Australia (@60Mins) August 16, 2015
He also showed the program how at least 10 devices’ calls were at the time, bering hacked into while they were in Sydney.
One of them was just outside the Australian Stock Exchange.
“What it means is that your smartphone is an open book,” 60 Minutes reporter Mr Coulthart told News Corp.
“Criminals now have access to these huge security holes to steal your data and listen in to your calls.
“We know telephone companies know about it, we know security agencies know about it, but nothing is being done.
“The allegation in our story is the reason this security vulnerability has not been fixed is because it suits the spooks,” Mr Coulthart said.
“Until very recently corporate criminals didn’t know about it, but now it’s very clearly being misused by corporate and organised crime.”