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This "Printer" Is Actually a Surveillance Device

Office supplies meet Stingray.

The Stealth Cell Tower might look like a printer on the surface. But the device, developed by Berlin-based critical engineer Julian Oliver, can track phones and other signals, similar to police surveillance tools.

The Stealth Cell Tower is made from an HP Laserjet 1320, since the printer was designed with free space inside, a tiny computer called the Raspberry Pi 3 equipped with a few antennas, a BladeRF SDR board enabling radio frequency communication, and cabling.

"Stealth Cell Tower is a continuation of my research into the uncanny design practice of disguising cell towers as other things (like trees, bricks, church spires)," Oliver said. "Stealth Cell Tower is also a continuation of my studies into the surveillance of mobile phones by police, government intelligence agencies, and the military using what have come to be known as IMSI Catchers."

For instance, Oliver pointed out, spies and cops most famously use the Stingray, a surveillance tool that acts as a cellphone tower. He said his own device is an antagonistic GSM (global system for mobile communication) base station that could mimic that technology.

The Stealth Cell Tower could be used to spy on your boss or your boyfriend, or in other scenarios in which you'd be phishing for information that could be used to dig up dirt.

While the Stealth Cell Tower may seem like a regular cell service provider, Oliver wrote the code so that it secretly picks up on phone signals, without needing to know the phone numbers, and sends them SMSs that appear as if they're from someone who knows the phone's owner.

From this message exchange, a transcript gets printed that reveals the sent message, the "victim's" IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) number, and other information that could be used to identify them.

Occasionally, the printer also calls victims' phones at random and plays Stevie Wonder's "I Just Called To Say I Love You" when they answer. So just remember, things aren't always what they seem.

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