Rogue cell towers are false base stations that hijack nearby mobile device connections. They trick the mobile device into thinking it is connected to an authorized cell tower, leaving it vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks and increasing threats to privacy. Rogue cell towers are also known as Stingrays or IMSI Catchers. Although Stingrays are also used by law enforcement, criminals use rogue towers to listen to calls, read texts, and push malware to devices.
The most prevalent rogue cell towers are IMSI Catchers, which appear to be genuine cell towers but use IMSI authentication to trick the mobile device into thinking it’s connected to an actual tower. These fake bases can be set up quickly and inexpensively. They’re often constructed using a Raspberry Pi system and free, open-source GSM access point software.