Hackers stalk US Representative Ted Lieu's smartphone with his permission

Hackers stalk US Representative Ted Lieu's smartphone with his permission

A 60 Minutes piece broadcast on Sunday night demonstrated how critical flaws in global cellphone networks can be easily exploited by hackers for the purpose of stealthily tracking a smartphone's location and recording calls made to and from the device.

For carrying out the demonstration, Germany-based Security Research Labs' security expert Karsten Nohl and hackers working with
60 Minutes stalked the iPhone of US Representative Ted Lieu with his permission.

The demonstration showed how hackers -- merely by using the public ten-digit phone number associated with Lieu's iPhone -- managed to obtain Lieu's precise location in real-time, and also record some of his calls, by exploiting evident vulnerabilities in a section of mobile networks called Signaling System Number 7 (or SS7). The SS7 mobile networks basically intend to track and bill customers when they roam among different carriers' systems.

Against the backdrop of the demonstration, Lieu wrote a letter to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee - of which Lieu is a member - on Monday, calling for a congressional investigation of the SS7 flaws.

Asserting that "the applications for this vulnerability are seemingly limitless," Lieu said in the letter: "The vulnerability has serious ramifications not only for individual privacy, but also for American innovation, competitiveness and national security."