IMSI-Catcher Disguised as HP Printer

Artist and engineer Julian Oliver has long held an obsession with badly-disguised radio masts, whether they are the kind that pretends to be a palm tree or the kind that pretends to be a lamp post. Now he has progressed from documenting the fakery of mobile network antennae to constructing his own elaborate GSM-based deception. Oliver took the dull beige and grey casing of a Hewlett Packard printer, and put an IMSI-catcher inside; see here. And to convince the world it really works, he shared the software for the IMSI-catcher too!

Oliver treats the piece as a work of art, calling it Stealth Cell Tower. As he recognizes, the device could not be used without breaking various laws. But he obviously has a serious point. If an artist can successfully make a fake GSM network node, which appears just like an innocuous piece of office equipment from the outside, then crooks and spies could do the same. So ask yourself a question: when a new office printer is installed, would you think to check who ordered it?

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is a recognized expert on communications risk and assurance. He was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and others.

Eric was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He was a member of Qatar's National Committee for Internet Safety and the first leader of the TM Forum's Enterprise Risk Management team. Eric currently sits on the committee of the Risk & Assurance Group. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.

Commsrisk is edited by Eric. Look here for more about Eric's history as editor.