Is Your Boss is Listening to Your Personal Cellular Calls at Work?
The use of IMSI locators by large corporations has exploded.
Fewer and fewer employees are using their office phones for business communication and as a result companies in the practice of recording and monitoring employee communications have been in the dark — until recently. Corporations across the nation have installed International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) locators — known as Stingrays or cell site simulators— to route their employee’s cell phones through the company’s own cellular network. This allows corporations to monitor all voice and text communication while their employees are at work AND ensures that their employees get 5 bars whenever they use their personal cellular devices.
If you work for a Fortune 1000 company in the United States your cell phone is likely connected to your company’s Stingray system when you’re in the office. This means that a recording of every call and text you make or receive while at work is being stored and potentially monitored by your employer. While this would normally be illegal, but employers can monitor communication taking place on their equipment — by definition their Stingray system is company equipment allowing them carte blanche. The only advantage for the employee is a strong cellular connection indoors.
Corporations are using AI more and more to help their teams better communicate with prospective and existing clients — the proliferation of ubiquitous cellular devices make their implementation all but impossible. For example, companies like Chorus provide the sort of tools we could have only dreamed of in the past to help train our sales teams — but the truth is that almost all of our salespeople are using their personal cellular devices to close deals. AI systems are also very good at revealing which employees are looking for a new job — but they need data and Stingray systems give them the necessary data to determine with 95% accuracy who is planning to leave. At the end of the day, Stingray systems allow corporations to reconnect their AI tools to their team and as a result leverage their power — for good and evil.
While employees should be concerned about the privacy implications that corporate Stingrays present, corporate customers and vendors have the most to worry about. Those same Stingrays that capture employee communications will also, inadvertently, intercept cellular traffic from all devices physically in a company’s campus. Always assume your voice, text, and email communication is being collected when you’re in an office building. Remember, your email is often delivered via a cellular network to your cell phone even when it is in your pocket. As a precaution you should always put your phone in airplane mode when visiting another company’s place of business. There is a good chance that they might intercept your signals — inadvertently or purposefully.
Here is an example bill of sale for a Stingray system:
About The Author
Alexander Muse is a serial entrepreneur, author of the StartupMuse and Sous Vide Science, contributor to Forbes and managing partner of Sumo. Check out his podcast on iTunes. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.