Using 4G VoLTE? Hackers can initiate shadow calls, access voice mail and detect your location

The network protocol has become quite popular all over the world in recent years.

Hackers can remotely operate a user's phone through the vulnerable VoLTE network iStock

French cyber security firm P1 Security has come out with a list of issues that hackers can exploit with regard to 4G VoLTE networks. The protocol is quite popular all over the world and has caught on rapidly in Asia and most European countries in recent years.

VoLTE, which means Voice Over Long-Term Evolution, is a high-speed wireless communication for mobile phones and data terminals based on older GSM technology. Initially rolled out in 2012 in South Korea and Singapore, it has become quite popular mainly because the call quality is superior to 3G or 2G connections and far more data can be transferred over 4G than 2G or 3G.

P1 experts say the networks have not one but several vulnerabilities that could lead hackers to not only gain access to a user's data but also remotely control their phone operations. All they need is an Android phone connected to a mobile network.

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While some of these exploits are already "active", some still remain "passive" but can be activated in future. Below is a list of concerns VoLTE users should have from these vulnerabilities:

  • Hackers can access another person's voice mail
  • Number from the contact list can be spoofed to call customers and obtain sensitive information such as passwords, card PINs, and other information
  • The victim's IMEI number can be leaked
  • Details of the victims UTRAN Cell ID can be leaked. This is a unique identifier of a physical antenna the victim uses to receive a call
  • Shadow calls an be placed remotely
  • User's location can be detected

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