Android 15 can defend you from malicious ‘stripe’ monitoring units

Adamya Sharma / Android Authority


  • Android 15 will provide you with a warning when you’re linked to an unsecured community or when one tries to register your gadget ID, equivalent to when you’re linked to a “stingray” gadget.
  • A stingray is a malicious digital gadget that imitates a mobile community to trick your telephone into connecting to it.
  • Stingrays gather your gadget’s distinctive identifier and try to intercept your textual content messages and telephone calls.

Once you use your smartphone to ship a textual content message or make a telephone name, you should belief that your provider is just not spying in your communications. However what if the mobile community your telephone is linked to would not really belong to your provider however to a malicious third celebration? Gadgets known as “stripes” reap the benefits of this. A Stingray mimics a mobile community, so it could actually trick your cell gadget into connecting to it, permitting it to gather your gadget’s distinctive ID for monitoring functions or swap your gadget to an insecure connection to intercept textual content messages and calls. . To guard customers from these kinds of assaults, Google is including new safety features in Android 15 which is able to warn you when a mobile community is amassing your gadget’s distinctive ID or you’re utilizing an insecure connection.

Identical to an actual cell tower, Stingrays gather your gadget’s Worldwide Cellular Subscriber Identification (IMSI) and Worldwide Cellular Station Gear Identification (IMEI), two distinctive identifiers that respectively determine your gadget’s SIM and the gadget itself. Utilizing IMSI or IMEI, stingray operators can determine and goal their explicit gadget for evaluation. They might additionally attempt to power your gadget to attach utilizing an outdated or unencrypted protocol, making it tough for them to intercept your communications.

Stingrays are well-liked with regulation enforcement businesses as a result of they permit covert knowledge assortment on legal suspects, however they’ve additionally been utilized by malicious state actors to spy on journalists. Moreover, in addition they put particular person privateness in danger as a result of there are few safeguards in opposition to them. That is why Google has been engaged on updating Android to stop units from sending textual content or voice knowledge over older or unencrypted protocols.

In android 12For instance, Google added help for disabling 2G connectivity on the modem stage. Google continued in Android 14 including help for disabling connections that use mobile null ciphers, a type of unencrypted communication. In line with Google, utilizing null encryptions on industrial mobile networks places customers in danger as a result of they expose the person’s voice and SMS visitors to “trivial over-the-air interception.” The corporate additionally says that there are industrial stripes that may trick units into downgrading their connection to null encryption, thus permitting their visitors to be intercepted.

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Whereas Android 14 launched a function to disable help for mobile null encryptions on the modem stage, the function is just not out there on all units as a result of it requires help from the modem vendor. Moreover, the person should concentrate on the existence of the function, which is presently hidden within the SIM settings on supported units. To higher defend customers, Android 15 can proactively alert the person when a community information their gadget’s IMSI or IMEI, in addition to when the community makes an attempt to vary the encryption algorithm.

Within the final Android 15 Developer Preview 2 launch, I found strings that belong to a notification that may seem when a tool identifier is accessed. This notification tells the person {that a} community “registered your gadget distinctive identifier (IMSI)” X variety of occasions in a given interval.


<string identify="scIdentifierDisclosureIssueSummary">"A community on the %4$s connection recorded your gadget's distinctive identifier (IMSI) %1$d occasions within the interval between %2$tr and %3$tr."</string>
<string identify="scIdentifierDisclosureIssueTitle">System identifier accessed</string>

Android 15 will solely be capable of reveal it when your gadget’s distinctive identifier has been accessed on choose units. Gadgets might want to have a modem that helps the brand new Android 15 Mobile Identifier Disclosure Transparency {Hardware} Abstraction Layer (HAL) APIs. These {hardware} APIs enable the modem to tell the working system when the community requests the IMEI or IMSI of the gadget or when the community makes use of a brand new encryption algorithm for a voice, signaling, or knowledge connection try. The working system can then ship the aforementioned notification to the person, revealing that the community has accessed their gadget’s distinctive ID or is making an attempt to downgrade it to an insecure connection.

The mobile transparency function is presently disabled by default in Android 15, however the working system might ship a notification asking the person to overview the “safety of your mobile community” settings. By tapping this button, the person shall be taken to a brand new web page in Settings > Safety and privateness > Extra safety and privateness. This web page will comprise an choice to disable or allow the safety notification that informs the person that their gadget’s IMSI or IMEI has been accessed. The web page will probably additionally embody an choice to “require encryption,” which is able to disable null encrypted connections on the modem stage on supported units.


<string identify="scCellularNetworkSecuritySummary">Assessment settings</string>
<string identify="scCellularNetworkSecurityTitle">Mobile community safety</string>

I am undecided precisely which units will help this mobile transparency function or when it will likely be launched, however we may see it in Android 15 Beta 1 as quickly as doable.

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