The 4G wireless telecommunications protocol is susceptible to the same types of remote exploitation as 3G, according to a new report from cybersecurity firm Positive Technologies.
Signaling System No. 7 (SS7), the protocol supporting 3G, is vulnerable to hackers intercepting or tracking call data. Although 4G's Diameter protocol was supposed to mitigate some vulnerabilities, the report shows hackers could shift a device to 3G mode to exploit SS7 flaws.
In addition, most mobile operators use 4G for Internet access but 3G for text and voice services, the report says.
To minimize the risks with the Diameter protocol, the researchers advise organizations to continuously monitor and analyze signaling traffic for early detection and prevention of suspicious activity.
The report highlights the challenges of securing telephony protocols from one network generation to another, as security advocates aim to strengthen protocols with forthcoming 5G standards.
U.S. lawmakers have raised concerns about SS7 security, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently announced that "nefarious actors" may be exploiting SS7 to spy on Americans.
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