How A $650 Jammer Could Kill a 4G Network
4G networks are vulnerable to a relatively easy attack, a new study found.
CREDIT: Rat007 | Shutterstock.com
The latest Internet-connection tech for smartphones, tablets and other devices is vulnerable to a simple hack, a new study has found. A person could take down the LTE, or 4G, network for thousands of people using equipment that costs a few thousand dollars in total and could fit in a briefcase, Jeff Reed, a wireless researcher at Virginia Tech who led the research, told MIT's Technology Review. The jammer itself could be found for as little as $650, Technology Review reported.
LTE is becoming more and more common, so an LTE jammer could affect a wide swath of people. No one has tried such jamming yet, Reed told Technology Review, but if it did happen, it would be difficult to repulse. He and his graduate assistant, Marc Lichtman, didn't have any suggestions for avoiding the jamming technique they identified. "You have to put the problems out on the table first. Although we've identified the problem, we don't necessarily have solutions," Reed said.
LTE is especially open to attack because the network sends essential instructions over only a few electromagnetic frequencies, Technology Review reported. Attackers would just have to send a signal at those crucial frequencies. "Any communications engineer would be able to figure this stuff out," Lichtman told Technology Review. 2G and 3G networks aren't similarly vulnerable, but they're becoming more uncommon, as LTE can be 10 times faster than 3G.
An LTE takedown could affect much more than people's personal smartphones or tablets. Some researchers have also proposed using LTE for a new emergency response network, called FirstNet, Technology Review reported. In a report to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Reed said terrorists could interfere with FirstNet during an attack.
LTE is also increasingly showing up in new ideas for medical devices, cameras and cars.
Source: Technology Review