CBS 60 Minutes: Hacking Your Phone

CBS 60 Minutes: Hacking Your Phone

The following script is from “Hacking Your Phone” which aired on April 17, 2016. Sharyn Alfonsi is the correspondent. Howard L. Rosenberg and Julie Holstein, producers.

A lot of modern life is interconnected through the Internet of things — a global empire of billions of devices and machines. Automobile navigation systems. Smart TVs. Thermostats. Telephone networks. Home security systems. Online banking. Almost everything you can imagine is linked to the world wide web. And the emperor of it all is the smartphone. You’ve probably been warned to be careful about what you say and do on your phone, but after you see what we found, you won’t need to be warned again.

We heard we could find some of the world’s best hackers in Germany. So we headed for Berlin. Just off a trendy street and through this alley we rang the bell at the door of a former factory. That’s where we met Karsten Nohl, a German hacker, with a doctorate in computer engineering from the University of Virginia.

We were invited for a rare look at the inner workings of security research labs. During the day, the lab advises Fortune 500 companies on computer security. But at night, this international team of hackers looks for flaws in the devices we use everyday: smartphones, USB sticks and SIM cards. They are trying to find vulnerabilities before the bad guys do, so they can warn the public about risks. At computer terminals and work benches equipped with micro lasers, they physically and digitally break into systems and devices.

Now, Nohl’s team is probing the security of mobile phone networks.

Sharyn Alfonsi: Is one phone more secure than another? Is an iPhone more secure than an Android?

Karsten Nohl: All phones are the same.

Sharyn Alfonsi: If you just have somebody’s phone number, what could you do?

Karsten Nohl: Track their whereabouts, know where they go for work, which other people they meet when– You can spy on whom they call and what they say over the phone. And you can read their texts.
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