[Ed. – Well, this is…both big and small. It’s big, in that DHS is acknowledging it — plus, it’s obviously a security concern. It’s not quite so big, in that it’s kind of a big duh. We know devices like the Stingray exist. They’ve been out there for some years now; agencies of the federal government have been using them (including the U.S. Marshals and the IRS, apparently). If they’re commercially available, of course other entities are trying to use them. And where would be a higher-payoff place to suck in cell phone trons than in D.C.? I frankly wouldn’t make any assumptions about who’s involved. Sure, it could be the Russians. Could be someone working for Democrats too. And Republicans.]
For the first time, the U.S. government has publicly acknowledged the existence in Washington of what appear to be rogue devices that foreign spies and criminals could be using to track individual cellphones and intercept calls and messages.
The use of what are known as cellphone-site simulators by foreign powers has long been a concern, but American intelligence and law enforcement agencies — which use such eavesdropping equipment themselves — have been silent on the issue until now.
In a March 26 letter to Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, the Department of Homeland Security acknowledged that last year it identified suspected unauthorized cell-site simulators in the nation’s capital. The agency said it had not determined the type of devices in use or who might have been operating them. Nor did it say how many it detected or where.
The agency’s response, obtained by The Associated Press from Wyden’s office, suggests little has been done about such equipment, known popularly as Stingrays after a brand common among U.S. police departments.