~e; cell-phone as bug

From bc <human@electronetwork.org>
Date Wed, 31 Jul 2002 19:13:10 -0500
In-reply-to <466A8D85-A4D6-11D6-92A8-0003931A63CC@vt.edu>
References <466A8D85-A4D6-11D6-92A8-0003931A63CC@vt.edu>

Halting cell-phone mischief
Albert Robinson Reuters
Monday, June 17, 2002


TEL AVIVImagine your company is holding secret talks to buy another 
firm when your main competitor suddenly snaps it up from under your 
nose, apparently aware of all the details of the negotiations.
.While you launch a widespread investigation, the culprit could be 
nothing more sinister than a cell phone "accidentally" left in the 
corner of the room, placed in a plant pot or taped under the 
boardroom table.
.With a slight modification, cell phones become high-quality bugging 
devices. An owner can call the phone from anywhere in the world 
without its emitting a ringing tone, while its screen remains blank, 
apparently turned off.
."The beauty of the cell phone as a bug is that it's an innocent 
looking and ubiquitous object," says Ben Te'eni, co-founder of 
Netline Communications Technologies, which has developed a device for 
detecting cell-phone communications, especially from cell phones in 
apparently dormant mode.
."People trust cell phones," he explains, "but modified and left in 
idle mode the cell phone can be used as a transmitter for up to a 
week. If it's connected to a power supply it can provide endless 
intelligence. Professional bugsweepers often ignore the cell-phone 
frequency since the phones are so common and not suspicious."
.What enables Netline to detect them, however, is that they 
periodically transmit a signal to their base station. Netline's small 
Cellular Activity Analyzer is a device that can be left in a 
boardroom, for instance, where it can detect and record cell-phone 
activity and give visual and audio warnings.
."I can leave the CAA in the office before important meetings and it 
will tell me if there's a cell phone in the room," Te'eni says. "I 
can also leave it in the room overnight or for a number of days to 
see if a bug has been left behind."
.Like the head of many other Israeli telecommunications companies, 
Te'eni, 33, and his co-founder, Gil Israeli, 34, formerly worked in 
military intelligence. Te'eni is unwilling to elaborate on his army 
service or Netline's client list.
.Having worked for state-owned Israel Aircraft Industries after 
leaving the army, the pair decided to branch out on their own and set 
up Netline in 1998.
.Their first product was a jamming device that prevents cell-phone 
calls in selected areas. Te'eni says the product has been sold to 
defense agencies of "blue-chip governments" around the world.
."The jammer can be used by bomb squads or VIP security services to 
prevent the detonation of bombs by cell phones," Te'eni says. "We 
have also sold to prisons because top criminals are known to continue 
their operations or coordinate testimony using smuggled-in cell 
phones. In Brazil, riots were synchronized in five prisons using cell 
phones, and in Paris a prison escape was coordinated using cell 
.Te'eni compares the innocent-looking and simple cell phone to the 
cardboard cutters used by hijackers of the planes used in the Sept. 
11 attacks in the United States.
.Both have nonlethal and everyday uses that are positive, but both 
can also make life easier for criminals.
."A phone can remotely activate a bomb or be used for tactical 
communications such as a terrorist act, bank robbery, hostage 
situation or kidnapping," Te'eni says. "There are so many negative 
ways for using cell phones, which is why the ability to jam them is 
.Te'eni says much of the company's sales result from word-of-mouth 
recommendations, adding that Netline had sales last year of $1 
million to $2 million.
.As for the future, Te'eni says that Netline is looking for steady 
growth. "We want to find foreign strategic partners for selling our 
solutions worldwide to defense and espionage agencies. Security 
people are second-guessing themselves all the time now, so the future 
looks good," Te'eni says.

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