SS7 means “Signaling System 7,” which is a global telecommunications standard in charge of defining the way network elements in a PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) exchange data over a digital signaling network. The SS7 network is comprised of a set of nodes, which go by the name of signaling points.
SS7 has reserved or dedicated channels named signaling links. Three kinds of network points exist Service Switching Points (SSPs), Signal Transfer Points (STPs), and Service Control Points (SCPs). The three have specific functions at the moment of routing a call or communicating on the SS7 network.
SS7 hosts traffic routed by STPs, which are essentially packet switches. In the case that one network point fails, SCPs and STPs are there as backups, mated with the intention of continuing providing the determinate service.
The SS7 implements out-of-band signaling, meaning that the data travels on a separate 56 or 64 Kbps channel as opposed to the same channel as the phone call. If the SS7 is used, these calls can be configured more efficiently, with additional services such as wireless roaming and call forwarding being available and easily managed.
The SS7 standard and web vulnerability
Sadly, the SS7 standard has demonstrated to be vulnerable. Only five years ago, in 2014, security experts in Germany discovered that it had security holes that represent severe risks, as hackers, and malicious people can track users’ phone movements and eavesdrop chats and conversations. It is, by all means, a man-in-the-middle attack that takes advantage of the lack of authentication in the communications protocols running over SS7.
With the SS7 hack, it is incredibly straightforward to vulnerate anybody’s mobile phone without their knowledge. Just by knowing the person’s phone number, hackers can track the user’s movements, read messages, and record private voice calls, among other things.
The SS7 system convention has been continually (mis)used by law enforcement agencies such as the SA and the GCHQ to snoop on people’s private life. Fortunately, you can secure your calls and messages from the SS7 hack.
The fight against cybercrime
Sadly, with the rise of the Internet and the popularity of digital devices and resources, hackers and cybercriminals have also grown as potentially devastating entities capable of spying even the most private files and folders in your mobile device.
The web is filled with content snoopers, spies, state-supported institutions and organizations with different interests, interlopers, programmers, sniffers, cheats, impostors, scammers, and other malicious agents.
Thankfully, there are several ways or methods you can implement to protect your device and digital assets from the SS7 hack. Here are the most effective strategies you can apply to achieve top-notch shielding from this threat:
- Use only messaging apps with end-to-end encryption, as it is a vital requirement to obtain protection. If you want to protect your private messages from hackers and snoopers that threaten to gain a hold of your mobile privacy, prioritize the use of instant messaging apps with end-to-end encryption, such as WhatsApp, Telegram, or Signal.
- Stay away from carrier networks if you are going to have an extraordinarily private or personal conversation in your mobile device
Use a VPN and trust your privacy to the right hands
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The best and most efficient way to protect your mobile device from the SS7 hack is using a VPN. ‘Virtual Private Networks’ is the full name of this useful content encryption and rerouting tool that can hide the user’s IP address (which shows its online identity and location) and traffic for data protection purposes.
VPNs come in the form of apps or clients offered by online security companies. The best ones in the market are incredibly compatible, which is convenient because you can deploy them on both desktop computers and laptops, but most importantly, on mobile devices such as Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and others.
The VPN app can implement a set of protocols to create a virtual tunnel for which the user’s data and IP number will pass, protected from hackers, content snoopers, spies, cybercriminals, scammers, and other situations or agents, such as censorship, surveillance, targeted and behavior-based advertising, and more. You can easily avoid suffering from the SS7 hack in your mobile device if you choose to implement a VPN provider.
VPNs were developed with online security and privacy in mind, under the promotion of anonymous browsing. However, as an added feature, they can also unblock international or geo-blocked content, because they can not only hide your real IP address but also lend you one for temporary use from the location you select.
Essentially, you can avoid the SS7 hack in your phone by implementing a VPN because your traffic and calls would be encrypted, and external agents won’t have access to that information even if they try.
A VPN usually positions itself between the user and a broader network, typically the Internet. Whereas the Internet Service Provider (ISP,) through its servers, is the one in charge of managing traffic requests for the user; the VPN, if enabled, would take this responsibility. If a Virtual Private Network is deployed, it would receive connection petitions from the person and send them to the web with a different IP address.
Security experts identify VPNs as the best tools to protect against the SS7 hack because they can make sure the user’s information passes through encrypted passages, being unintelligible for unauthorized individuals at all times.
How to protect yourself from the SS7 hack with a VPN
- Choose a VPN with robust AES 256-bit encryption and excellent content protection features
- Go to that VPN’s website
- Pick your preferred plan and payment method
- Register for the VPN service, providing the personal information details that the VPN requires
- Create a username and a password
- Download and install the VPN app or client on your device
- Launch the VPN app
- Sign in to your recently created VPN account
- Connect to a VPN server
- Enjoy encrypted calls and messages
Why TorGuard is the best VPN for avoiding the SS7 hack
If you are looking for a VPN with extremely efficient security measures and configurations, look no further and choose TorGuard. It implements the military-grade AES 256-bit encryption to protect the user’s content fiercely. Coupled with a strict no-logging policy, a kill switch, DNS leak protection, and a flawless track record in the market, TorGuard is the best alternative if you want to avoid the SS7 hack in your mobile device.
TorGuard has apps for the most widely used mobile operating systems, which are Android and iOS. You can set the service up in up to five different devices at the same time, and it has more than 3,000 servers in 55 nations around the world.
In conclusion, the SS7 hack threatens to make calls and private messages vulnerable to snooping and spying. However, if the person implements a VPN, the communication will be encrypted at all levels.