Hi Guys,

Google has finally given Android users the option to disable 2G connections on their smartphones. You need to do this now, as using 2g represents a significant risk to your privacy. The EFF (Electronic Freedom Frontier) has welcomed the development news as a victory for privacy protection. You can read their statement HERE

I will show you how to do this for both Android and iOS but before, let me explain what it is and why you need to be concerned.

What is 2g?

When you look at your phone reception indicator on your phone at the top of your screen, you will, in most cases, see information about the phone network you are connected it. There are usually three pieces of information:

* The name of the operator that you are connected to

* 2G/3G/4G/LTE, which will be to the left or right of the name

* The strength of your connection. 

If you are on 2G, your phone connection will be slow as your phone is communicating through an older system, and when you are on 4g, the connection is fast because you are on a new system. 5g will allow you to not only surf the internet at an unnecessarily fast speed, but as you can read here, SoftBank in Japan say it is possible to wirelessly charge your headphones just by standing next to a 5g tower!! Read the article HERE https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/SoftBank2/SoftBank-plans-wireless-power-grid-to-charge-smartwatches-earbuds 

Can 2g be hacked?

Yes, 2g and in some cases 3g can be hacked to allow the operator to fool your phone into thinking the attacking party is a trusted part of the telecoms setup. Once they do this, they will be able to listen to your phone calls, read your SMS messages, send messages on your behalf, lock your phone from communicating, and carry out numerous crowd surveillance and enforcement actions.

How can it be hacked?

2g can be hacked with devices called cell-site simulators or IMSI Catchers. In the US, these devices are called Stingrays, but they have many other names worldwide and are made by very serious defense contractors. They are used by nearly every police and government agency around the developed and, in some cases, the underdeveloped world.

What is Stingray?

Stingrays are cellular interceptors that trick the target phone into thinking that the interceptor is the real phone network. The target’s phone will assume that the Stingray is the local cell tower and connect to it. Your phone is always looking for the fastest cell tower. The Stingray, by increasing its power, will get most local cellphones to connect to it. The Stingray can now listen to calls and SMS messages, and they can also track precisely (within inches) where the phone is using a combination of vehicle-based direction finding and using body-worn directional finders.

Stingrays can also be used to identify every phone present at an event and can even be used to jam phone signals so that these phones will not be able to communicate with each other. Even if you are walking by an event, your phone can be picked up as being there. 

How to protect yourself

Here are a few things that you can do to help avoid detection by a stingray or other cellular interceptor:-

* If your network is 3g or 4g, set your phone only to allow 3g and 4g connections. Many interceptors can only decrypt 2g communications, so most of the time, when they lock on to your phone, they force your connection to 2g. If you have your phone set to only allow 3g and 4g (or LTE), they will not be able to force your phone to 2g. Some of them can decrypt 3g, so if you can force to only allow 4g or LTE, you are good as well. From what we can tell, no one can break LTE just yet. 

Follow these steps for Android:

* If you have a newer Android phone (such as a Pixel 6 or some new Samsung phones), you can disable 2G right now by following these steps:

* Select Settings

* Select Network & Internet

* Select SIMs

* Select Allow 2G

* Turn this setting off

Follow these steps for iPhone:

Apple has not given us the same options as Google here, but you can force your phone to only use 4g by following these steps:

* Select Settings.

* Select Mobile Data.

* Select Mobile Data Options.

* Select Voice & Data.

* To enable 3G, select 3G.

* To enable 4G, select 4G. 

Please let me know if you need any more info on this. 

Have a great rest of your day.

Max Roberts,

Incognito Privacy Care Team