Do You Know When Stingrays Are in Use?

This year, California legislators voted for California Senate Bill 741, which prohibits local agencies from acquiring or using a stingray device unless “approved by a resolution or ordinance adopted by its legislative body at a regularly scheduled public meeting where the public has a reasonable opportunity to comment.” The bill also requires the resolution or ordinance to set forth policies on stingray use based on specific guidelines outlined in the legislation. In simple terms, local and community approval is required for stingray use.

But wait; let’s take a step back, what is a stingray device? Stingrays are cell-site simulators or IMSI catchers, designed to capture any device within range and essentially trick it into connecting with the stingray instead of the cell tower. This allows law enforcement to gather communications content, and also track or locate the person in possession of a specific phone or other electronic device. Think of your favorite crime TV show, Law & Order or Criminal Minds, when they ping cell towers and spoof phone calls to get criminals to unwittingly give up their locations with their cell phone use.

There’s a caveat to this Senate bill. While the bill does set transparency and privacy standards for cell phone interception devices to ensure that stingray-like interceptions are only used to catch criminals, and promises to NOT infringe on the general public’s personal privacy, how can you really be sure?

The reality is cell phone interception hardware is readily available to ANYONE; law enforcement of not, and there is no current oversight of its use when it comes to private citizens. This means that any malicious person or threat actor can easily target your personal or corporate devices for manipulation and data discovery using an interception device. The notion that California Senate Bill 741 can and will be enforced by authorities, or approved by the public, is simply a fantasy, unless software is adopted that can detect such rogue activities.

That’s why we built OptioCore, which detects, verifies, and lets a user know when their conversations or data transmissions have encountered cell phone interception. By notifying the user and carrier of suspicious cell activities, OptioCore gives California Senate Bill 741 a fighting chance for success.

The rights of law enforcement to utilize technology for information against criminal activity vs. rights of private citizens will continue to be a hot button issue for years to come. But, organizations can protect their employees and sensitive data now from unknown intrusions (both by law enforcement and threat actors) with the right software and protections in place.

Everyone has the right to protection and privacy of their data, and OptioCore ensures that enterprise organizations can have technology on their side to further secure their devices.

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