Technology

Lawmakers demand briefings on cell network security flaw

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Top lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee asked major telecom providers on Tuesday to brief them on a security vulnerability in the global cellphone network.

The CBS show “60 Minutes” ran a segment this month detailing the weakness in the protocols, known as SS7. Those protocols, used to connect cellphones around the world, allow hackers to listen in on phone calls when they only know a device’s number.

{mosads}The leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee — Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and ranking member Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) — wrote to AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, CenturyLink and Frontier Communications asking them for briefings on the security flaw.

“The seriousness of any such vulnerability cannot be understated,” they wrote to AT&T’s chief executive, for example. “Given the role of SS7 in our global communications networks, these vulnerabilities expose anyone using a phone to a possible security breach.

“In order for the Committee to gain a better understanding of any security flaws in the SS7 protocol and the risks they represent, we request that the Chief Technology Officer of your company be available to brief the Committee.”

They were joined in signing the letter by Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), the chairman and ranking member, respectively, for the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. Walden had expressed concerns with the vulnerability after the “60 Minutes” report.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) has also requested a hearing for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

–This report was updated at 2:52 p.m.

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