How To Track Someone's Location Via Cell Phone

For all those people who say the government cannot track people with their cell phones, two security researchers say it’s actually not that hard, and anyone can do it. What’s more, they claim it’s not even illegal.

Nick DePetrillo and Don Bailey of iSec Partners claim to have found found how to track someone with their cell phone. They don’t even need a phone number to start with in many cases, as they can use public databases on open source PBX software to match up names and numbers. In fact, they can match up caller IDs for the entire U.S. in just a few weeks of database processing time. Next, they use the SS7 public switched network routes and a few other available bits of data to pinpoint the location of a cell phone number and thus the phone/ owner. This includes the Home Location Register (HLR), which cellular networks use to determine phone location. According to CNET, the HLR is normally only available to telecoms but is now available for a few through a few European companies. (Note: This research piggybacks on something presented at the 25th Chaos Communications Congress in 2008. A document is available entitled Locating Mobile Phones using SS7 (PDF, 29 pages) from the conference.)