How Secure is My Mobile Carrier’s Network?
The National Security Agency (NSA) prescribes security regulations covering operating practices, including the transmission, handling and distribution of signals intelligence (internet, phone, etc.) and communications security material under control of the NSA’s director. The NSA acts as the national manager for national security and answers to the secretary of defense and the director of national intelligence.
The NSA uses the Android operating system with double encryption for voice communications and a unique routing scheme for 3G wireless communications. You’ve got to figure that if their people are communicating with the president of the United States, then they need to be on a secure, protected network. But you, on the other hand, aren’t the NSA and don’t really need that.
While there is no such thing as 100 percent secure, your mobile carrier’s wireless is pretty much as secure as it can be due to the way it is setup, and the security technology is built into the way the network communicates with the hardware in your mobile device. There are numerous encryption methods, keys and authentication tools designed to identify each user and provide a secure channel of communication.
Mobile broadband (your carrier’s network, which you use to send and receive data over 3G/4G) has a degree of encryption that has been cracked before—hence the reason why the NSA uses double encryption—but the necessary hardware isn’t widely available to criminals. Researchers have demonstrated how the system can be hacked, but it’s still more secure than other options—particularly WiFi, which is unsecured.
Standalone, unprotected WiFi is far from NSA-grade secure and requires additional encryption for anyone at any level to be protected. On WiFi, at a minimum, use a secure virtual private network (VPN) such as the free Hotspot Shield VPN proxy that protects your identity by ensuring that all web transactions (shopping, filling out forms, downloads, etc.) are secured through HTTPS.
Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.