A massive security flaw that could let hackers listen in on private calls and read text messages has been revealed.
The flaw, is in a global telecom network called Signal System 7 that helps phone carriers across the world, including AT&T and Verizon, route calls and texts.
The flaws, to be reported at a hacker conference in Hamburg this month, are the latest in a string of major flaws in the system.
'Experts say it's increasingly clear that SS7, first designed in the 1980s, is riddled with serious vulnerabilities that undermine the privacy of the world's billions of cellular customers,' said The Washington Post, which first uncovered flaws in the system earlier this year.
The flaws discovered by the German researchers are actually functions built into SS7 for other purposes – such as keeping calls connected as users speed down highways, switching from cell tower to cell tower.
However, hackers worked out a way to repurpose the features for surveillance because of the lax security on the network.
Although the extent of the flaws has not yet been revealed, it is believed hackers can locate callers anywhere in the world, listen to calls as they happen or record hundreds of encrypted calls and texts at a time for later decryption.