Wireless Electrical and Electromagnetic Pollution News
2 August 2010
August 2, 2010. Pick of the Week #5: Why the double standard?
Continued interest in the determine of appropriate national levels of exposure to microwave fields has directed attention to Soviet work in this field. The vastly different standards adopted in the two countries have aroused much speculation as to the reasons. In this paper the Russian work is reviewed, and the major individuals identified. An explanation for the different exposure limits is offered, based partly on the difference in national organization.
This document is written by Leo P. Inglis, who worked for Atomics International Division, North American Rockwell Corp.-- a company involved with the early development of nuclear technology for commercial and government applications.
In "Why the double standard?" Inglis tries to tease apart the reasons for the much safer radio frequency standards used in the USSR compared with those used in the USA.
A much quoted paragraph, and the focus of this document, is the following:
"In the U.S., the thermal effects are generally believed to be the only ones of significance; other contentions are usually dismissed as lacking a provable basis. In the USSR, non-thermal effects are considered the most significant and are overwhelmingly the ones most studied."
The documents goes on to describe the 3 stages of asthenic syndrome (or electrohypersensitivity) among Russian workers.
To read more . . . go to
Dr Magda Havas
Hacker Spoofs Cell Phone Tower to Intercept Calls
- By Kim Zetter
- July 31, 2010
A directional antenna is set up for a demonstration by security researcher Chris Paget, center. (Photo: Dave Bullock)
LAS VEGAS — A security researcher created a cell phone base station that tricks cell phones into routing their outbound calls through his device, allowing someone to intercept even encrypted calls in the clear.
The device tricks the phones into disabling encryption and records call details and content before they're routed on their proper way through voice-over-IP.
The low-cost, home-brewed device, developed by researcher Chris Paget, mimics more expensive devices already used by intelligence and law enforcement agencies – called IMSI catchers – that can capture phone ID data and content. The devices essentially spoof a legitimate GSM tower and entice cell phones to send them data by emitting a signal that's stronger than legitimate towers in the area.
"If you have the ability to deliver a reasonably strong signal, then those around are owned," Paget said.
Paget's system costs only about $1,500, as opposed to several hundreds of thousands for professional products. Most of the price is for the laptop he used to operate the system.
Doing this kind of interception "used to be a million dollars, now you can do it with a thousand times less cost," Paget said during a press conference after his attack. "If it's $1,500, it's just beyond the range that people can start buying them for themselves and listening in on their neighbors."
Paget's device captures only 2G GSM calls, making AT&T and T-Mobile calls, which use GSM, vulnerable to interception. Paget's aim was to highlight vulnerabilities in the GSM standard that allows a rogue station to capture calls. GSM is a second-generation technology that is not as secure as 3G technology.
Encrypted calls are not protected from interception because the rogue tower can simply turn it off. Although the GSM specifications say that a phone should pop up a warning when it connects to a station that does not have encryption, SIM cards disable that setting so that alerts are not displayed.
"Even though the GSM spec requires it, this is a deliberate choice on the cell phone makers," Paget said.
The system captures only outbound calls. Inbound calls would go directly to voicemail during the period that someone's phone is connected to Paget's tower.
The device could be used by corporate spies, criminals, or private investigators to intercept private calls of targets.
"Any information that goes across a cell phone you can now intercept," he said, except data. Professional grade IMSI catchers do capture data transfers, but Paget's system doesn't currently do this.
His setup included two RF directional antennas about three feet long to amplify his signal in the large conference room, a laptop and open source software. The system emitted only 25 milliwatts, "a hundred times less than your average cell phone," he said.
Paget received a call from FCC officials on Friday who raised a list of possible regulations his demonstration might violate. To get around legal concerns, he broadcast on a GSM spectrum for HAM radios, 900Mhz, which is the same frequency used by GSM phones and towers in Europe, thus avoiding possible violations of U.S. regulations.
Just turning on the antennas caused two dozen phones in the room to connect to Paget's tower. He then set it to spoof an AT&T tower to capture calls from customers of that carrier.
"As far as your cell phones are concerned, I am now indistinguishable from AT&T," he said. "Every AT&T cell phone in the room will gradually start handing over to my network."
During the demonstration, only about 30 phones were actually connecting to his tower. Paget says it can take time for phones to find the signal and hand off to the tower, but there are methods for speeding up that process.
To address privacy concerns, he set up the system to deliver a recorded message to anyone who tried to make a call from the room while connected to his tower. The message disclosed that their calls were being recorded. All of the data Paget recorded was saved to a USB stick, which he destroyed after the talk.
Customers of carriers that use GSM could try to protect their calls from being intercepted in this manner by switching their phones to 3G mode if it's an option.
But Paget said he could also capture phones using 3G by sending out jamming noise to block 3G. Phones would then switch to 2G and hook up with his rogue tower. Paget had his jammer and an amplifier on stage but declined to turn them on saying they would "probably knock out all Las Vegas cell phone systems."
Photo: Dave Bullock
Cell Phone War | PCNews.TV
Take a look at the safety precautions that come with your cell phone. 2. There were many reports and studies published proving cell phones cause brain tumor, infertility and other cancers. 3. The cell phone industry itself admits a ...
Old news but still interesting -
Empowering the public to protect children
and youth from unsafe wireless technologies.
Peace Arch News is holding a poll as to whether you are concerned about the impact of wireless technology on your health - (scroll down almost to the bottom of the page):
Citizens for Safe Technology Society
Controversy over Cell phone health hazards resurfaces
Over 200 million cell phone users may be endangering their health by holding the phone antenna too close to their brain, according to George Carlo, chairman of the Health Risk Management Group in Washington, D.C., and former director of Wireless Technology Research (WTR).
"We have reports of headaches, changes in blood pressure, changes in sleeping patterns, as well as cancer. We really can't sound the all clear," Slesin warns.
In a recent telephone interview, Carlo pointed to mounting evidence from researchers around the world that raise what he called "alarming questions" about the safety of mobile phones.
Results of research
The cellular phone industry, through the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), spent US$27 million dollars over six years trying to discover the health effects of cell phone use. They funded WTR to engage in scientific research and hired Carlo as director. Late last year, Carlo broke ranks with the industry when he announced the results. These included:
Higher brain cancer death rates among users of handheld cell phones than users of non-handheld units 50% higher incidence of acoustic neuroma, a benign tumor of the auditory nerve, in people who reported using cell phones for six years or more.
Double the number of rare neuro-epithelial tumors on the outside of the brain in cell-phone users as compared to non-cell phone users.
In a letter to the CEOs of 30 major cellular companies, Carlo warned them not to repeat the mistakes of the tobacco industry and avoid a potential backlash "for not being forthright about health effects." He was ignored. Carlo has since left the WTR and bitterly criticizes the cellular industry on their failure to act.
"The institutional arrogance of this industry is beyond comprehension," he says. "With 200 million people being exposed to cell phones, we can't wait around for the slow scientific process to work."
Louis Slesin, editor of Microwave News, a trade newsletter that tracks the cell-phone business, also urges caution. "We have reports of headaches, changes in blood pressure, changes in sleeping patterns, as well as cancer. We really can't sound the all clear," he warns.
More studies and evidence
The evidence continues to mount. Last November, a New York Times report cited findings by Prof. Henry Lai of the University of Washington that rats exposed to microwave radiation suffered long-term memory loss and genetic mutations. Late last month, London's Daily Mail reported that scientists from the European Research Institute of Electronic Components in Bucharest found evidence that cell phones can seriously damage the heart and kidneys. Also cited were results from studies at Sweden's Lund University showing two minutes of exposure from mobile phones can cause proteins and toxins to leak into the brain.
Cell phones send electromagnetic waves into users' brains. The proximity of the phone antenna to the head determines the amount of radiation exposure. According to Carlo, the antenna radiation plume penetrates two to three inches into the brain, and in children, it penetrates the entire brain.
The amount of microwave radiation allowable in cell phones is regulated by the FCC. According to Carlo, this standard is based on microwave-oven data, not based on phones. "The industry maintains that they meet all safety standards," he said. "There are no safety standards!"
"Not true," countered JoAnne Basile, CTIA vice president of external and industry relations. In a telephone interview earlier this month, Basile stated that "all cellular phones are designed to maximize performance and meet strict FCC safety guidelines."
20/20 flunked 4 out of 5 models
However, last fall, ABC News 20/20 commissioned an independent test of the radiation emissions of five popular cell phones. They aired the results on their program- Four out of five of the phones flunked the test. They exceeded the FCC safety standards in at least one antenna position. The only phone that was within the allowable range was the Motorola Star Tac, designed with an antenna that positions it away from the head.
Whatever the truth turns out to be, for now we have only conflicting viewpoints and data around an issue that affects a very large number of people. Magazines like Wired, PC Computing and Mother Jones have also run stories on the controversy.
And it must be noted that a number of researchers maintain that cell phones are perfectly safe. Here's a sampling from the CTIA Web site:
The FDA's current advisory states that "available science does not allow us to conclude that mobile phones are absolutely safe or that they are unsafe. If there is a risk from these products — and at this point, we do not know that there is — it is probably very small."
Joshua Muscat of the American Health Foundation: "At this point, I don't see scientific data that suggests there should be a behavior change for people (in the way they use wireless phones)."
The Royal Society of Canada: "The weight of evidence does not support the conclusion that exposure to RF fields of the type and intensity produced by wireless telecommunications devices contributes to the production or growth of tumours in animals or humans."
The World Health Organization: "Current scientific evidence indicates that exposure to low levels of RF fields, including those emitted by mobile phones and their base stations, is unlikely to induce or promote cancers."
'No public health threat'
Throughout this barrage of scientific news, the cellular industry has unwaveringly stated that cell phones are safe. "After a substantial amount of research, scientists and governments around the world continue to reaffirm that there is no public health threat from the use of wireless phones," states Tom Wheeler, CTIA president and CEO. Adds Basile, "If you decide to use a headset, earbud, or other handsfree device, it should be for convenience and not because of health concerns."
According to Basile, "only two studies (by the WTR) had findings that raised interesting scientific questions and required further research. We are working with the FDA to follow up on those studies."
While the scientists duke it out, there are steps you can take if you are concerned.
Slesin recommends using a headset because "distance is your friend in this issue." Carlo, admittedly "addicted" to his cell phone, uses a headset for safety. He recommends that children and teenagers use pagers and avoid cell phones entirely until their early twenties.
The FDA suggests that concerned consumers follow these guidelines:
Time is a key factor. Avoid lengthy conversations on mobile phones.
In your car, use a mobile phone with the antenna mounted outside. This will require the permanent installation of components such as a power booster, speaker and microphone. You'll most likely need a professional installer to do the work. A faster, cheaper solution is to get a device that plugs into your cigarette lighter and provides an external speaker and microphone. Ask your cell-phone provider for advice finding one that works with your equipment.
Use a headset. Using an earbud or headset, connected to your cell phone via a thin cord, gets the phone antenna away from your brain and makes hands-free phoning a reality. Cell headsets are available through Plantronics and Hello Direct. Jabra makes earsets.
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