Cyber Security Challenges in Cellular Networks
The mobile technology landscape is changing rapidly, resulting in new and exciting capabilities. Such abilities have made people dependent on mobile devices. For instance, people use smartphones to make voice communication. Additionally, they use these technologies to share files, chat, send email messages. Moreover, they use mobile technology to access the internet to perform online banking and make other payments through other channels. High dependence on mobile phones has created an avenue for crimes. For instance, cybercriminals are using viruses to orchestrate fraud and theft. For example, some hackers use malicious means to infect malware on people’s mobile devices, enabling them to collect sensitive data that they exploit for their selfish interests. Significantly, when criminals are suspected, though the law protects them using the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits law enforcers from searching and seizing items unnecessarily, their mobile devices are compounded and subjected to investigations. It is essential to note this process involves four stages: the mobile device’s seizure, a duplicate of hard disk, know acquisition, the analysis of data gathered, and the final presentation of the findings. Unfortunately, this process has numerous challenges. For instance, hardware differences and lack of forensic tools to assess certain devices, anti-forensic techniques that hinder information extraction are among the major hurdles the forensic experts face.
The technology landscape is changing at a breathtaking pace. As a result, new and diverse technologies have been developed, which enable humanity to connect and accomplish tasks without much struggle. Such revolutionary tools are the mobile networks commonly used to make calls, send a text message, and enable people to connect to the internet, among other crucial tasks. Notably, the internet has made people across the world to be dependent on these devices. This is because the internet enables individuals to exploit social media platforms, among other applications, to fulfill their fundamental daily obligation. The interconnection of these devices has made it easy for people to share files, among other items that make life fulfilling. Unfortunately, the outlined connectivity has presented significant cybersecurity challenges in today’s words. Incidentally, hackers with malicious intent use the internet to propagate viruses and launch other forms of attacks that compromise important information technology tenets: confidentiality, integrity, and system resource availability (Pan & Yang, 2018). By doing so, they become the target of law enforcers; thus, their devices are likely to be seized and investigated. This research paper will explore cellular networks, explain how they communicate, highlight threats facing mobile technologies, and explain how the mobile device of suspected hackers can be seized and investigated.
A cell phone is used primarily for communications over a cellular network of cell sites. Important to note, apart from voice communication, mobile devices serve a diverse range of services. For instance. They contain numerous services and accessories. Such services are the Short Message Service, commonly referred to as SMS, which has been exploited in conveying brief texts (Miakotko, 2017). Also, SMS service has been exploited by business people across the world to promote their products. Mobile phones have Bluetooth, a technology that enables wireless transfer of files between devices. These devices also have packet switching, making it possible for people to access the internet to browse various services. Another vital service available in cellular networks is the email, which enables people to communicate, share files, among other essential obligations. Moreover, an MMS stands for multimedia messaging services, a method meant to transfer multimedia graphics such as video and sound files. This service is critical as it allows for the sharing of photos. Video clips and audio files. Other notable features available in mobile phones are mp3 player, video recorder and camera, and Global Positioning System
Mobile cellular networks offer voice communication. Notably, each geographical region has base stations that are distributed in various parts. Importantly each base station serves a particular region, which means that mobile devices in that region use that specific station to communicate. The small area served by the base station is further divided into cells. All the mobile phones present within a given cell area connect to the cell’s base station for communication purposes (Amorim, 2017). And in case the cell phone owner moves from one region to another, then his connection is moved into a new base station to ensure he continues to enjoy a stable network that aids smooth communication. Therefore during migration, cell phone from region to another, the base status or cell towers connect with each where the current tower handoff packets of a signal which can be data, voice and text information to the new tower which will make them available to the cell phones which act as receivers. Needless to say, network providers more often use each other’s towers, ending up with a complex web that results in the widest possible network coverage to cell phone users across the country.
The cellular networks transmit signal information by land. Significantly, the user’s microphone picks up their voice, converted into a signal of zeros and ones. The signal is then converted into electromagnetic waves by the cell phone antenna. These waves cannot reach the intended cell phone due to noise interference from environmental factors, electrical pieces of equipment, and physical objects. Additionally, the long-distance involved could make the signals attenuate, thus get distorted. For these reasons, these waves are then picked up by a cell tower located in the cell. After that, the cell tower converts the electromagnetic waves into frequencies transmitted into the tower base to a Transceiver box device, sending the high frequencies pulses to the cell tower located in the hexagonal cell of the recipient. The cell tower uses the Mobile Switching Center to find the home cell tower’s location that will receive the waves on transit Singh & Nikandia, 2017). Upon arrival at the receiver’s home cell tower, the high frequencies pulses are converted into electromagnetic waves that are later converted to signals and finally to voice, which is understandable by human beings.
Mobile Switching Center plays a significant role in the communication of cell towers and cellular networks. Importantly, they are designed to enable base stations to connect to them and have the ability to get connected to the Public Switched Telephone network. These mobile switching devices are critical because they are the one that handles three essential aspects of communication that setting up callers, releasing, and routing (Singh & Nikandia, 2017). In routing, they are involved in handling handovers between the base station controllers. Important to note, the MSC comes into play in routing communication in a network. During registration, the user’s information is stored in a database called the Home Location Register in a home mobile switching center. The data stored reveals the user subscriptions details such as location, among others. As the user moves, the home mobile switching center keeps tracking the cell phone’s location. Therefore, during communication, when the user’s cell tower is launching a call to a friend receives the signals, it converts them electromagnetic waves then into high frequencies of light pulses. The mobile switching center identifies the cell tower where the recipient is located, enabling the cell tower to rout the signal to the appropriate tower.
The frequency spectrum is of utmost importance in enabling effective communication. However, the primary issue is that it is limited, and the subscriber of cellular networks continue to increase every. To address this challenge, various strategies have been devised to enable people to communicate throughout. Such methods include the frequency slot distribution, where frequencies are distributed among the active users in a given cell area. Additionally, multiple access techniques allow users to access and reuse frequencies available in a given geographical region. In other words, these techniques allow usage of established radio frequencies and frequency reuse, thus enabling the provision of services to man subscribers due to limited bandwidth. Notably, the commonly widely used techniques are the Global system for mobile communication, Code Division Multiple Access, and Frequency Multiple Access Frequency.
Frequency division multiples access is the oldest multiple access systems in history. Importantly, these strategy works based on a single carrier per channel, which means that the total channel bandwidth is broken down into separate and non-overlapping slots allocated dynamically to the user’s first-served basis (Isaiah, 2016). Important to note, this multiples access mechanism was used in some cellular networks, and it eliminates interference in that once a user has been allocated a band. The allocated channel belongs to him, and he can transmit data till he or she ends her call. The channel or the band are separated bu girds that are placed in between them to minimize interference. Additionally, this access scheme ensures that users in a given cell transmit signal simultaneously as each of them has a separate and disjoint frequency, which they individually exploit. Despite having minimum interference, there have drawbacks. The carrying capacity is relatively low, and during uplink times, the news to be power coordination to prevent suppression of weaker signals by those with high strength.
Time Division multiple access is a method used by the most global mobile communication system to transmit the call. The outlined strategy allocates each calls a given time slot to transmit its data (Nguyen, Feger, Bechter, Pichler-Scheder, & Stelzer, 2020). This enables frequency reuse in that multiples users can use the transmission channels at different times. Meaning a user in a given hexagonal cell region can use a given channel at a specified time. However, this method requires accurate synchronization of the receiver and transmitter to work effectively. For this reason, several adjustments have to be made in that an earlier signal for the user to send is required to avoid delays that can occur in the process. Important to note, this method is used in GSM phones, which is convenient because a majority of the data is carried on subscriber identify module card; thus, in case you need to swap phone, the user needs to remove the sim card from the older phone and insert into newer ones and then it will connect to the provider’s GSM network
This technology allows a cellular network to transmit over a spread of spectrum. In other words, these methods will enable a user to use an entire range (Nguyen et al., 2020). The receiver is given a code that will facilitate extracting the information of interest from a large pool of data from multiple sources to multiple receivers. Importantly, CDMA assumes its operation. For instance, it assumes that multiple signals add linearly. Cell phones using this strategy do identify subscribers based on SIM cards but rather on a safe list. Therefore only approved phones are allowed on their networks, thus not offering much freedom as GSM phones.
The first wireless network mobile phones were referred to as the 1st generation wireless communication. Needless to say, this was the first phone without a cable attached to it, and all its transmission was in an analog format. Though it was portable, people could carry it. It had several drawbacks. For instance, analog signals led to poor voice quality and were easy to alter by external sources; thus, they presented a huge security flaw. Additionally, they were large in size, poor battery and reliability. In a bid to improve one 1, the generation phone, the second generation phones were invented.
Second-generation mobile networks used Frequency Division multiple access. Importantly, this generation of mobile phones, commonly referred to as the next generation, marked a major transition in wireless communication history (Vij & Jain, 2016). Incidentally, the migration from analog to a digital signal. These devices’ security drastically improved because digital signals made it hard for people with malicious intentions to alter the contents. Additionally, these phones were smaller in size and had better battery quality. Additionally, they offered a short message service, enabling people to call and send a text message. However, the second generation usage of Frequency Division Multiple Access was its major drawback. This strategy divides the bandwidth into no overlapping channels, and it was assigned to users. Notably, this was inefficient usage of frequencies available as a result, three-generation mobile networks were born
The third generation’s phones were designed to offer improved data transmission rates. Importantly, these mobile devices live up to that expectation by achieving a speed of 2mbs, which was the best speed of that time. Importantly these phones could be used for internet browsing video calling. These capabilities become the cornerstone of the smartphone devices that we enjoy today. Notably, they used wideband code division multiple access, which offers efficient bandwidth channels (Vij & Jain, 2016). After that, a 4th generation was brought into the market, which has been revolutionary in every aspect. Phones in this category can achieve speeds of 20-100mbs. This is made possible due to multiple-input and multiple outputs and orthogonal frequency division multiple access. Additionally, such devices can provide voice communication and multimedia sessions over the internet. These capabilities have enabled people to use 4g for diverse activities, such as video conferencing.
The latest mobile technology in the market is the 5th generation cellular network technology, commonly referred to as 5G. Importantly, these devices have high speeds that are up to 10 Gigabit per second (Vij & Jain, 2016). This has made possible by using higher radio frequencies than the previous technology, thus achieving higher download speeds than their predecessors. Notably, this technology is the same as the previous one in that a region is divided into cells, and all devices 5G are connected to the internet and telephone by radio waves through a local antenna in the cell, thus having high bandwidth which increases the speed to 10 gigabits per second.
The major operating system used by many smartphones is Android, which is the current market leader. Important to note, it is followed by IOs, which specifically designed for apple-related phones. Other operating systems used in the market include windows, which has been on a decline since Microsoft Corporation announced Windows phones’ death. There are other operating. For instance, before the Android, Nokia native Symbian operating system was the most popular operating system. However, later on, they ditched their operating system and resolved to use windows, which has been on the demise recently.
Losing a mobile device can result in a loss of confidentiality and integrity of important information. More often, people lose their phones in a variety of ways. For instance, some devices get stolen, or others who are careless drop them either on the bus on the train (Pan & Yang, 2018). When a person a mobile phone with critical files that pertain to the organization he or she is associated with, then there might be a breach of security. This is possible, especially when the device is not well protected with passwords and encryption of files performed. For instance, when there is no password required, the new illegitimate user can power the device extracts data, and if it is important, she might look for clients who might be interested in it by putting it on the deep web. If information was sensitive, it might result in a lost reputation or a competitive edge.
More often, mobile devices face the challenge of an unsecured wife. Adversaries usually create free wifi, especially in public places. These tempt the people in that environment to connect to it, to take advantage of open connections, not knowing that they have fallen into a trap. As a result, vital information is extracted, which is used to launch attacks against the user (Pan & Yang, 2018). On the other hand, mobile users are in danger, especially when they fail to update their operating system. This is because updates are usually safer as they are an improved version with several batches to the discovered vulnerabilities. Thus, if the user fails to update her phone, he uses an unsafe operating system that exposes her device to danger if cyber criminals access his device.
An unsafe application can be as dangerous as malware. Notably, despite various AppStore trying their best to ensure all applications listed on the play store are safe for usage, some misuse their certificates; thus, there is a possibility of them containing malicious software (Pan & Yang, 2018). Also, some applications request more permission than they need for their operations. As a result, they extract more data from the users, which exposes the users to more harm. When hackers intrude into their system, they can steal that data and use it illegally. On the other hand, some use root or jailbreak their devices, thinking that by doing so, they will get the best out of mobile, not knowing that eliminate built-in restriction expose the device to security issues.
Mobile devices face danger from malicious software. Malware can be shared as links, and once they are activated, they can take control of the phones, thus stealing passwords and other confidential data from adversaries. This has been witnessed by some individuals where malware has been used to send information from multiple phone devices across the world to a remote server where they are mined by an advertiser who uses it for advertisement purposes. Unfortunately, some of this information has landed into cybercriminals who extract information, especially one regarding credit, debit, and pay pall accounts and use to compromise those payment systems’ status by stealing money therein. Therefore, since mobile devices have access to the internet, it is easy for malware to affect them, which will result in a breach of confidentiality, integrity, and availability of system resources.
Mobile devices have an electronic component critical in forensic investigation, and they are known as the Flash memory chips that enable deleted data to be recovered. In other words, if even a suspected deletes data, it will still be persistent in the device because it is stored in flash chips that contain that data. This ability is an advantage for forensic investigation experts. Some people are not aware that deleted data can be retrieved; thus, they can be confident that they are safe; however, when data is recovered, they will be shocked. Therefore, Memory flash chips, which are electronic components, play a crucial role in forensic investigation.
The fourth Amendment bill is legislation that was created to safeguard the public from unnecessary seizures and searches. Importantly, this legislation prohibits police officers and other law enforcement from conducting an investigation or taking someone’s law by stating that people and their respective properties such as houses, cars, and electronics have the right to be secure (Logan & Linford, 2019). For this, the law requires that if an agency wants to conduct a seizure or search concerning a particular crime, the involved parties should be informed via a search warrant notification to prepare psychologically to avoid great ambushes. However, the same legislation allows law enforcement an n opportunity to perform seizure and search for mobile devices and other relevant items if they have a probable or compelling reason to believe that those items have evidence regarding a crime. Therefore, though police officers are prohibited from conducting searches, if they have some proof that a given device can help prosecute a case, they are allowed to seize and subject to an investigation.
The mobile forensic process is conducted by relevant law enforcement agencies or other forensic experts who have in-depth knowledge of conducting a thorough investigation. It is important to note that the process has four stages: seizure, acquisition, analysis, and reporting (Dogan & Akbal, 2017). The first stage begins with the seizure of a mobile device from a suspect or suspects. This process is critical as it aims to preserve the evidence in its original form to aid the legal proceedings. Here involved parties are advised to cut off all wireless networks to the device because failure to do might enable remote access resulting in deletion and tampering of the collected digital evidence.
The second phase of the mobile forensic process is acquisition. The exact sector-level duplication of the seized mobile devices creates various electronic and software tools in this stage. For instance, an image of the smartphone can be made by a hard disk duplicator, which usually writes a blocking device to avoid overwriting the device (Umar, Riadi & Zamroni, 2018). Something will corrupt the evidence. Additionally, software imaging devices such as DCFLdd, IXimager, Guymager, and TrueBack, EnCase can be used to create a copy of the devices. In this stage, the main plan is to create an image or copy or duplicate of the hard disk, which usually stores all information on the device.
The third phase of the mobile investigation process is the analysis phase. Here the forensic experts are deeply interested in finding information that either supports or contradicts the evidence. The experts use information technology tools such as EnCase, ILOOKIX, and FTK, among others, to view and recover deleted data from the hard drive to find such information (Sai, Prasad & Dekka, 2015). Important to note, depending on the types of investigation, various information can be of great interest. However, most investigators explore email messages, chat logs, document files, and internet history to find additional information. Notably, various search tools are used to search the herded for crucial information. For instance, keyword searching helps experts locate relevant information that regards the topic of interest.
Data carving is mobile forensic methods used to extract data from hard drive storage without a file system’s aid. It is important to note that this technique is unique because data extraction happens without matching file system metadata (Alherbawi, Shukur & Sulaiman, 2016). These techniques are essential, significantly when there are damaged or missing file system structures in the mobile device under question. This is because the process scans raw bites and then reassemble the involved bytes based on specific file characteristics. On the other hand, compound file analysis is used for malware analysis in forensic investigations. These files are arranged in arrays and have directories that are storage directories similar to file folders. Notably, the data streams can be reconstructed using the sector IDs. The file sectors are comprised of fields and are located at offset 0. Also, the structure of the file is composed of direct entries.
The last phase is reporting, which entails the presentation of the finding of the investigation. Important to note, the research is required to be aware of the audience’s expectation of the information (Sai, Prasad & Dekka, 2015). This enables the presentation of relevant information that is useful to the client or the court. Therefore, they should discard data that does not add value or supporter contradict the research question. Also, since most of the audience and judges in court some have not forensic or Information technology background, it is crucial that the presentation of evidence be done in an easy to standard format suitable for non-technical individuals. Audience. The evidence provided offers insights into how a crime was orchestrated. It would be used in a court of law to bring the perpetrators into a book for violating the rule of law. Notably, the evidence can be showcased using the vide film; still, photos, sound recordings, and transcription of video discussion obtained
There are many challenges concerning mobile forensic challenges. The first of them is hardware differences (Sai, Prasad & Dekka, 2015). Most mobile devices present an enormous challenge to forensic experts for many reasons. Mobiles devices run on multiple and diverse operating systems. For instance, some use the android operating system while others use IOs, windows, among others. Notably, these operating systems undergo numerous updated that create a new version. This becomes for the experts to keep with these changes because they have to learn to deal with a diverse operating system and their respective versions. On the other hand, some mobile devices have advanced security features to enhance information privacy that encrypts the hardware’s data. This becomes a hurdle that forensic experts must break that encryption before they can access data, an activity that requires resources and waste times.
Mobile technology is developing and changing at a breathtaking pace. Consequently, there are various devices to carry out forensic examinations. Some tools might work on a particular operating system of hardware models, which means that experts must have an extensive library for forensic tools, which translates to high cost (Sai, Prasad & Dekka, 2015). Besides, it sometimes difficult to identify suitable tools to perform analysis on a given device. Also, in the investigation process, a slight mistake, such as an accidental reset of the device, might lead to losing entire data contained therein in the device.
Other challenges include malicious programs that can be used to give the suspect remote access to the device. Once remotely logged in, they can delete files that critical for law enforcement to implicate them in a crime. Additionally, some people have access to anti-forensic techniques. For instance, some devices have data hiding capability, which makes information recovery almost impossible. Also, there is a technique such as secure wiping, which an anti-forensic strategy that can include the facilitation of information from devices. Other methods that possess a challenge in the forensic examination is data forgery and data obfuscation, which make digital media hard to recover data therein
The biggest threat posed by cybercriminals in today’s world is in regard to malware. Important to note, various malicious software serve different purposes. For instance, some malware is activated on the user’s browsers; thus, they collect credit card information and other banking information (Sai, Prasad & Dekka, 2015). This information is used by adversaries to steal large amounts of money that adversary other financial well-being. Additionally, some software is used to spy on an individual’s whereabouts, which can be used to reveal vital information about the victims, which is an infringement of the system resources’ confidentiality and integrity. Also, hackers can use viruses to encrypt data in a mobile device and seeking a ransom for them to e able to unlock. This is especially when they know the target has crucial information that they would not want to lose. For instance, they can encrypt all files on the phone; thus, the victims fear losing those images they might be forced to pay a ransom. Therefore, cybercriminals using virus which are propagated across the internet can steal important information that can be used to affect the general public
Secondly, cybercriminals pose phishing problems. They can create bank accounts forms and prompt users to update their data concerning their bank accounts as the user inputs the information they get stored by the adversary who later exploits them for her own selfish interest. Additionally, some hackers can intercept business email in what is called spear phishing. After an email interception, the hackers change invoice details to enable them to receive payment. Since the invoice receiver is not aware of an alteration, they will pay the adversaries millions of money, thinking that they have paid the right partner. These forms of fraud are dangerous because losing millions of dollars hurts the economy as the dynamic business might be a force out of the market, leading to the loss of millions of jobs.
In brief, mobile technology is vital to human life. However, its connection to the internet allows hackers to inflict harm on innocent people. Important to note that it is achieved through propagating a virus that becomes active when they clicked. Such virus poses a serious security threat because they can steal credit card information and other sensitive information, thus negatively impact confidentiality, integrity, and privacy of the information system. Such hackers are not protected by Fourth Amendment law because this regulation permits law enforcement officers to seize their mobile devices and then subject them to further investigation, which involves taking a duplicate of the hard disk analyzed by various tools and found represented. The process can be tedious due to differences in hardware and mobile platform security restriction imposed by manufacturers to safeguard the data’s privacy.
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