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  #1  
Old 08-19-2010, 12:58 AM
MrBonsai MrBonsai is offline
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Question Can prepaid phones be traced to exact location?

If I have a prepaid phone that I stole from the store, and I set it up using a wifi connection at the library and put in false info when setting it up, could it still be traced by GPS in the phone?

If I started reporting shootings to 911, could they trace the phone to me?

What if I turn the phone off and take out the battery?

I know there are small batteries inside the phone still, but do they power a small GPS that can be tracked?

What if the phone is on, can it be tracked?
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  #2  
Old 08-19-2010, 01:12 AM
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Default Re: Can prepaid phones be traced to exact location?

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Originally Posted by MrBonsai View Post
Can prepaid phones be traced to exact location?
Yes. We'll get back to this later.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrBonsai View Post
If I have a prepaid phone... it still be traced by GPS in the phone?
Plausibly. Again, we'll get back to this later.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrBonsai View Post
If I started reporting shootings to 911, could they trace the phone to me?
Yes - it would be as simple as finding the phone in your posession.

Otherwise, this is limited to paper records of commerce. You suggest these are... limited.

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Originally Posted by MrBonsai View Post
What if I turn the phone off and take out the battery?
This is good practice anyway, but not good to rely on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrBonsai View Post
I know there are small batteries inside the phone still
Probably.

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Originally Posted by MrBonsai View Post
but do they power a small GPS that can be tracked?
Probably. However, that is insignifigant - your phone can also be approximately triangulated by cell tower, with a court order.

It can also be converted into an audio bug, by court order.

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Originally Posted by MrBonsai View Post
What if the phone is on, can it be tracked?
Definately. It's in active communication with the cell towers, in addition to any "features" which can be utilized by a hostile state.

Shit like this is important when you do not live in a democracy, which is why I know a little too much about it. So, to return to your original question...

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Originally Posted by MrBonsai View Post
Can prepaid phones be traced to exact location?
...not if your magic bag holds up.

There are entire doctrines to EM transmission security protocols under a hostile state. They were adapted, of all things, from artillery fire.

Go for it, kiddo. Get in, burst transmission, gtfo the paramilitary hotspot that just got triangulated.

It's how governments get stomped on.
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  #3  
Old 08-19-2010, 02:36 AM
wolfmobster wolfmobster is offline
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Default Re: Can prepaid phones be traced to exact location?

Why don't FEDS track the suspect's phone like this on 48 Hours?
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Old 08-19-2010, 02:50 AM
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Default Re: Can prepaid phones be traced to exact location?

Yes which is why you dispose of it approx. 15 minutes after.
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Old 08-19-2010, 02:50 AM
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Default Re: Can prepaid phones be traced to exact location?

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Why don't FEDS track the suspect's phone like this on 48 Hours?
Because it's considered a violation of the 4th amendment. It requires a court order; not just any court order, but a federal OGC warrant which involves authorization from the U.S. attorney general. Typically, though, authorization is granted to others to bottomline such requests. Even so, it's not an easy or a quick process and typically involves sustained, long-term surveillance.
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Old 08-19-2010, 03:13 AM
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Default Re: Can prepaid phones be traced to exact location?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrBonsai View Post
If I have a prepaid phone that I stole from the store, and I set it up using a wifi connection at the library and put in false info when setting it up, could it still be traced by GPS in the phone?
Yes. Why would setting up the phone on the internet disable the GPS device in the phone?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrBonsai View Post
If I started reporting shootings to 911, could they trace the phone to me?
Yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrBonsai View Post
What if I turn the phone off and take out the battery?
That will disable triangulation from cell towers and makes it to where the Feds (maybe state cops too?) can't listen in on noise surrounding your phone, and may disable GPS. I'm not sure about the GPS.

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Originally Posted by MrBonsai View Post
I know there are small batteries inside the phone still, but do they power a small GPS that can be tracked?
Dunno.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrBonsai View Post
What if the phone is on, can it be tracked?
Yes. Even if there is no GPS system in it, the phone company providing service can triangulate your position using cell towers AT ALL TIMES (even HISTORICAL cell tower triangulation data is kept, and has been used in murder cases) unless the battery is taken out so it won't be pinging cell towers anymore. The govt would have to get that info from the cell service provider.

If you want better answers, go ask in a phreaker forum.
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Last edited by Puffy; 08-19-2010 at 03:16 AM.
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  #7  
Old 08-19-2010, 03:38 AM
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Default Re: Can prepaid phones be traced to exact location?

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Originally Posted by MoneyMadness View Post
This is very interesting to hear. I will have to look into this as it would be another good trait to have especially if it allows you to not be on a call or have the main power supply.

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http://news.cnet.com/2100-1029_3-6140191.html

http://www.nacdl.org/public.nsf/01c1...9?OpenDocument

http://katzjustice.com/justiceblog/a...sdropping.html

Here's a few of the preliminary articles on the subject. As you can see, it does not require a call to eavesdrop on, nor does it require that the target have their phone powered on.

There's been a lot of speculation as to whether it can be performed with the non-backup primary battery removed. As a rule of thumb, I'd say that when defending against it, it is most reasonable to assume that pulling the battery you can reach is not a guarantee, and that phone with the battery pulled should still be in a faraday cage. When using it as an offensive technique, one must probably know one's individual target phone's capabilities and how much the internal secondary batteries can be relied upon...

I'd imagine that further research into the subject would require finding active discussions of software-hacking common mobile phones. For a risk-assessment profile, however, prior cases and electromagnetic physics pretty much cover it.

Good luck. 'n if you find anything good... let us know.
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Old 08-19-2010, 04:52 AM
BGKO BGKO is offline
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Default Re: Can prepaid phones be traced to exact location?

No, I doubt it. Is the cell a GSM? I think you'd be able to take out the sim card and make the call. It'd be best to remove the cell battery when not in use. The towers won't be able to track you with the main battery out and even if it was still in, it'd make it hard to track
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Old 08-19-2010, 04:59 AM
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Default Re: Can prepaid phones be traced to exact location?

This is not true, there were cases were people would call 911 from a cell phone when they really needed the help. However, they didn't have a chance to tell the cops the location and nobody showed up.
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  #10  
Old 08-19-2010, 10:24 AM
Auschwitz Nazi Disneyland Auschwitz Nazi Disneyland is offline
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Default Re: Can prepaid phones be traced to exact location?

See, I've never read any solid details of how 'the feds can turn your phone into a listening device'. Unless the function is hardcoded into the OS (which I'd doubt as I've gone through OS/FW dumps in the past myself, and been part of several communities), the only other (and likelier) option would be for them to install a hacked FW on there, which would mean they'd have to have physical access to the phone and, well, duh. You don't use your things after the feds have dicked around with them. As best I can tell, it's got little to do with phones being 'insecure'.


Triangulation isn't terribly accurate; it depends on how many towers are nearby.


GPS I suppose it depends on the model - I disconnect power to the GPS chipset from the kernel in my phone, and I'd doubt there's a way to activate it remotely (considering running services/open ports, user privileges etc).
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Old 08-19-2010, 02:37 PM
i<3Shrooms i<3Shrooms is offline
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Default Re: Can prepaid phones be traced to exact location?

Verry interesting. Subscribed.
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Old 08-19-2010, 03:02 PM
A2L5C19F A2L5C19F is offline
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Default Re: Can prepaid phones be traced to exact location?

There is no secondary battery, I have opened up alot of phones and for a mobile to transmit a strong enough signal of at least 0.5 watts it has to have a good mAh and voltage, if there was a battery that small it would last minutes or even seconds. Batteries are easy to identify because they cannot be concealed as an IC or resistor etc. You're being paranoid, taking out the SIM card and battery is good enough. Phone manufacturers don't make phones so the cops can trace them.
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  #13  
Old 08-20-2010, 12:10 AM
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Default Re: Can prepaid phones be traced to exact location?

Nice...
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  #14  
Old 08-20-2010, 01:25 AM
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Ian Huntley Ian Huntley is offline
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Default Re: Can prepaid phones be traced to exact location?

i believe they can be traced. my reasoning is based upon one top escort agency website...the woman are ALWAYS emphasizing that the will not respond to landline numbers, only mobile numbers. the only logical explanation i could come up with is that it is for security purposes(traceing). a maniac could too easily call from a call box(which is a landline number) so that would make him untraceable.

but i dunoo...
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