Criminal masterminds beware: Your phone’s radio has a unique fingerprint


Anyone who has ever watched a crime thriller has probably picked up on a key trick to avoiding having your mobile phone conversations overheard: Simply switch out your phone’s SIM card to an anonymous account and then freely plot without a care in the world. If law enforcement doesn’t know the phone number you’re using, they can’t eavesdrop.

But according to a team or researchers at the Technical University of Dresden, that technique may not be so foolproof. The team led by Jakob Hasse has discovered that every phone has a unique radio frequency (RF) fingerprint that law enforcement officials could identify by passively scanning the airwaves, according to a New Scientist report. Just as each human fingertip has a unique set of friction ridges, every phone’s set of RF components — amplifiers, oscillators and signal mixtures — all have minute variations that introduce unique error patterns into their…

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