Browse Definitions:

SS7 attack

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

An SS7 attack is an exploit that takes advantage of a weakness in the design of SS7 (Signalling System 7) to enable data theft, eavesdropping, text interception and location tracking.

While the SS7 network is fundamental to cellphones and its operators, the security of the design relied entirely on trust. The SS7 network operators counted on one another to play by the rules. Now, with operators opening the SS7 network to offer third-party access as a commercial offering, vulnerabilities are being exposed and attacked. Service provider cooperation with government agencies enabled state surveillance; the newly opened network and greater exposure enables access by agencies in other nations and individual hackers.

In 2014, security researchers in Germany demonstrated that attackers could exploit security holes in SS7 to track cell phone users' movements and communications and eavesdrop on conversations. The attack in question is essentially a man-in-the-middle attack on cell phone communications that, among other things, exploits the lack of authentication in the communication protocols that run on top of SS7.

Although the design element presents an exploitable vulnerability, it is integral to the system rather than a defect. The exposure of the SS7 vulnerabilities has demonstrated how easy it is for network operators, government and, due to the presence of exploit tools available on the Internet, even citizens to track and exploit smartphones. Used directly on a phone, SS7 attacks can surreptitiously enable location tracking, fraud, denial of service or call interception, even on GSM networks.

Interception SS7 attacks enable many potential exploits through the many services tied to smartphones as a supposed security-enhancing device. Examples include Facebook account hacking with just the phone number and tracking individuals within 50 meters with commercially available SS7: Locate. Track. Manipulate software. As well, with many bank accounts secured by multi-factor authentication that depends on smartphones, the security of everything smartphone-related might well need reassessment.

This was last updated in July 2016

Continue Reading About SS7 attack

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.


File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:


  • risk map (risk heat map)

    A risk map, also known as a risk heat map, is a data visualization tool for communicating specific risks an organization faces.

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...


  • federated identity management (FIM)

    Federated identity management (FIM) is an arrangement that can be made among multiple enterprises to let subscribers use the same...

  • cross-site scripting (XSS)

    Cross-site scripting (XSS) is a type of injection security attack in which an attacker injects data, such as a malicious script, ...

  • firewall

    In computing, a firewall is software or firmware that enforces a set of rules about what data packets will be allowed to enter or...



  • business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

    Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...


  • volume manager

    A volume manager is software within an operating system (OS) that controls capacity allocation for storage arrays.

  • external storage device

    An external storage device, also referred to as auxiliary storage and secondary storage, is a device that contains all the ...

  • NetApp SolidFire

    NetApp SolidFire is a business division of NetApp Inc. that specializes in all-flash storage systems.


  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.