• Android 15 will warn you when you’re connected to an insecure network or when one tries to record your device’s ID, such as when connected to a “stingray” device.
  • A stingray is a malicious electronic device that mimics a cellular network so it can trick your phone into connecting to it.
  • Stingrays collect your device’s unique identifier and try to intercept your text messages and phone calls.

When you use your smartphone to send a text message or make a phone call, you have to trust that your carrier isn’t snooping on your communications. But what if the cellular network your phone is connected to doesn’t actually belong to your carrier but instead a malicious third party? That’s what devices called “stingrays” take advantage of. A stingray mimics a cellular network, so it can trick your mobile device into connecting to it, allowing it to collect your device’s unique ID for tracking purposes or to switch your device to an insecure connection to intercept texts and calls. To protect users from these kinds of attacks, Google is adding new security features in Android 15 that will warn you when a cellular network collects your device’s unique ID or is using an insecure connection.

Like a real cell tower, stingrays collect your device’s International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) and International Mobile Station Equipment Identity (IMEI), two unique identifiers that respectively identify your device’s SIM and the device itself. Using the IMSI or IMEI, the operators of a stingray can identify and target your particular device for analysis. They can also try to force your device to connect to it using an older or unencrypted protocol, making it trivial for them to intercept your communications.