How can smartphone owner location be determined by SMS?

June 19, 2023  18:05

The location of the owner of a smartphone can be accurately determined through SMS. Security experts at Northeastern and New York Universities have explained this technique in a new study.

According to them, based on the analysis of delays in the delivery of SMS messages, it is possible to determine where the recipient of those messages is located.

Specialists trained a machine learning model that helped the SMS sender determine the recipient's location. Although this method does not give an absolutely accurate result, with its help, it is possible to determine with 96% accuracy the region where the recipient is located within different countries.

The researchers tried to locate the subscriber in Belgium, and the system was able to determine with up to 86% accuracy the area in which this person was located.

This system is based on the "silent" SMS technology. When such a message is sent, the subscriber does not receive a notification, while the sending party can track the recipient's location. Researchers have managed to use such an app that sends SMS messages for this purpose.

As mentioned, the location information is calculated from the SMS delivery delay time. The period is determined from the moment the operator sends service notifications about sending the message to the moment the SMS is delivered. Based on machine learning, the system developed by researchers analyzes these data and draws conclusions.

The system was tested in the US, UAE, and seven European countries where there were ten operators with NSA LTE, LTE+ and 5G networks. Interestingly, the accuracy of the location of the recipient of the SMS was the highest in Belgium. Accuracy reached 79% in Greece, 76% in the UAE, and 68% in Germany.

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