Calls via the LTE mobile network, also known as 4G, are encrypted and should therefore be tap-proof. However, researchers from the Horst Görtz Institute for IT Security (HGI) at Ruhr-Universität Bochum have shown that this is not always the case. They were able to decrypt the contents of telephone calls if they were in the same radio cell as their target, whose mobile phone they then called immediately following the call they wanted to intercept. They exploit a flaw that some manufacturers had made in implementing the base stations.
The results were published by the HGI team David Rupprecht, Dr. Katharina Kohls, and Professor Thorsten Holz from the Chair of Systems Security together with Professor Christina Pöpper from the New York University Abu Dhabi at the 29th Usenix Security Symposium, which takes place as an online conference from 12 to 14 August 2020. The relevant providers and manufacturers were contacted prior to the publication; by now the vulnerability should be fixed.