Julian Oliver has for years harbored a strange obsession with spotting poorly disguised cellphone towers, those massive roadside antennae draped in fake palm fronds to impersonate a tree, or even hidden as spoofed lamp posts and flag poles. The incognito base stations gave him another, more mischievous idea. What about a far better-disguised cell tower that could sit anonymously in office, invisibly hijacking cellphone conversations and texts?
Earlier this week, the Berlin-based hacker-artist unveiled the result: An entirely boring-looking Hewlett Packard printer that also secretly functions as a rogue GSM cell base station, tricking your phone into connecting to it rather than your phone carrier’s tower, effectively intercepting your calls and text messages.
“For quite some time I’ve had an interest in this bizarre uncanny design practice of disguising cell towers as other things like trees,” says Oliver. “So I decided to build one into a printer, the most ubiquitous of indoor flora, and have it actually antagonize people’s implicit trust in these technologies.”