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Hackers can track your every call and movement, using just your phone number

Forget complicated hacking tricks -- spying on someone's calls and texts and tracking their movements is as simple as knowing their phone number.

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Claire Reilly
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Claire Reilly Principal Video Producer

Claire Reilly is a video host, journalist and producer covering all things space, futurism, science and culture. Whether she's covering breaking news, explaining complex science topics or exploring the weirder sides of tech culture, Claire gets to the heart of why technology matters to everyone. She's a regular commentator on broadcast news and in her spare time, she's a cabaret enthusiast, Simpsons aficionado and closet country music lover. She originally hails from Sydney but now calls San Francisco home.

Expertise Space, Futurism, Science and Sci-Tech, Robotics, Tech Culture Credentials Webby Award Winner (Best Video Host, 2021), Webby Nominee (Podcasts, 2021), Gold Telly (Documentary Series, 2021), Silver Telly (Video Writing, 2021), W3 Award (Best Host, 2020), Australian IT Journalism Awards (Best Journalist, Best News Journalist 2017)
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"60 Minutes" has demonstrated how hackers can use a simple phone number to spy on calls.

"60 Minutes"/CBS News

Security experts say breaking into a smartphone is easier than you think -- and they've spied on a US Congressman's phone calls to prove it.

German computer engineer Karsten Nohl told "60 Minutes" in America that all a hacker needs is a phone number.

From there, Nohl says hackers can "track [the owner's] whereabouts, know where they go for work...spy on whom they call and what they say over the phone. And you can read their texts."

Just by knowing the number of an off-the-shelf iPhone and exploiting a known network flaw, Nohl was able to spy on Representative Ted Lieu of California (who agreed to participate in the demo) -- they then recorded his calls with "60 Minutes" and tracked his movements.

"Any choices that a congressman could've made, choosing a phone, choosing a pin number, installing or not installing certain apps, have no influence over what we are showing because this is targeting the mobile network."

Disclaimer: "60 Minutes" is owned by CBS, which owns CNET.