The international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) is a 15-digit unique number related to a global system for mobile communication and universal mobile telecommunication system network for mobile users. An IMSI-catcher is a telephone tapping device which is used for controlling mobile phone traffic and to track location of mobile phone users. A fake mobile tower is generated between the mobile device and the cellular networks which is known as the ‘man in the middle (MITM) attack’. This technology works only on non-LTE network services where mutual authentication is not required between the phone and mobile tower network. In 3G/4G networks, mutual authentication is required from both, the handset and the network. Therefore, it becomes difficult to intercept the network and place the IMSI-catcher between the networks. However, to place an IMSI-catcher in 3G/4G networks, agencies or government firstly downgrade the 3G/4G and LTE to non-LTE network services which do not require mutual authentication. The use of an IMSI-catcher is illegal in most countries and only law enforcement agencies and government can use these, which is expected to increase its demand during the forecast period.

Factors driving growth of the global IMSI catcher market

The rising demand from intelligence and law enforcement agencies is the major factor that is expected to drive the market growth during the forecast period. IMSI-catchers are deployed all over the nation for security. Law enforcement agencies use IMSI-catchers to find out criminal history and for investigation purposes. IMSI-catchers are used to track location via GPS and also to capture all data including cell (phone number, call durations, and caller identities etc.). With the help of an IMSI-catcher, law enforcement agencies can identify mobile traffic on the network and target traffic for interception and analysis. IMSI-catchers are used by governments and intelligence agencies, and strictly regulated in some countries due to privacy concerns related to use of these devices. For instance, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, in 2017, 72 law enforcement agencies in 24 states owned StingRay technology. StingRay is an IMSI-catcher manufactured by Harris Corporation and used by various law and state government agencies to track users’ information across U.S, Canada and U.K.

Moreover, increasing demand from police departments is also expected to drive the growth of the market during the forecast period. Many police departments use IMSI-catchers to keep an eye on suspicious activities. Rising incidence of criminal activities such as kidnapping, theft, terror-attacks is driving demand for IMSI-catchers among police departments. For instance, in March 2016, 30 people were killed in terror attacks at the departure hall of Brussels Zaventem International Airport and the Maelbeek metro station. Istanbul Ataturk Airport's parking as well as the entrance of international arrival terminal was also attacked by terrorists and 41 people were killed.

Regional analysis of global IMSI catcher market

On the basis of region, the market is segmented into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, Middle East, and Africa. Among regions, North America is expected to account for the largest market share during the forecast period due to presence of key players such as L3Harris Technologies, Inc. and Novoquad, Inc.  Most of the law enforcement agencies in various countries are using IMSI-catchers to safeguard nations security. For instance, in 2003, Harris Corporation launched Stingray, an IMSI-catcher, and then sold it to various government agencies in the U.S. Stingray catchers are also called cell site simulators and cell site emulators in some of the law enforcement agencies.

Key players in the global IMSI catcher market

Key players operating in the global IMSI catcher market include Proximus LLC, Comstrac Limited, 4Intelligence, Phantom Technologies LTD, KAVIT Electronics Industries LTD., PKI Electronic Intelligence GmbH., Red Eye International Ltd., Septier Communication Ltd., Helios Technologies and L3Harris Technologies, Inc., and Novoquad, Inc.

Segmentation of the global IMSI catcher market

Global IMSI catcher market is segmented on the basis of type, application, and region.

  • On the basis of type, the global IMSI catcher market is segmented into:
    • Handheld
    • Backpack
    • Vehicular
    • Others
  • On the basis of application, global IMSI catcher market is segmented into:
    • Intelligence Organization
    • Government Structure
    • Others
  • On the basis of region, global IMSI catcher market is segmented into:
    • North America
    • Europe
    • Asia Pacific
    • Latin America
    • Middle East
    • Africa
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