This is nothing new, you could do this before w/ any old CDMA/GSM phone w/ a Qualcomm chipset and getting QPST/QXDM what's cool is using non-qualcomm tools for it! :)
You'd be surprised by putting your phone in listening mode and changing around a few numbers can get you. the SMS paging channel is really cool, and you can turn your phone into a sort of Stringray from Harris Corporation.
More so, alot of this stuff is from the Phreaking Scene, which is, not dead, but very much different then its Mitnick heyday w/ the Oki900 and late 00's with ESN/MEID fun.
Most of the phreaking scene nowadays involves "rom" hacking vs the actual modem of the phone, or unlocking, or probing into the cell phones firmware to grab the 16 byte key that'd unlock the modem for you to play with and do everything from modify the bluetooth serial address, increase tx power, or more.
> Most of the phreaking scene nowadays involves...
That sounds like it's mostly just client-side attacks to get client-side effects (essentially, bypassing the DRM of the baseband.) Is there any modern phreaking that involves tower/node-side attacks, with the goal of achieving the same sorts of effects as classical phreaking (e.g. "free cell data")?
I'm wondering if there anything I should be looking for in traffic, like, could the carrier be querying my phone for anything that it not strictly any of their business? Then again, they already get a lot of interesting data through my browsing patterns, tower connection data (=location)...
The carrier wouldn't need too - your phone is already reporting to them everything and they can contain and go through information as needed. All routing is on their side. Your cell phone is an end client device that relies on a serial number/IMSI to access network resources tied to your identity on their network.
What you should be more concerned about, with this toolset is anyone can fetch the data around them using an off the shelf phone, and within proximity of ONE tower or whatever passes your cell phone. (Bigger antenna, bigger gain = biggr net.)
Now, what's curious is if you research GSM, SMS paging channel or else - alot of this stuff is cleartext, but you'd need something good to parse the information and isolate it per phone. This was w/ QCAT.
Back in the day of CDMA2000/3G, you could see whom the tower was trying to reach, what nearest handset was communicating with the tower and to/from (numbers) of text messages.
What's fun is determining what these numbers belonged too.
The discourse on mobile traffic is all very interesting, but for a blogpost introducing new tool for capturing that traffic, I would have been more interested in hearing more about the diagnostic protocol you are using and its capabilities.