Modern LTE networks are more vulnerable to radio jamming attacks than traditional GSM and CDMA networks, according to researchers from Virginia Tech. The university says that anyone with a $650 radio jammer and a little know-how could temporarily disable an LTE network for miles around. The vulnerability stems from the fact that LTE "depends on control instructions that make up less than one percent of the overall signal." As the frequencies that this control set operates on are publicly available, it wouldn't be hard for someone with malicious intent to set about disabling a network.
Jeff Reed, director of wireless research at Virginia Tech, says that if a hacker were to add an "inexpensive power amplifier" to the radio jammer they could potentially take down an LTE network in a large region, rather than a single base station. The researchers point out that, while networks currently have an underlying 3G network to fall back on, the long-term plan is for networks to be LTE-only. If there's no way for the current vulnerability to be fixed, the implications are obviously dire. The team has already disclosed the research paper to the relevant authorities, which we assume are looking into the vulnerabilities.