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Print 36 comment(s) - last by OrSin.. on Mar 13 at 1:26 PM

Can you hear me now? Uh oh.

Eavesdropping on cell phone conversations has long been considered the domain of law enforcement and actors in spy movies. Security researchers at the 2008 Black Hat conference in Washington, D.C. have unveiled a new, faster method for eavesdropping that could be built for as little as $1,000.

Most GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) networks use the 64-bit A5/1 encryption, which has been cracked in theory for approximately ten years. The major breakthroughs made by the security researchers David Hulton and "Steve" (who declined to give reporters his last name), however, is in the cost and speed of the cracking attempts.

According to the security analysts, a $1,000 GSM-snooping station would be able to crack the encryption in 30 minutes, and $100,000 worth of equipment would achieve similar results in 30 seconds. The basis for the technology is the use of field-programmable gate arrays to pre-compute all of the possible keys – more than 288 quadrillion -- over a period of three months, and then use this massive amount of data to decrypt GSM communications on the fly.

The vulnerability of the GSM SIM cards was also raised by Mr. Hulton and "Steve" -- the SIM ID number is broadcast in cleartext, which could reveal the make and model of handset being used. In conjunction with the ability to break encryption, this could be used to push an "operator-specified" application onto the card, or use triangulation to determine the location of the handset relative to connected towers.

Cell phone users should not begin speaking in code just yet, however, as the technology is still in development and has yet to be shown beyond a proof-of-concept. GSM Association spokesman David Pringle also stated that more advanced encryption is being deployed, and that some current GSM data networks already use a superior encryption method.



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RE: Nothing to worry!
By murphyslabrat on 2/22/2008 12:30:58 PM , Rating: 2
However, when they pay that thousand dollars, plus $3,500 for a work-van, and that $4,500 gets you a lot of information, including what you are saying. So, is your cell-phone conversation worth 30-minutes?


RE: Nothing to worry!
By Trisagion on 2/22/2008 12:39:31 PM , Rating: 5
Hell, give me the $4500 and I'll gladly give you a conference call with the interested party for as much time as you want :)


RE: Nothing to worry!
By zerocool84 on 2/22/2008 1:18:28 PM , Rating: 3
Hey Paulie is he sleepin with da fishes? Na man we can't talk, they can hear everything we say with just $1,000.


RE: Nothing to worry!
By FITCamaro on 2/22/2008 2:39:30 PM , Rating: 2
My cell phone conversations rarely last 1 minute much less 30.


RE: Nothing to worry!
By surt on 2/22/2008 3:10:59 PM , Rating: 2
They can record your conversation, and decrypt it later.


RE: Nothing to worry!
By FITCamaro on 2/22/2008 6:29:07 PM , Rating: 2
Crap they're gonna hear me dirty talking to my girlfriend!


RE: Nothing to worry!
By Samus on 2/23/2008 8:17:49 AM , Rating: 2
CDMA ftw!


RE: Nothing to worry!
By murphyslabrat on 2/27/2008 10:23:32 PM , Rating: 2
Even worse, they're gonna hear me dirty-talking to your girlfriend.


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