Monday, February 13, 2012

"Can cell and satellite phones really be intercepted and decrypted?"

I often get this question. The quick answer is, yes. But it is hard to fathom without seeing some proof.
There are dozens of companies selling equipment to do this. Their customers are mainly governments. The products are pricy. ABILITY is one supplier...

"ABILITY was founded in 1993 by a team of experts in military intelligence and communications who were joined by specialists in electronics and mathematics. Their goal was simple but extraordinarily complex – to devise state of the art interception and decryption solutions that would serve the needs and ever-increasing challenges of security and intelligence agencies, military forces, police and homeland security services around the world.

The ability to deliver both interception and decryption. 

Our uniqueness is in our complete capabilities in both interception of communications as well as their clear decryption. ABILITY has nearly two decades of proven ability in the service of leading security agencies, law enforcement and armed forces around the globe!

We specialize in
off-air interception of cellular and satellite communication networks and deciphering solutions for cellular and satellite communications." 

Price drop. "Researchers at Ruhr University Bochum, in Germany, think they have managed to crack two popular encryption protocols, known as A5-GMR-1 and A5-GMR-2. These are commonly used in the Thuraya satellite phones used across swathes of Africa, the Middle East and North Asia. (Thuraya has yet to respond to the revelations.) The researchers hope that their paper, published on their website, will help interested parties fix the flaw. More importantly, perhaps, it might prompt phone-makers to act. "We can assume that this has probably been known about since the beginning of this century," says Benedikt Driessen, one of the authors of the new paper. He and his colleagues say that it takes about $2,000 worth of gear and half an hour to decipher a satellite phone call." (more)