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Secure Communications

German engineer breaks 21-year-old GSM code

A German computer engineer said that in his attempt to expose weaknesses in the security of global wireless systems, he had successfully deciphered and published the GSM code used to encrypt most of the world’s digital mobile phone calls.

Encryption expert, Karsten Nohl cracked the 21-year-old GSM algorithm, a code developed in 1988 and still used today to protect the privacy of 80 percent of mobile calls worldwide. The GSM algorithm, technically known as the A5/1 privacy algorithm, is a binary code – which is made exclusively of 0’s and 1’s.

“This shows that existing G.S.M. security is inadequate,” Nohl, 28, told about 600 people attending the Chaos Communication Congress, a four-day conference of computer hackers that runs through Wednesday in Berlin.

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December 29, 2009 - Posted by | cellular phone, EMEA, encryption, illegal, mobile, phone tap, privacy, security, spy, technology, USA

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