Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cellphone Encryption Code Is Divulged

By Kevin J. O’Brien

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

The action by the encryption expert, Karsten Nohl, aimed to question the effectiveness of the 21-year-old G.S.M. algorithm, a code developed in 1988 and still used to protect the privacy of 80 percent of mobile calls worldwide. (The abbreviation stands for global system for mobile communication.)

For further reading:
"Encryption gets a Battering", Nigel Stanley, Bloor Research, January 18, 2010
"Experts Break Mobile Phone Security", MIT Technology Review, December 29, 2009
"Mobile phone security codes cracked", The Telegraph, December 29, 2009
"Secret code protecting cellphone calls set loose", The Register, December 28, 2009

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