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January 3, 2011

Security experts demonstrate mobile phone eavesdropping

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by Darren Allan

A pair of security researchers, Karsten Nohl and Sylvain Munaut, have shown off a toolkit which can be used to eavesdrop on mobile voice calls at the Chaos Computer Club Congress over in Germany.

The BBC reports that the toolkit took a year to put together, and showed that it allowed them to take a given telephone number and listen to and record calls from the handset.

Apparently a key ingredient to the system is budget Motorola phones with their software swapped for an open source alternative, with all filters removed so it can view the data being broadcast by a base station. The relevant call data can then be isolated, and the GSM encryption cracked.

Nohl told the BBC: “Any GSM call is fair game.”

This is obviously a worrying prospect for businesses, who might have sensitive details hacked into via voice calls between staff.

Most mobile networks still use the GSMA’s two-decade-old encryption standard, and although a more modern and secure algorithm has been made available in the last few years, adoption hasn’t been forthcoming for the majority.

Maybe that’s set to change as security concerns such as these are highlighted with more prominence.

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1 Comment »
  1. I’m suprised they’ve not talked about the PS3, which is supposed to be the oh-so-secure next gen gaming platform. There should be bideos available from youtube, just look up Console Hacking 2010.

    There are also some other interesting talks there which I think you should watch. Gives a bigger insight into what the hacker world is really about.

    Comment by Moshalas — January 3, 2011 @ 12:21 pm

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