Cracking GSM phone crypto via distributed computing

    Date26 Aug 2009
    4588
    Posted ByAnthony Pell
    If you are using a GSM phone (AT&T or T-Mobile in the U.S.), you likely have a few more months before it will be easy for practically anyone to spy on your communications. Security researcher Karsten Nohl is launching an open-source, distributed computing project designed to crack the encryption used on GSM phones and compile it into a code book that can be used to decode conversations and any data that gets sent to and from the phone. He hopes that by doing this it will spur cellular providers into improving the security of their services and fix a weakness that has been around for 15 years and affects about 3 billion mobile users.

    "We're not creating a vulnerability but publicizing a flaw that's already being exploited very widely," he said in a phone interview Monday.

    "Clearly we are making the attack more practical and much cheaper, and of course there's a moral question of whether we should do that," he said. "But more importantly, we are informing (people) about a longstanding vulnerability and hopefully preventing more systems from adopting this."

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