German Computer Scientist Crack Mobile Safety Code
December 30, 2009
Karsten Nohl and a group of experts have been working long and hard the last several months to expose the flaws of current security systems that are meant to protect owners of cell phone from having their calls listened to by outside sources.
The problem starts with an algorithm called GSM, which has been used for more than 20 years to secure phone calls.
Nohl wanted to show that it was not sufficient to keep people out. He was able to painstakingly sort out the code used to get past it.
He and his group used computers to go through all possible key combinations, and after five months were able to come up with an answer.
“It’s like a telephone book – if someone tells you a name you can look up their number,” he explained, also stating that all it would take to get the secret key is a “beefy gaming computer and $3,000 worth of radio equipment”.
To get it more quickly, all it would need is $30,000 of equipment, something that many in the criminal world would easily be able to obtain for the task.
“It lowers the bar for people and organisations to crack GSM calls. It inadvertently puts these tools and techniques in the hands of criminals.”
This is one of many flaws exposed with GSM.