Researchers in Germany claim to have for the first time cracked two encryption systems of satellite phones, a breakthrough in call deciphering which may threaten the security of such devices worldwide.
A team at Ruhr University Bochum in Germany says that the cracked encryption algorithms, known as GMR-1 and GMR-2, are actually standards used across satellite phone operators globally.
“We were able to completely reverse engineer the encryption algorithms employed,” ‘The Daily Telegraph’ quoted Benedikt Driessen and Ralf Hund of the university as saying.
According to Driessen, the equipment and software needed to intercept and decrypt satellite phone calls from hundreds of thousands of users would cost as little as US dollars 2000.
The demonstration system takes up to half-an-hour to decipher a call, but a more powerful computer would allow eavesdropping in real time, he said.
By publishing details of how to break the encryption, the researchers hope to prompt ETSI, the organisation that sets the standards, to create stronger algorithms.