Karsten Nohl, a German computer engineer has cracked the GSM encryption and published the “secret” code used by 3.5 billion of the 4.3 billion wireless connections across the world. The code was developed in 1988 and is used to encrypt 80% of worldwide mobile calls. It’s now publicly available via BitTorrent, leaving GSM calls vulnerable to eavesdropping. G.S.M. algorithm, technically known as the A5/1 privacy algorithm, is a binary code — which’s made exclusively of 0’s and 1’s — that has kept digital phone conversations private since G.S.M. standard was adopted in 1988. It’s important to note that the A5/1 algorithm that was cracked is older, and less secure, 64-bit version. A newer, 128-bit A5/3 algorithm, which has been available since 2007, is still un-touched. Unfortunately, GSM carriers have not adopted latest standard. Nohl feels that by releasing code, it’ll force GSM carriers to finally adopt newer, more secure, 128-bit encryption. “We’re not recommending people use this information to break the law. What we’re doing is trying to goad the world’s wireless operators to use better security,” New York Times reports.
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