Surprise! You Are Hacked.
Billions could have their mobile phone calls intercepted and recorded after computer hackers cracked the secret code used to protect 80 per cent of the world’s users.
The code was posted on the internet by German scientist Karsten Nohl, who said he organised the breach to demonstrate the weakness of mobiles’ security measures.
He claims an eavesdropper could be listening to calls within 15 minutes with just a laptop and two network cards.
There are now fears that half the world’s population could be left vulnerable to crime including identity fraud…
Nohl said: ‘We have given up hope that network operators will move to improve security on their own, but we are hoping that with this added attention, there will be increased demand from customers for them to do this.
‘This vulnerability should have been fixed 15 years ago. People should now try it out at home and see how vulnerable their calls are.’
The code, called A5/1, was devised by the GSM Association 22 years ago and is used by more than three billion people in 212 countries.
It prevents calls being intercepted by forcing mobile phones and base stations to rapidly change frequencies. 3G phones are not affected as they are protected by a different code.
Nohl and a team of experts took five months to unravel the complicated mathematical sequence – known as an algorithm – used to encrypt calls.
Last night the GSM Association played down the risks to customers.
Security director James Moran said: ‘We are concerned but we don’t believe it will result in widespread eavesdropping tomorrow, or next week or next month.
‘The reality is that a practical attack is beyond the capabilities of the vast majority of people.’
But if he is wrong, mobile operators could be forced into expensive upgrades to base stations.