New attack can now decrypt satellite phone calls in “real time” | ZDNet

chinese researchers have discovered a manner to quickly decrypt satellite earphone communications — within a fraction of a second in some cases. The paper, published this week, expands on former inquiry by german academics in 2012 by quickly speeding up the attack and express that the encoding used in popular Inmarsat satellite phones can be cracked in “ real time. ” Satellite phones are used by those in abandon environments, including high altitudes and at ocean, where traditional cell service is n’t available. Modern satellite phones code voice dealings to prevent listen in. It ‘s that modern GMR-2 algorithm that was the focus of the research, given that it ‘s used in most satellite phones today.

The researchers tried “ to reverse the encoding operation to deduce the encryption-key from the output keystream immediately, ” rather than using the german researchers ‘ method of recovering an encoding key using a known-plaintext fire. Using their proposed inversion attack thousands of clock on a 3.3GHz satellite stream, the researchers were able to reduce the search space for the 64-bit encoding key, efficaciously making the decoding key easier to find. The end resultant role was that encrypted data could be cracked in a fraction of a second. “ This again demonstrates that there exists serious security flaws in the GMR-2 zero, and it is crucial for service providers to upgrade the cryptanalytic modules of the system in order to provide confidential communication, ” said the researchers. An Inmarsat spokesperson said Thursday that the company “ immediately took action to address the potential security return and this was in full addressed ” in 2012. “ We are wholly confident that the issue … has been completely resolved and that our satellite phones are impregnable, ” the spokesperson said.

Matthew Green, a cryptanalysis teacher at Johns Hopkins University, blogged about the german read-collision based technique in 2012. “ Satellite telephone security matters, ” he said at the time. “ In many underdevelop rural areas, it ‘s the basal means of communicating with the outside world. Satphone coverage is besides significant in war zones, where sign privacy is of more than academic interest, ” he added. “ They seem to have optimized the 2012 attack so that it ‘s much faster and requires only about a twelve bytes of ‘known plaintext ‘, ” he said, referring to the encoding of a clear message. Green said that the attack was “ fast enough to allow winder recovery ( and decoding ) in real time if one could get the known plaintext. ” “ From a scientific position it ‘s a boastful advance, ” Green said, but he noted that “ from a hardheaded position it ‘s ill-defined. ” “ therefore possibly do n’t trust satellite call encoding, ” he said. “ But I would have said the same thing in 2012. ”

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