All Cellphone Encryption Cracked, GSM at Risk

Should we even be shocked at this point? According to reports from the Washington Post, documents released by our favorite jet-setting patriot claim the NSA and its counterpart across the pond the GCHQ have cracked the A5/1 encryption code responsible for keeping your conversations on carriers such as AT&T and T-Mobile safe from the threat of intrusion. Law enforcement and the military have long held the capacity to crack into the phones of individuals they deemed a threat to national security, however the NSA takes this concept and cranks the dial up to 11. By forming a dragnet that encapsulates every cell tower both within its borders and a few outside of them, the agency is able to analyze and store vast quantities of conversations had by innocent Americans and anyone they may be talking to abroad.

For years experts on encryption have spoken out on the inherent weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the current encryption standard, begging providers to seek out new and improved methods of keeping their customers call data safe.

The encryption technology “was designed 30 years ago, and you wouldn’t expect a 30-year-old car to have the latest safety mechanisms,” said David Wagner, a computer scientist at the University of California at Berkeley.

However, according to German cryptographer Karsten Nohl, there is still hope to be had yet. A new encryption method, entitled A5/3, requires up to 100,000 times the computing power to crack than the A5/1 standard. Encrypting entire networks is no simple feat though, and even if we could convince Congress to make it the new standard for communications in the country, it would take years of work to implement worldwide. Check out our Android tutorial to find out how to prevent the data of your cellphone calls from falling into the wrong hands.