wiretapping Computer security researchers say that GSM phones (which make up about 80% of the mobile phone market) can be listened in on by anyone with a few thousand dollars worth of hardware and some free open-source tools.

This Sunday at the Chaos Communication Conference in Berlin, Karsten Nohl unveiled his discovery and invention: the “cracking tables”, which is a 2 terabyte code that can be used to determine the encryption key to a secure GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) telephone conversation or text message. Meaning that with this code anyone with enough hardware can intercept a call or text message from a GSM mobile phone.

While Nohl didn’t create a GSM-cracking device (which would be illegal in most countries, including the U.S.) he used the information that had been common knowledge in most academic circles to make it usable. He also says that the flaw that allows calls and texts to be intercepted is the 20-year-old encryption algorithm used by most carriers. It’s a 64-bit cipher called A5/1 and it is simply too weak, according to Nohl. Using his cracking tables, antennas, specialized software, and about $30,000 worth of computing hardware to break the cipher, anyone can crack the GSM encryption in real time and listen in on calls.

The reason that this is only now coming to our attention is that even discussing wiretapping tools can be illegal in the U.S. and most researchers never risked researching the subject. But after hiring lawyers to consult with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Nohl and his collaborators set upon exposing the flaws in the GSM system without –they believe — breaking the law. Even though Nohl didn’t create a device that would be able to intercept the calls, he says that a technically sophisticated hacker could figure it out, and has probably already done so.
“I certainly use my phone differently than before, trying to keep confidential calls on encrypted lines instead” said Karsten Nohl.
To deal with the security threat with the old GSM phones, GSM Association said that they will look into the researcher’s claims and that they have developed a next-generation standard for GSM phones called the A5/3, which is considered to be much more secure then the old A5/1. It is the same type of encryption that is already being used on 3G networks to carry Internet traffic.

(Via ComputerWorld)

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i_love_facebook_heart_t_shirt-p235755814861152274stvj_400Since Facebook released their privacy changes last week, the reception to the new changes has been overwhelmingly positive. This is in high contrast to some of Facebook’s previous changes to the system, like their controversial Beacon feature which broadcasted information about a user’s activities on the web. This feature was very quickly removed and it resulted in a whopping $9.5 million settlement for some lucky Facebook members.

This time around Facebook was much more careful before they went ahead and implemented any radical new changes pertaining to user’s privacy. Facebook started testing out the changes as far back as June, when they announced a limited beta release which involved more than 1 million testers. Additionally, the company even took the extra steps to consult advocacy groups and offered them in-advance briefings through a non disclosure agreement.

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A new program called PhoneSnoop was recently released that lets people listen in on BlackBerry user’s  phone conversation without their knowledge. The way it works is that when a specific number calls you, your BlackBerry will automatically answer it and put it on speaker phone.

Unlike regular viruses and spyware that you get on computers just by surfing a website or opening up an e-mail, this program has to be installed on your phone by someone with physical access to it. So unless you give out your BlackBerry to people to mess with, you should be pretty safe. But if there’s someone in your life that may be concerned about your personal business, you may want to keep your BlackBerry guarded.

But just in case you are still worried about the security of your BlackBerry, a new tool called “Kisses” has been made just for that. It finds any hidden apps that are on your phone and lets you uninstall them.

(Via CNET)

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xray-scanner A Manchester Airport is testing a new X-Ray scanner that allows people to simply walk through a scanner for a few seconds without having to remove their clothes or get patted down. The way this scanner works is that it uses magnets to create a black and white 3D image of a person, allowing security personnel to see right through their clothes to reveal any hidden items. These scanners are also completely safe and “Passengers can go through this machine 5,000 times a year each without worrying. The amount of radiation transmitted is tiny.”

This will make finding weapons and explosives very easy since you can see any kind object the person is carrying. There are some objections to this device since it will show breast enlargements, body piercings, and a clear black-and-white outline of passengers’ genitals. The company claims that the pictures are immediately checked then deleted and will not be stored. For these people that do not want to go through it they can just ask to be patted down and checked the old fashioned way.

The scanners, manufactured by RapiScan Systems, have already been tested in Heathrow Airport from 2004 to 2008 and proven to be very effective. Airports are considering wider use of these scanners in the future and are also slowly being rolled out across major cities like New York and Los Angeles.

(Via BBC)

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The results that stem from Twitter and other social media networking sites include invaluable connections, countless conversations about similar interests, exposure to the public and…crime?

Twitter is one of the fastest growing social media networking websites in the world, recently reaching over 13 million users.  It embodies everything people want: it’s quick, fast, and free. With the efficiency of the site also comes the immediate dangers.  You’d be surprised how much could go wrong with just 140 characters.

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When sports radio personalities Scott Kaplan and Billy Ray Smith from XX1090 San Diego heard about the ESPN Anchor Erin Andrews video scandal, they immediately called upon Todd Morris, CEO & Security Expert of BrickHouse Security to sound off about the controversy.

erin-andrews-photo1“When celebrities show up in a hotel or dressing room or even at a hair salon there is always the risk that someone has been there before and planted a camera and might catch them in something.”

Erin Andrews had to find this out the hard way when an embarrassing peephole video of her surfaced on the Internet.

“Even catching a B list celebrity doing something embarrassing could generate a photo or video worth over $100,000 from one of the tabloids. For these paparazzi, they’re looking for their lottery ticket. They’re looking to generate some controversial content…controversy from a B level celebrity could turn them into an A level sensation.

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finishedserviceMaryland’s acting transportation chief has chosen to scrap an internal proposal to use listening devices on its buses and trains for recording conversations of passengers and employees, citing concerns about privacy as the motivating factor in his decision. After inquiries from the Baltimore Sun Monday about reports of the Maryland Transportation Authority’s top official asking for the opinion of the state’s Attorney General’s office on the legality of this surveillance, acting Secretary Beverly Swaim-Staley ordered the request withdrawn and stated,

“It certainly should have been vetted at the department level and it was not.” “We have not weighed the issues we should weigh before making a decision like this.”

Staley said the question of surveillance was raised legally before it could be discussed thoroughly policy-wise and that she will now spend time deciding whether to move forward with the program. By backing off the proposal, Swaim-Staley may avert a confrontation with the General Assembly. Some legislators have already expressed the thought that the plan would have led to opposition legislation almost immediately. (Via the Baltimore Sun)

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