Associated Press - March 21, 1997

Cellular Can Be Cracked

By Richard Cole

excerpt

The cellular phone industry claimed the impact on users would be "virtually none," since engineers were working to strengthen the encryption and since a separate code that scrambles voices was not broken.

...

But Bruce Schneier, one of the high-tech code breakers, called the implications serious for the new generation of digital phones.

He said they were able to break the code that protects transmissions between the cell phone and the central system - including dialed phone digits, credit card numbers, passwords and account numbers.

"We're talking about a few minutes on a computer - a high-end Pentium, not a work station, one you might have on your desk," he said.

He also said the code that protects voices was broken years ago.

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Photo of Bruce Schneier by Per Ervland.

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