Daily Yomiuri - March 25, 1997

Digital Phone Codes Cracked

By Edward A. Mazza II

excerpt

Bruce Schneier of Counterpane Systems, a Minneapolis, Minn., consulting firm specializing in cryptography and a member of the group, said cellular phones have three security mechanisms in place.

"The first protects voice privacy. This is so unbelievably lousy that it's not worth talking about."

The authentication algorithm that prevents phone cloning, he said, is the second. The third is an encryption algorithm protecting messages between phones and systems such as dialed digits, credit card numbers, passwords and account numbers.

The cryptographers broke the third system, Schneier said.

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Photo of Bruce Schneier by Per Ervland.

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