Code Set Up to Shield Privacy Of Cellular Calls Is Breached

  • John Markoff
  • The New York Times
  • March 19, 1997


A team of well-known computer security experts will announce on Thursday that they have cracked a key part of the electronic code meant to protect the privacy of calls made with the new, digital generation of cellular telephones.

These technologists, who planned to release their findings in a news
release on Thursday, argue that the best way to insure that the strongest
security codes are developed is to conduct the work in a public forum. And
so they are sharply critical of the current industry standard setting
process, which has made a trade secret of the underlying mathematical
formulas used to create the security codes.

"Our work shows clearly why you don’t do this behind closed doors,"
Schneier said. "I’m angry at the cell phone industry because when they
changed to the new technology, they had a chance to protect privacy and
they failed."

Carroll, head of the industry’s privacy committee, said it planned to
revise the process for reviewing proposed technical standards.

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.