Satelite phones long a standby of activists, human rights and aid workers stationed in hostile environments including China, Burma, and Cambodia have been regarded as a secure means of communication but two researchers in Germany using basic technology took less than an hour to decrypt the European protocol for satelite phones.
The news is disturbing for those working in sensitive areas and particularly people whom rely on them to get news reports out of areas under heavy censorship or as a last resort in case of abduction or serious physical danger.
In a paper bluntly called “Don’t Trust Satellite Phones,” researchers Benedikt Driessen and Ralf Hund say they reverse-engineered the encryption algorithms used by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute.
Ezine Ars Technica which covers technology issues says the satellite telephones, had until now been considered secure from eavesdropping. They are not, say two researchers who cracked the security used in some sat phone systems.