SRA provides BlackBerry voice encryption

Government employees will now be able to have secure conversations using their BlackBerrys. Technology from SRA International and KoolSpan enables voice encryption so that users can place and receive secure voice calls at the controlled unclassified information level. The technology is validated at the FIPS 140-2 Level 1.

“Despite a high, widespread operational need for secure mobile voice communication by government agencies and commercial entities, adoption of secure phones has been impeded because they are expensive, difficult to use, cumbersome to handle, easily recognizable and require isolated networks,” said Pat Burke, senior vice president of SRA Offerings and Products. Half of the mobile calls government officials make include sensitive or confidential information, according to ABI Research.

SRA One Vault Voice combines SRA International’s software with KoolSpan’s TrustChip, a hardened encryption module. Callers can use cellular or Wi-Fi based communications.

Late last year German computer engineer Karsten Nohl announced he had cracked the global system for mobile communication encryption, a 21-year-old, 64-bit algorithm, by brute force. The cracked code can be downloaded from the Internet and its location has spread by word of mouth, said Nohl in a New York Times article. GSM is the most widely used wireless-communications standard in the world.

“Organizations must now take this threat seriously and assume that within six months their organizations will be at risk unless they have adequate measures in place to secure their mobile phone calls,” said Stan Schatt, a vice president for health care and security at the technology market researcher ABI Research in New York, in the same article.

While the GSM Association developed a 128-bit algorithm in 2007, most network operators have not yet adopted it. However, even that is not secure – last month Computerworld wrote that three cryptographers broke the code in under two hours using a dual-core, Intel-based Dell Latitude PC running Linux.

The three researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, described a technique they developed called a "sandwich attack" to crack the code used on 3G wireless networks.


About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

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