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June 17, 2011

Business Phone Conversations Latest Target for Eavesdropping: News Report

By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor

Business executives may be the latest group to be targeted by eavesdropping of phone conversations, according to news reports.

Reuters said that business executives who have “sensitive information” could be the new group targeted for eavesdropping. Earlier it was politicians, actors and athletes.

Business executives may talk on cell phones to save time during their busy days, with sensitive information exchanged during the conversations.

“We are seeing a growing tension between organizational security requirements and personal convenience requirements with people often discussing sensitive issues on mobile phones to get their jobs done faster or because they have no other practical choice,” Cellcrypt CEO Richard Greco (News - Alert) told Reuters.

Reuters also notes how UK mobile carriers increased voicemail security after a phone-tapping scandal at News Corp’s News of the World. Football (soccer) player Ryan Giggs is suing the newspaper for tapping into his mobile phone messages, Reuters (News - Alert) said. He plays for Manchester United.

In addition, in recent years technology that lets the curious eavesdrop is more accessible. Phone calls can even be listened to without even placing technology on the phone and it’s easier to use since new technology leaves no traces, Reuters said.

Bjoern Rupp, CEO of GSMK CryptoPhone, told Reuters, “If you have the necessary criminal energy, it wouldn’t be hard to find someone to supply the necessary equipment.”

Vodafone is the only British operator which is introducing GSMA’s patch to make its network more secure, Reuters said.

Orange (News - Alert) and T-Mobile, which merged their networks, have no firm plans to increase their security, Reuters adds.

Eavesdropping on phone conversations is illegal in most countries.

In its analysis, GSMK CryptoPhones said that in the last 20 years, interception of calls has turned into a “major industry.”

“Intelligence agencies and private organizations in all countries routinely intercept calls that may yield sensitive political, military or economic information,” according to the company’s website.

“The use of wiretapping has become so widespread, simple and uncontrolled that you must assume that records of your private calls and SMS end up in the wrong hands. Equipment for wireless interception of mobile phone calls and messages has become available at such low prices that it is deployed frequently even in comparatively small business conflicts.”

Encryption to improve security is difficult.

GSMK CryptoPhones offer full source code available for independent review. GSMK CryptoPhones encrypt calls with AES and Twofish.

In addition, TMCnet reports that Cellcrypt (News - Alert) – a provider of encrypted voice calling on mobile phones has introduced an encrypted voice calling solution, called Cellcrypt Mobile.

In addition, the company introduced a version of its encrypted voice calling app, Cellcrypt Mobile for Android (News - Alert), which runs on Android devices operating over Wi-Fi, GSM and CDMA wireless networks, TMCnet said. 

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Ed Silverstein is a TMCnet contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell
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