DeepSec: Mobile Radio Networks as Targets for Virtual Warfare

René Pfeiffer/ November 20, 2010/ Press

Vienna – The times when a mobile phone was used solely to make calls are long gone, now it’s all about making pictures and surfing the Internet. The groundbreaking success of the iPhone is just one example for the fact that mobile phones have long since outgrown their original use. Youths and adults use them every day  to get information about recent news, the weather or navigation for a future trip with the car. Having the new all-purpose information device by the hand has become a habit. But what happens if criminals or assassins attack the mobile phone network?

Cyber War: Public Life in the Crosshairs

“The GSM radio network is used by more than 200 countries and holds many spectacular flaws which we want to illustrate.”, explains René Pfeiffer, organiser of the international security conference DeepSec, which takes place in Vienna from the 23rd to the 26th of November 2010. “Only few people realise that the mobile phone network is as relevant for personal and public security as for example the electric power network.”

An aimed assault to the GSM network of a country during riots or a revolution can have disastrous effects. Security systems based on mobile phone technology as they are used in financial institutions, public ministries or companies couldn’t function anymore and citizens wouldn’t be able to make emergency calls from the cellphones. During such an attack to the technological infrastructure of a country lives may be at stake. Representatives of security companies and government departments know of the danger of cyber warfare and aim to explore the consequences.
The resulting threat is so real, that on the 4th of November the European Union carried out its most recent cyber-war exercise to test adequate countermeasures.

“Cyber Criminals Read Text Messages!”

Besides manipulation on a grand scale cyber criminals use security breaches of mobile devices like cellphones or tablets to get private data. Frauds and rip-off artists are active  even beyond security problems in the GSM network,  they gain access to personal informations over active data connections and programms (“apps”). Disguised malware is put into the software packages users are downloading on their mobile devices and criminals can attack or steal data. “Sales platforms for the so-called “apps” are not as secure as most people want to believe” says René Pfeiffer und refers to the diverse schedule  of the DeepSec Conference, where critical security breaches of mobile devices like cellphones, tablets and other mobile devices are discussed in-depth.

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About René Pfeiffer

System administrator, lecturer, hacker, security consultant, technical writer and DeepSec organisation team member. Has done some particle physics, too. Prefers encrypted messages for the sake of admiring the mathematical algorithms at work.