Workshop: Attacks on GSM Networks

René Pfeiffer/ September 10, 2011/ Conference

The topic of GSM networks has been discussed at past DeepSec conferences right from the very first event in 2007. Recent years saw a significant increase of research in GSM attacks: The weaknesses of A5/1 encryption have been demonstrated and exploited, several GPRS networks in Europe have been shown to be insecure, and an ever-growing number of Open Source projects in the area of GSM and GPRS are gaining significant attraction. Despite the availability of attack methods, the tools are often hard to use for security professionals due to their limited documentation. The published attacks are often difficult to reimplement when assessing the vulnerability of GSM networks.

This is exactly why DeepSec 2011 offers a two-day training on attacking GSM networks. Attendees will spend about half the time re-visiting the key aspects of GSM’s security features and their publicly known weaknesses. During the other half, attention is being paid to the hands-on practical sessions, where attendees will be walked through how to use the various tools for GSM security analysis like OsmocomBB, OpenBSC, airprobe, SIMtrace and others.  All tools will be provided pre-compiled and pre-installed on a USB flash drive with a Linux-based live distribution.

Despite the published weaknesses of the GSM/GPRS technology the security research has barely begun. If you are a GSM network operator or IT security professionals, then you should look into the attack vectors and learn how GSM can be attacked. If you deal with the defence of these networks or the networks subscribers themselves, then the workshop is a good start for your threat assessment. The attacks that will be discussed are not theoretical, they are feasible and can be exploited to be used against you. Knowing about the capabilities of your adversaries is absolutely important since virtually no organisation or business runs without the use of mobile networks. Mobile clients spread beyond the classical realm of cell phones. Cars, alarm equipment, sensors, railway communication and many more implementations show that GSM is here to stay and that its security weaknesses need to be known. Especially the automotive industry should take notice since modern cars are networked computer devices with multiple processors and subsystems. Coupled with network vulnerabilities the potential for security incidents increases.

The GSM training will be held by Harald Welte and Dieter Spaar.

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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.