It is estimated that, in most developed countries, the volume of mobile telephone traffic now equals the volume in fixed networks. As mobile traffic continues to increase, the use of fixed services is likely to become the exception rather than the rule. Users demand mobility, a single number and unlimited coverage, and handset and network designers are increasingly meeting these needs.
In line with this, Nanoteq is securing mobile telephone traffic with the release of the CodeVoice Mobile handset.
Eavesdropping is still a problem
However, says Nanoteq Communications Security Product Manager Chris Burger, the same security problems that plague fixed networks are also evident in mobile networks. The design target for the GSM system’s cryptography is a good example. While the probability of fraud has been restricted greatly, eavesdropping is still a problem. The design target was simply to ensure that the air interface is no less secure than the rest of the network.
The air inferface is indeed secure, but given the fact that mobile telephone traffic also travels along landline backbones at some point along the route, the total system’s security level is shaky at best.
Several countries have also introduced legislation to enforce the government’s ability to eavesdrop on all kinds of communications, forcing network equipment vendors to incorporate tapping mechanisms on all network nodes.
Clearly, if a user requires confidentiality, security measures must be incorporated in the user’s own equipment, outside of the network operator’s domain.
Nanoteq’s CodeVoice range enables the user to implement secure communications across any mixture of networks. Products for PSTN and ISDN can simply be connected between a telephone instrument and the line, and offer transparent operation and very high security. There are also several facsimile encryption products, including CodeFax and CipherFax 100.
“CodeVoice Mobile is the only product in the range that replaces the user’s handset with a new instrument. The handset has a very similar appearance to most mobile telephones. On the back panel is a standard PC card slot, into which a range of interfaces can be connected. This modular approach allows the handset to be used with any new technologies that might emerge in future, without having to replace the handset itself,” he notes.
A GSM module and a landline modem have already been integrated, and an Inmarsat Mini-M terminal can interface to the handset through its data port. The handset allows the user to send any mixture of voice, data and fax traffic, using a serial communications port on the base of the handset.
The encryption system provides high security, with a key length of more than 100 bits. This key length meets even the most rigorous security requirements.
Burger says CodeVoice Mobile benefits from Nanoteq’s expertise in key management systems. An administrator can issue an individual with any combination of rights. “For example, a senior staff member might have rights to make secure and open calls to anyone, while a junior staffer might be restricted to secure calls to other members of the organisation.
Keys and privileges are stored in smartcards. These cards are protected by PINs, and lock themselves if an outsider attempts to use them. Only an administrator can unlock a locked card,” he explains.
“For customers with very specific needs not served by the standard products, custom features and algorithms can be engineered to specification. For customers with extreme security requirements, arrangements can be made to audit any or all of the design parameters,” he concludes.
For details contact Nanoteq on tel: (012) 665 1338, fax: (012) 665 1343 or e-mail: email@example.com
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