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Unformatted text preview: ompany can easily eavesdrop on your conversations. A lot of strange politics surrounds this one. Originally it was thought that GSM’s cryptography would prohibit export of the phones to some countries. Now some officials are discussing whether A5 might harm export sales, implying that it is so weak as to be an embarrassment. Rumor has it that the various NATO intelligence agencies had a catfight in the mid-1980s over whether GSM encryption should be strong or weak. The Germans wanted strong cryptography, as they were sitting near the Soviet Union. The other countries overruled them, and A5 is a French design. We know most of the details. A British telephone company gave all the documentation to Bradford University without remembering to get them to sign a nondisclosure agreement. It leaked here and there, and was eventually posted to the Internet. A paper describing A5 is ; there is also code at the back of this book. A5 consists of three LFSRs; the register lengths are 19, 22, and 23; all the feedback polynomials are sparse. The output is the XOR of the three LFSRs. A5 uses variable clock control. Each register is clocked based on its own middle bit, XORed with the inverse threshold function of the middle bits of all three registers. Usually, two of the LFSRs clock in each round. There is a trivial attack requiring 240 encryptions: Guess the contents of the first two LFSRs, then try to determine the third LFSR from the keystream. (Whether this attack is actually feasible is under debate, but a hardware key search machine currently under design should resolve the matter soon .) Nonetheless, it is becoming clear that the basic ideas behind A5 are good. It is very efficient. It passes all known statistical tests; its only known weakness is that its registers are short enough to make exhaustive search feasible. Variants of A5 with longer shift registers and denser feedback polynomials should be secure. 16.6 Hughes XPD/KPD
This algorithm is brought to you by Hughes Aircraft Corp. They put it in army tactical ra...
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- Fall '10