Information Warfare: March 31, 2002

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The military has been very excited about the wireless Internet technology that has been growing in popularity over the last few years. The military, especially the Army, is really eager to get a full blown Internet onto the battlefield. The army is in the process of buying and putting into service a wireless Internet system that sends and receives encrypted information. To do that, there has to be a robust, reliable wireless Internet technology available. It turns out that this wireless stuff (as used in hand held email devices like the Blackberry) are reliable and robust. They are also easy to eavesdrop on, using easily obtained (from most electronics stores) equipment. OK, no problem, the military can add encryption to their battlefield version of this. For several years, thousands of Department of Defense employees have been issued Blackberrys in order to keep these key people in touch with their work. Oops. Moreover, the Blackberrys have been very popular with people in finance, banking and technical professions. There's been no indication that any espionage effort has been made using this vulnerability. But no one knows if the bad guys figured out how to listen in on these wireless communications first. If they did, they would not want that sort of thing publicly known.

 


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