Research Reveals Enterprises Leaving Themselves Vulnerable to Cell Phone Call Interception

A survey conducted amongst 250 senior executives in the United States by ABI Research, on behalf of Cellcrypt, reveals that the majority of large and medium businesses are failing to adequately protect themselves against the growing threat of mobile voice call interception; leaving them vulnerable to loss of sensitive and confidential corporate information.

Businesses clearly recognise the threat of cell phone interception: three-quarters of the surveyed corporations have asecurity policy covering cell phone calling and four out of five IT professionals surveyed believe that cell phones are equally or more vulnerable to interception than email.

Yet, the research shows that while mobile phones and email are both used routinely to communicate confidential information - with 79% of organisations that discuss sensitive or confidential information over mobile doing so at least weekly and 51% daily - only 18% have explicit mobile voice call security solutions in place.

Research has shown that data loss can have a major impact on market capitalisation, reducing it by as much as 5-10%[1], as well as resulting in lawsuits for senior executives, severely damaging their reputation.

The growing problem was highlighted in August, when German hackers announced a project to create a code table that cracks the encryption of GSM mobile calls, used in 80% of the world’s cell phone calls. This codebook is planned to be freely available within the next 6 months, and significantly lowers the bar for everyday hackers to crack GSM calls using only a high-end laptop.

One alarming fact emerging from the survey was that 55% of respondents in IT roles thought that their organisation had implemented mobile voice call encryption solutions but on further investigation only 18% had actually done so.

"Effective email security has become routine but our research shows most businesses do not apply anything like the same level of robust security to cell phone calls. Companies that do not respond are exposing themselves to attack," said Stan Schatt Vice President and Practice Director, Healthcare and Security, ABI Research.

"Equally concerning is that a significant number of people who identified themselves as being responsible for cell phone voice call security incorrectly believe the organisations’ mobile calls have been protected when they have not. This perception that they are protected when in reality they are not suggests a serious hole in the information security of many businesses. It is important that companies take urgent steps to review their measures for countering this growing corporate risk area," Schatt continued.

"In light of this summer’s news that a GSM cracking codebook will be made widely and freely available very soon - possibly before the New Year - and sub-$1000 interception equipment being available soon after, this lack of security is particularly worrying," says Simon Bransfield-Garth, CEO of Cellcrypt.

"Businesses must plan now for the eventuality that their mobile voice calls will come under increasing attack within the next 6 months. A ’policy of hope’ towards mobile phone security is not adequate, voice is another data service and should be afforded the same security considerations as email and other corporate communications," continued Bransfield-Garth.

Security of mobile voice calls is not limited to interception of radio waves between a cell phone and a base station mast: interception risks occur at various segments along a call path which may involve multiple network operators in a variety of countries each having a different levels of security measures and risks.

 [December 4, 2009]

Send this IT news to a friend
Recipient :
(enter the e-mail address of the recipient)

(enter your name)

(enter your e-mail address)


Other IT news about ABI Research

  • Sandvine Named Mobile Market Leader by ABI Research (February 3, 2015)
  • Content Owners Buying Encoders to Bypass Traditional Pay TV Distributors, According to ABI Research (April 3, 2013)
  • BYOD and Increased Malware Threats Help Driving Billion Dollar Mobile Security Services Market in 2013, According to ABI Research (April 1, 2013)
  • Despite 25% Annual Decline in 2012 Game Console Shipments, There is Still Room for Optimism, Says ABI Research (March 29, 2013)
  • Connected Automotive Infotainment System Shipments to Exceed 62 Million by 2018 as Feature Set Explodes, According to ABI Research (March 14, 2013)
  • Microsoft Extends Lead to 23% of the IPTV Middleware Market, According to ABI Research (November 7, 2012)
  • TVs and Blu-ray Players will Surpass Game Consoles as Premium Connected Devices in the Home, Says ABI Research (July 25, 2012)
  • Desktop Virtualization Market to Approach $5 Billion in 2016 (July 5, 2011)
  • 19% of All Mobile Phones Shipped in 2Q Were Smartphones (October 29, 2010)
  • Consumers Like Video Content from New Sources but Few Are Ready to “Cut the Pay-TV Cord,” According to Survey (October 8, 2010)
  • 3D TV Shipments to Approach 50 Million in 2015 (October 7, 2010)
  • Mobile Advertisers Forecast to Spend $1.8 Billion on Location-Based Campaigns in 2015 (September 10, 2010)
  • Pay TV Service Revenue Increased 7% in 2Q 2010 to Approach $58 Billion (August 20, 2010)
  • United Kingdom, France, Indonesia Among Cheapest for Mobile Broadband (August 13, 2010)
  • Application Downloads Pick Up Pace after Smartphone Sales Soar, ABI Research Finds (April 6, 2010)
  • Mobile Data Traffic from PC Modems and Routers Will Increase Fourfold by 2014, According to ABI Research (April 1, 2010)
  • Smartphone Market “Reborn” in 4Q 2009, Says ABI Research (March 17, 2010)
  • TeleNav is Top Handset Navigation Software Supplier, Says ABI Research (March 1, 2010)
  • Shopping by Mobile Will Grow to $119 Billion in 2015, According to ABI Research (February 18, 2010)
  • Four Million Media Tablets in 2010 Will Rise to 57 Million in 2015, Says ABI Research (February 4, 2010)
  • Mobile Handset Demand Fuels 336.5 Million Shipments, According to ABI Research (February 2, 2010)
  • IP Telephony Revenue in the Hospitality Industry Will Top $2 Billion in 2014, Says ABI Research (January 26, 2010)
  • 4G Mobile Consumer Service Revenue Will Exceed $70 Billion in 2014, According to ABI Research (January 14, 2010)
  • Mobile Application Downloads to Hit Five Billion in 2014, According to ABI Research (December 21, 2009)
  • Subscriber Data Management Will Generate Revenue of $17 Billion in 2014, Reports ABI Research (December 18, 2009)
  • ABI Research: What’s NOT Going to Happen in Technology Markets in 2010? (December 15, 2009)
  • Research Reveals Enterprises Leaving Themselves Vulnerable to Cell Phone Call Interception (December 9, 2009)
  • Unified Communications Market to Approach $4.2 Billion in 2014, According to ABI Research (November 26, 2009)
  • Global Mobile Voice Service Revenues to Start Declining in 2011, Says ABI Research (November 24, 2009)
  • Qualcomm Takes Lead as 4G Patent Holder, According to ABI Research (November 18, 2009)
  • Mobile Business Customer Growth Fastest in Asia-Pacific, Says ABI Research (October 29, 2009)
  • Wi-Fi Still Rules as Consumer Electronics Network Connections Grow, Says ABI Research (October 15, 2009)
  • ABI Research Launches ABI Forums with Mobile Device Evolution Event (September 30, 2009)
  • Media Phones to Enjoy Strong Growth in the “Fourth Screen” Market, Says ABI Research, Reaching $5 Billion by 2014 (September 28, 2009)
  • Mobile Cloud Computing Subscribers to Total Nearly One Billion by 2014, According to ABI Research (September 9, 2009)
  • In 2014 Monthly Mobile Data Traffic Will Exceed 2008 Total, Says ABI Research (August 6, 2009)
  • Smartphones, iPhone, and Messaging Driving ARPU Gains for AT&T Mobile Business Customers, Says ABI Research (October 8, 2008)
  • ABI Research Sees Home Entertainment as the Beachhead for Home Automation (June 30, 2006)

    Website based on SPIP, an Open Source program under GNU/GPL licence