Eavesdropping on Satellite Telecommunication Systems

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Executive Summary

While communication infrastructures rapidly intertwine with the people daily lives, public understanding of underlying technologies and privacy implications is often limited by their closed-source nature. Lacking the funding and resources of corporations and the intelligence community, developing and expanding this understanding are a sometimes tedious, but nonetheless important process. In this sense, the authors document how they have decrypted their own communication in the Thuraya satellite network. They have used open-source software to build on recent work which reverse-engineered and cryptanalized both stream ciphers currently used in the competing satellite communication standards GMR-1 and GMR-2. To break Thuraya's encryption (which implements the GMR-1 standard) in a real-world scenario, they have enhanced an existing ciphertext-only attack.

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