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US wireless carrier T-Mobile has been upgrading their network silently in an attempt to strengthen their defenses against surveillance equipment that eavesdrops on phone conversations and text messages.

T-Mobile’s Upgrade

The Washington Post stated,

“the upgrade involves switching from A5/1 to a new encryption standard, A5/3, that is harder to crack than older forms of encryption. Testing by The Washington Post has found T-Mobile networks using A5/3 in New York, Washington and Boulder, Colorado, instead of the older A5/1 that long has been standard for second-generation (2G) GSM networks in the United States. More advanced technologies, such as 3G and 4G, already use stronger encryption.”

T-Mobile’s upgrade was jump started when news reports, based on documents provided by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, came out that NSA was eavesdropping on phone calls by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, causing massive backlash in Germany.

T-mobile aims to stop this kind of surveillance with the upgrade to A5/3, although it won’t be able to stop targeted attacks by IMSI Catchers, which are devices the police, FBI, and potential criminals may be using to eavesdrop on phone conversations.

Read the full story at the Washington Post.

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