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[liberationtech] Exactly how are satellite transmissions tapped/intercepted, in Syria and elsewhere?

Enrique Piraces piracee at
Tue Nov 29 08:43:49 PST 2011

Hi all, thanks for the detailed responses on this thread. 

I'm trying to understand how weak BGAN, Thuraya, Iridium encryption could be. For example one of them claims in its site that "Thuraya's integrated satellite communication solutions are rapidly deployable, employ the highest level of encryption, and are proven in meeting exacting security standards for use in the field."

Beyond the ability that some may have to detect the location of a call/connection and log their calls, how true is that their encryption can protect the contents of the information transmitted? Is the risk the same for each voice/data/text?

Is part of the solution to use encryption modules like


> While this information is
> encrypted there seems to be some doubt as to the strength of that
> encryption. The US military complex did not have much faith in it and
> seems to have been able to bypass or crack the encryption to access the
> location information of Thuraya devices used by Iraqi Government
> officials[2]. While it is not clear exactly how this was achieved we do
> know that Thuraya devices were manufactured by Boeing and this fact may
> have contributed to an easy decryption route for US forces.

Thuraya is easy to monitor. It's not even expensive. There are
commercial solutions and there are non-commercial projects that work
with common hardware. Satellite communication networks are absolutely
not secure to use without additional protection. If location anonymity
is important, I highly advise against using satellite communications
technology. Unless you've properly tampered with the device to falsify
the location reporting, you're probably not as secure as you'd like...

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