The use of cryptanalytic techniques to derive cryptographic keys or otherwise effectively defeat cellular encryption to reveal traffic content. Some cellular encryption algorithms such as A5/1 and A5/2 (specified for GSM use) are known to be vulnerable to such attacks and commercial tools are available to execute these attacks and decrypt mobile phone conversations in real-time. Newer encryption algorithms in use by UMTS and LTE are stronger and currently believed to be less vulnerable to these types of attacks. Note, however, that an attacker with a Cellular Rogue Base Station can force the use of weak cellular encryption even by newer mobile devices.
The table below shows the other attack patterns and high level categories that are related to this attack pattern. These relationships are defined as ChildOf and ParentOf, and give insight to similar items that may exist at higher and lower levels of abstraction. In addition, relationships such as CanFollow, PeerOf, and CanAlsoBe are defined to show similar attack patterns that the user may want to explore.
Standard Attack Pattern - A standard level attack pattern in CAPEC is focused on a specific methodology or technique used in an attack. It is often seen as a singular piece of a fully executed attack. A standard attack pattern is meant to provide sufficient details to understand the specific technique and how it attempts to accomplish a desired goal. A standard level attack pattern is a specific type of a more abstract meta level attack pattern.
Adversaries can rent commercial supercomputer time globally to conduct cryptanalysis on encrypted data captured from mobile devices. Foreign governments have their own cryptanalysis technology and capabilities. Commercial cellular standards for encryption (GSM and CDMA) are also subject to adversary cryptanalysis.
The table below specifies different individual consequences associated with the attack pattern. The Scope identifies the security property that is violated, while the Impact describes the negative technical impact that arises if an adversary succeeds in their attack. The Likelihood provides information about how likely the specific consequence is expected to be seen relative to the other consequences in the list. For example, there may be high likelihood that a pattern will be used to achieve a certain impact, but a low likelihood that it will be exploited to achieve a different impact.
Use of hardened baseband firmware on retransmission device to detect and prevent the use of weak cellular encryption.
Monitor cellular RF interface to detect the usage of weaker-than-expected cellular encryption.
A Related Weakness relationship associates a weakness with this attack pattern. Each association implies a weakness that must exist for a given attack to be successful. If multiple weaknesses are associated with the attack pattern, then any of the weaknesses (but not necessarily all) may be present for the attack to be successful. Each related weakness is identified by a CWE identifier.
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Page Last Updated or Reviewed:
September 30, 2019