ETSI is making the “primitives” of all TETRA air interface cryptographic algorithms available in the public domain. The decision to make them available was made at a meeting of its technical committee in charge of the TETRA standard (TCCE), in October.
According to ETSI, the decision was made in the light of potential vulnerabilities being discovered in the TETRA air interface security design earlier this year. A spokesperson for the standards organisation said: “Keeping cryptographic algorithms secret was common practice in the early 1990s when the original TETRA algorithms were designed.
“[However], public domain algorithms are now widely used to protect government and critical infrastructure networks, for example AES [Advanced Encryption Standard], standardised by the US government. Effective scrutiny of public-domain algorithms allows for any flaws to be uncovered and mitigated before widespread deployment occurs.”
The spokesperson continued: “TETRA has an original set of air interface cryptographic algorithms - TEA 1,2,3 and 4 - some of which were disclosed by the researchers [earlier this year]. In 2022 ETSI introduced additional algorithms, TEA 5, 6 and 7, in order to future-proof the technology against quantum attacks.
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