Cornell researchers break Galileo codes

July 8, 2006 at 9:59 pm | | news

So a couple of researchers at Cornell broke the PRN codes for Europe’s Galileo GPS satellites. It’s a $4 billion dollar investment that, unlike the US satellites, was supported by private investors expecting to charge for access. Except they protected the system with codes that were broken in 1 week, without any serious computing power, using only Matlab and a dish receiver, by non-crypographers. There’s also a lot of background story to the issue, since the US doesn’t have the ability to turn Galileo off, should we decide who’s next to liberate.

The first satellite was at 36 degrees declination from NY, so I’m not sure if its visible from CA, but here’s the PRN. Maybe they’ll do a better job next time.


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  1. Dude, Kendall is a nutball.

    F{kendall(t)} = Nutball(s)

    Comment by william — July 9, 2006 #

  2. OK, I’m not entirely sure what a PRN code is and I’m too lazy to read the Wikipedia post, so I have two questions:
    1) Are we all going to die?
    2) Is this somehow the Bush Administration’s fault?

    Comment by sam — July 10, 2006 #

  3. 1) Yes. Blame it on the dinosaurs.
    2) Bush created the dinosaurs. See #1.

    Also, I noticed William generated a calling function using me as an input. You’ll also notice that he included a time parameter on the input. Everyone knows that my science is so tight, it rhymes faster than the speed of light. This can only be true universally if I am in fact a constant of nature, therefore independent of time.

    Comment by kendall — July 10, 2006 #

  4. OK ok folks, settle down – i read the article. the codes weren’t meant to be unbreakable. it was basically “security by oscurity.” eventually this level of GPS accuracy will be free anyways, but while the system is in beta, they weren’t sharing the codes. Now they are. Thats all. Nothing to see.

    I blame the spiraling deficit and creationists everywhere.

    Comment by ilya — July 11, 2006 #

  5. I guess I misread the frequencies. As it turns out, the commercial service will be using the 1.02 MHz broadcast band in addition a 1.12 MHz signal for groundbased assistance. So I guess they’re planning on cranking the entropy in their 1.12 MHz signal. Then again, I and thousands of others are the owners of a $10 digital camera and $20 digital video recorder owing to “security by obscurity.”

    Comment by kendall — July 11, 2006 #

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