Cairns-based counter-surveillance and encrypted telephony outfit ESD Group
has begun shipping encryption-capable satellite telephones that work
anywhere in Australia.
ESD Group director
Les Goldsmith told ZDNet.com.au that GSM calls can easily be
intercepted and in some countries mobile handsets are taken off-air if users
attempt to scramble calls relayed over standard mobile networks.
"There are some governments who don't like people using encrypted phones,"
"If they know that they're using encrypted technology they'll block
the phone from transmitting, they take away the ability of the phone to make
GSM calls," he said.
Satellite phones are immune from this interference.
The new devices operate over the Thuraya satellite phone network, which
recently expanded its coverage area to include the Asia Pacific region with
the launch of its Thuraya-3 satellite.
"There are efforts to stop [call interceptions]. It's completely forbidden,"
said Goldsmith, who claims the new satellite handsets are being used by
executives who want to ensure their calls are not being monitored.
"[Executives] are particularly concerned about economic espionage where a
government is favouring a local company or has a vested interest in a
contract going a certain way," said Goldsmith.
But there are threats present on our own shores, too, Goldsmith said. He
claims an increasing number of Australian companies are having their offices
bugged and telephone calls intercepted.
"The problem that we have in Australia is we have individuals who want to
make money... the fast way and cheat," he said.
Corporate espionage conducted with listening devices and telephone
surveillance is a legitimate threat, Goldsmith insisted, but rarely gets
"Most corporate entities do not want to announce to shareholders or the
public that they've been victims of surveillance in the first place and if
they can hide it they will," said Goldsmith.