Workshop: Mobile Media & Dataveillance How To Encrypt SMS

Workshop: Mobile Media & Dataveillance How To Encrypt SMS

Talk @ No-Space, August 13, 7:30 pm

With Oli from CryptoSMS

The number of mobile phone users is expected to exceed the 4 billion mark by the end of this year – that’s more than two thirds of the world’s population. And the number of text messages is expected to reach a whopping 1.8 trillion in 2010.1  From the U.S. to Moldova to Iran to Uganda cell phones have facilitated all kinds of activism. While mobile phones bring many benefits to social movements, it is important to be aware of the digital data trails they leave behind.2

This workshop has two parts:

First, a general introduction: why encrypt your SMS? Oli from CryptoSMS, based in Hamburg, will discuss the open-source project’s history and current state.

Second, you’ll have a chance to get your inner hacker on with a hands-on workshop. We’ll install the encryption software on our cell phones, initialize them, exchange keys, and send encrypted SMS messages.

ABOUT CryptoSMS is a GPL (general public license) open source application for cell phones running J2ME (Java for mobiles). It runs on a lot of phones. CryptoSMS provides public/private key encryption, key generation and key management. It sends and receives encrypted SMS and public keys, encrypts and de-encrypts files, offers key verification via fingerprints and provides a secure login.

CryptoSMS is based on encryption with elliptic curves, which is a modern solution for encryption with small and/or embedded devices. Elliptic curve encryption provides good performance and has low memory requirements. It encrypts only the contents of the messages, but does not in any way encrypt or scramble the identities of the sender or recipients. It is not an anonymizer — it does not hide the device’s id/number from where the SMS comes and where it goes to.


Oli has been involved with the project since its inception, and mainly keeps the project organized, does the communication work and strongly enforces the support of many languages in the user interface. At the moment he is traveling to a couple of global cities to conduct research on mobile media and dataveillance, interviewing participants in social movements, hackers and artists about their use of mobile media. He is based in Hamburg, where he suffers from bad weather but enjoys people and culture.

August 31, 2009


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