Hi, I was reading an article on why Russia hasn't taken out Ukraine's mobile networks and one of the premises was that they could use it to eavesdrop on calls. Depending on how old their infrastructure is, that doesn't make sense as I would assume that along with e2e SIP that they'd be using SRTP with the SRTP keys exchanged using DTLS which is my understanding of the way they are secured. My understanding could be wrong though, or either outdated, or not uniformly deployed.

The other thing that's weird is that the same article says they want to keep it up so they can use their bandwidth too which strikes me as sort of a crazy assumption in a war, but that's not much of an operational issue.


I saw a tweet where they said a Russian soldier called up the chain of command on cell because the supplied secure radios weren't functional in some manner at one point. Local cell might be the back up plan. Take it for what it is worth.

I also read that the Russian military is depending on the mobile network for some (much?) of their own communication which isn’t that surprising if the stories about their general ineptness are to be believed. Maybe the reverse is happening and Ukraine and allies are listening in on Russian soldiers? I would also think it serves a purpose to track targets in either direction too.

The article made reference to what I guess is the equivalent to CALEA which puzzles me because the telco is the one that implements that and they need authorization. I suppose the Russians could hack that, but the Ukrainians could just ask for it. I'm betting that the article is as good as its cost.


Don’t need to break phone to tower encryption when the vast majority of the call pathway is not encrypted.

During World War I, the British Empire did this. It strategically cut telegraph cables with Germany to force telegraph traffic to other cables which the British Empire could monitor.

However, that is an obsolete strategy. It is occasionally used since WWII. Other than in Hollywood movies, nation-states have other less obvious ways to eavesdrop on civilian infrastructure. It might still be used for so-called 'black fiber' (military circuits), which is different than 'dark fiber.'

Non-state actors are more likely to target civilian telecommunications infrastructure, e.g. the Taliban used to blow up cell towers in Afghanistan until the telco agreed to shutdown cell service during certain hours.

Disclaimer: I don't know current russian military doctrine.

Don't need to break phone to tower encryption when the vast majority of the call pathway is not encrypted.

If it's VoLTE I assume it would be sips: