Ever wondered how we are overcome with a sense of security when we talk on our mobile phone, even with dangers like eavesdropping, tampering and impersonation lurking around in dark street corners?
Governed by the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), it is susceptible to all the dangers the internet is. That's where public key cryptography steps in. This encompasses encrypting the information sent by the sender, and decrypting it before the receiver gains access to it. In addition to this, it takes care of problems of authentication, tampering as well as prevents the user from denying information sent, once done. GSM(Global Systems for mobile communication) uses a system of 'shared secret cryptography' to authenticate the user. The further addition of UMTS extends the bounds of security as it uses a longer key for authentication between the network and user.
The security credentials that revolve around public key cryptography might be too complex for the user, but it is their safest shot in ensuring confidentiality of information. Using a symmetric or an asymmetric algorithm, public key cryptography in mobile phones can also be used for the access control device authentication. This is basically where the server sends a request to the phone, which produces a counter response picked up by the server again. Over the past years, a company known as Mobile Electronic Transactions has been striving hard to create a Personal Transaction Protocol which essentially allows self authentication. The SMS (short messaging service) craze has gripped the world and if it wasn't for S/MIME (Secure/Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions), which also revolves around public key cryptography, the privacy of messages sent would have been questionable. Efforts to increase security can be made in terms of a smart card if one is willing to compromise on bandwidth.
Certain packages containing softwares to ensure mobile security are made by local entrepreneurs but the assurance that these wouldn't lead to complications with the working of the phone is not definite. It is cryptography that even makes digital ids possible. In is rumored that, smart cards with a surface of area of as small as 2cm square will take on mobile phones, taking e-commerce to heights the world has never seen before.