Fairbanks Encryption

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kc8mvw

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Can anyone confirm that both AST and Fbx PD have gone to encrypted signals?

When I had the scanner programmed, I could only hear digital bursts on the dispatch and NCIC channels (I programmed it wrong, still trying to reprogram, see other thread in software programming).

Thanks & 73

Bill, KC8MVW
 

kikito

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Yep, it seems that AST has gone encrypted. There's still a few units here and there that are not or forgot to flip the switch to ENC or like it's bound to happen occasionally, some radios, sometimes might drop the ENC key and won't be able to hear until the radio re-keys. Just some of the pains they'll be dealing with from now on. I would think it's a dangerous situation to have at certain times but hopefully they know what they're getting into..... I've already heard a couple of times some confusion due to this "feature".

As far as FAI PD, I think only one unit lately has been encrypted but maybe it's the other way around and they forgot to flip the switch back to Clear mode.

On a personal opinion/note, I think it's kind of a waste of money and resources for them go encrypted for day to day communications but whatever..... Our tax dollars at work.
 

kc8mvw

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Thanks for the information.

I've found out that FBX PD will be going full encrypted soon, they are testing on some of their units now. Guess there will be less to listen to...

Bill
 

rogerx

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So much for avoiding traffic accidents and trouble now. :-/


... on a side note, so much for listening to the pretty girls in Dispatch saying my name all night long. :-/
 
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kc8mvw

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So far, dispatch has still been decrypted. The cars themselves and NCIC are encrypted.

Will see how long this lasts...
 

rogerx

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Would just like to say, have been taught pretty well in the past with some political science as well as other topics.

I'm for encrypted when personal info is tx (ie. home address, phone, ss, ...). But for non-scrambed dispatch / common everyday incidents.

Unscrambled for; 1) As a back-up plan encase nobody is able to respond except the nearest bystander (however unlikely it is somebody is able to both hear & able to respond) and 2) The legal fact, when something happens, I prefer as well as others, as many "eyes on" a situation as possible for legal reasons. Never really came across a cop not wanting an extra set of eyes & ears on an emergency situation --- however, I didn't experience anything earlier then 80's or 90's. And, the hype is never ending.

A good case scenario was in Cleveland when I was working, a call went out for a response on a vehicle accident. The call went ignored 3-4 times and a buddy of mine stated he responded -- to a high speed vehicle collision with two injuries... the female passenger ended up dieing in his arms. Was awhile ago, and I might have screwed a few facts... but the moral of the story is there. Every week or month, you'll hear a 911 call in the middle of nowhere, where nobody can easily get to. Then, you've got weather, remoteness, no addresses... recipe for disaster in my experience ...

Another case scenario, during an incident, a cop gets hurt and can only call on his encrypted radio (or forgets to flip a switch to unscramble). If a ham or somebody retired is in the area, they'll merrily end-up just driving-by the area instead of being able to look for the fallen cop & helping. Although rare... you never know. :-/

The Feds are a good example of this. You'd think they'd be totally encrypted all the time, but yet they aren't probably like so first responders can respond. And then, not to mention, the facts of WW2 Nazi policing practices -- I'm so glad I got some political science in before going belly-up!!!

I've been through several cities, and I seen some stuff politically, where ugly crimes get covered-up due to the fact they might deter tourism profits. However, covering up something never fixed anything from what I've seen. Sticking the dirty laundry out for everybody to see keeps people in the know, gives them the ability to clean it up.

On the flip, I'm always glad to hear their tinkering to make something better. ;-) ... hate to forget my license, and have all my personal info broad casted unencrypted.

... of course, what I've mentioned, is nothing new and probably quite boring to hear for most of you out there. ;-)

<shrugs> in the meantime, I'll just try to keep an open mind if they do stay scrambled... and cry myself to sleep every night in my darkened loneliness! --- Gosh those girls are pretty! If I didn't have any self-control, I'd be calling 911 all the time!
 

kikito

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I would like to see any historical, statistical and/or factual information to support and justify the decision of a Public Safety agency to encrypt or otherwise obfuscate their routine communications from the public and the media. How does it supposedly increase their safety and ultimately increases OUR safety, as the citizens paying for them to protect us, which is after all, the bottom line. My guess is that there's very FEW cases, in decades total, where encryption would've help in any given situation. There's probably more instances where it hampered communications, but I digress....

Besides, I'm pretty sure if it wasn't for the flood of Homeland Security grants, they couldn't have afforded encryption in the first place. Nowadays, when the big word in Public Safety is supposed to be "Interoperability", how is encrypting, which adds more layers of complexity, cost and possible failure, helping achieve that goal? Instead, the money could've been better used for other stuff I'm sure they need like gear, supplies, weapons, ammo, vehicles, training, etc.

Whether encryption works or not for the agencies using it, is uncertain. What is for certain, is that us, the tax payers as usual, will get stucked with the bill for that and many other unnecessary things for years to come regardless.....
 

rogerx

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Think every reasonably edumacated person is going to ditto this.
This gets into the spectrum, "Who polices the police" ...etc.

But at the opposite end of the spectrum I could probably elaborate on those few cases.

As for the tax dollars at work, if not for our Government investing in such technology, then who's going reliably invest in such technology? I'd hate to see the police using 20 year old tech, while us civilians are using better stuff -- and then they're not prepared for a real world situation.

In the end, it's about good checks & balances.

Getting this stuff working over this vast rural area must be a feat. Besides, we are in a unique area.

Here ya go... Cleveland uses a closed system. (Only one I really know of out of all the States.)
Cuyahoga County, Ohio (OH) Scanner Frequencies and Radio Frequency Reference

Anybody see the city getting any cleaner in the past 15 years? I'm sure tourism has picked up! lol Doubtful. Last we heard, they found a guy with 15 dead bodies in his house recently making National news!

... and the scenario I spoke of above happened in Cleveland, and I guess luckily over analog frequencies at the time.

Just southwest of Cleveland is Parma, as well as quite a few nicer cities... all using open systems. ... as well as, the PD I knew of at the time, were all willing to accept any help/info they could get.

Think I'd rather play good cop vs. bad cop. ;-)

Even with people *just* listening to an "open system" condones good will and keeps people informed versus hiding the criminal activity. Closing a system (keeping things hush) is what criminals want!

<shrugs> pros & cons to everything. I'll back off now ... don't wanna hijack this with too much chitter chatter.
 

kikito

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As for the tax dollars at work, if not for our Government investing in such technology, then who's going reliably invest in such technology? I'd hate to see the police using 20 year old tech, while us civilians are using better stuff -- and then they're not prepared for a real world situation.
This ALMR system is as 'high-tech' as it gets at the moment even WITHOUT the encryption. I'm not against keeping up with technology, just the opposite. It just seems that the more technology we get lately, the less we are communicating overall. Like I mentioned earlier, communication across agencies is the hot topic lately and something that is NOT happening very well or efficiently during big events or emergencies like 9/11.

Anybody see the city getting any cleaner in the past 15 years? I'm sure tourism has picked up! lol Doubtful. Last we heard, they found a guy with 15 dead bodies in his house recently making National news!
In my opinion and the way I see the whole encryption thing is like the anti-gun issue. You can ban all guns if you can and create all the laws against them that you will, BUT the bad guys will still get them and use them for unlawful purposes. And in the end, as usual, is the law-abiding, regular citizen that ends up defenseless and in the dark......
 

kikito

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<shrugs> pros & cons to everything. I'll back off now ... don't wanna hijack this with too much chitter chatter.
I think this is a good, productive discussion and it's still on topic for the subject as far as I know. No need to "back off". It's fine with me.
 

JoeyC

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In my opinion and the way I see the whole encryption thing is like the anti-gun issue. You can ban all guns if you can and create all the laws against them that you will, BUT the bad guys will still get them and use them for unlawful purposes. And in the end, as usual, is the law-abiding, regular citizen that ends up defenseless and in the dark......
I don't see how you can make this comparison. One can still obtain guns whether they are legal or not. The law abiding citizen won't have them and the criminals will just ignore the law. There is no way for the criminal to decrypt encryption illegally, unless you are suggesting unscrupulous system admins or police departments facilitating the criminal by providing them with the means to listen. This would be quite the scandal.
 

rogerx

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kikito/JETorres. As I've thought a little more on this within the past few days, think I back you 110% to on this stuff.

Correct, the ALMR is state of the art stuff. Been all over the lower 48, and they're not as integrated as the ALMR project.

JoeyC: It's a very slippery slope here. From what I understand, it's foreign governments whom fund the exploitation of decrypting the others encryption. No one is immune from being exploited. If you study this stuff enough with, an open mind, you'll tend to see what kikito is saying. And, if you research local German policing polices/activities during WW2, you'll further understand why some get really scared.

I sincerely like how most States make using a scanner for criminal purposes illegal. This is a strong deterrent IMO, and is probably more effective then wasting time encrypting everything and dealing with the politics. Effective communication is key in emergency situations, and something criminals hate.

Yea, from what I see, AST has little they need to encrypt concerning what they currently talke about on the radio. Think high level crime scenes are really the only time encryption is needed. Even then...

With the past 5-10 years of activity I've heard on the radio around the US, this is like "encrypting communications while citing a person for a improper parking".

Overzealous is probably the term we're looking for here.

I strongly believe, the age of the Internet probably cleaned up a lot of the bad policing practices. Usually I'm one to stand behind the badge, but this one worries me slightly.

I say, put/keep the encryption on another channel and reserve it for Detectives... their talk is usually boring anyways... and details no girls talking. ;-) ... NCIS is also boring ... <shrugs> but someone with poor intent might differ with me. ;-)

As security conscious as I am, I don't even use encryption except for a few tasks. Reliable, robust and most times, in person communication is what I want & need. If I don't want somebody hearing something, then I don't say it. ...until a good look'n girl rubs me the right way. ;-)
 
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kikito

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I don't see how you can make this comparison. One can still obtain guns whether they are legal or not. The law abiding citizen won't have them and the criminals will just ignore the law.
What I meant was that encryption is not going to stop bad guys and crime. It mostly will keep the public and the media from listening. And they lose the 'extra eyes' help too.

That's it in a nutshell.

Encryption in the ways and reason is being used many times nowadays, seems to be just another false sense of security scheme. Just look at the statistics of how Police officers are usually hurt or killed in the course of their duty. How is encryption going to help with that?

What's interesting is how across the nation, other PDs and FDs willingly have a website and an audio feed of their comms over the internet. These are even agencies in far more densely populated areas. Some agencies take it to one extreme or the other. Does it make sense that some agencies go out of their way with our tax money to hide their communications while others agencies encourage people listening?

I know that the agencies have the final say in their policies but they're still ACCOUNTABLE to the public/tax payers they WORK for!

Perhaps checking the statistics of those places that have open communications versus the closed/proprietary/encrypted systems is in order to see what effect, if any, it has on crime. Which is why I compared this subject to gun-control in the first place. There's always studies, polls, research and statistics about the cities and states that have tighter gun policies versus the opposite ones.

I know with some of you on this site is always going to be a dead-end discussion on this subject. We will always stick to our side or what we believe is right. In the end, life goes on and time will tell but the question remains.....
 

rogerx

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Out of curiosity, "Anybody know if this was provoked when the State was forced into accepting the Stimulus funds?" Or, the reasoning behind this?

As many States I've been in, and the policing practices I've been taught or understand, something just doesn't sound right to me. Although I don't know a lot of cops in AK, the older cops I've known elsewhere were usually head-strong about individual rights and would likely balk at this stuff. (ref. my comment concerning WW2 German policing practices)

Another quick note per the Scanner Wiki page; "...intercept encrypted or scrambled communications" is generally seen as a criminal act. Anybody have the AK Statutes handy?

The last I checked the AK Statutes, they were concerned about, "others hearing the scanner and being able to interpret/understand the audio" and/or "listeners repeating/relaying critical info." (I'm paraphrasing from my own memory here.)

When I get some time, I'll check in with the locals to see what's up. Ten to one, it's all going to get down to the fact, dope is legal, everybody's smoking it and getting paranoid. And there's nothing us legal & good hearted folks can do except try to enjoy the ride. eh. :-/
 

kikito

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Out of curiosity, "Anybody know if this was provoked when the State was forced into accepting the Stimulus funds?" Or, the reasoning behind this?
It was probably the typical, "hurry up and wait", "knee-jerk reaction" and having the funds available. I have not seen anywhere mandates to encrypt. The main part of the mandates at the Federal level are for: 1. Interoperability for better comms between agencies and 2. Narrow-banding for spectrum efficiency.

Another quick note per the Scanner Wiki page; "...intercept encrypted or scrambled communications" is generally seen as a criminal act. Anybody have the AK Statutes handy?
I think and last time I checked, in Alaska we don't have specific scanner laws. We only have the general nationwide federal laws about not divulging or taking advantage of what you hear for profit and such. The laws against illegal decrypting also apply here.


When I get some time, I'll check in with the locals to see what's up.
Yeah, see what you can find. If anything, for the sake of conversation....
 

USScanner

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Most likely the ALMR system is using AES-256 bit encryption. Some agencies have chosen to fully encrypt and others leave dispatch in the clear and all other channels, car car, information, tactical etc are encrypted.

AES: Questions and Answers

16. What is the chance that someone could use the "DES Cracker"-like hardware to crack an AES key?

In the late 1990s, specialized "DES Cracker" machines were built that could recover a DES key after a few hours. In other words, by trying possible key values, the hardware could determine which key was used to encrypt a message.

Assuming that one could build a machine that could recover a DES key in a second (i.e., try 255 keys per second), then it would take that machine approximately 149 thousand-billion (149 trillion) years to crack a 128-bit AES key. To put that into perspective, the universe is believed to be less than 20 billion years old.
 

kikito

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Just FYI,

I don't think anyone in here is trying or even suggesting ways to un-encrypt the communications. We're merely discussing the social and political aspects of agencies using it.

That said, they're definitely using AES-256 and I think possibly some agencies might be using DES-OFB. They also have OTAR to constantly change the keys periodically which adds even more, near-impossible chances of decrypting, especially in real-time.
 

USScanner

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As far as agencies who choose to fully encrypt it can make a scanner purchase of $500.00 worthless. Especially in an area where most all traffic comes across one system. For the agency that wishes to leave only their dispatch in the clear and encrypt all other talk groups - it still leaves them with a secure system since car - car, information and tactical channels would be encrypted. If dispatch has a message about a call that can be sent via computer or take the unit to a secure channel for a minute. If a call has sensitive information it can be moved to an encrypted channel. Not all agencies have a second dispatcher to run that channel. This is how most agencies run their channels on the Phoenix System.

Not sure if the stimulus factors into agency encryption. The feds are moving towards more encryption these days. A couple years ago the FCC created a rule allowing ham radio repeaters to use encryption as long as the owner would make the key available to law enforcement when asked. The rule was created since ham radio operators in a disaster could be asked to pass sensitive information for agencies if their radio system were to fail.
 
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N_Jay

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. . . . A couple years ago the FCC created a rule allowing ham radio repeaters to use encryption as long as the owner would make the key available to law enforcement when asked. The rule was created since ham radio operators in a disaster could be asked to pass sensitive information for agencies if their radio system were to fail.
Link or reference please.
 

kikito

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As far as agencies who choose to fully encrypt it can make a scanner purchase of $500.00 worthless.

Believe or not, that's probably the cheap, one-time price to pay. And at least you can always sell it. What about the $500+ a year, per resident in other taxes and fees to fund the said radio systems with the "unnecessary features"?

Don't get me wrong, I don't mind paying for the services provided by the local PD and FD. But when they already have $4K+ radios, cellphones/Blackberries AND in-car laptops with cellular broadband connection and at times they still CAN'T communicate! I find it hard to justify furthering my tax burden to fund things like encryption....
 
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