Project 25 radios, widely adopted across the federal government and many state and local police agencies, boost interoperability, so different agencies would be able to talk to one another, while providing secure encrypted communications. But federal agents frequently don’t turn encryption on, the researchers found.
To intercept the Project 25 radio communications, the researchers used a high-quality receiver that cost about $1,000 and can be purchased off-the-shelf. But, Blaze said, it’s possible to do it on the cheap: “You can do everything you need with equipment you can buy at Radio Shack… hobbyist-grade equipment.”
The reason jamming is relatively easy is that the Project 25 doesn’t use spread spectrum, which puts the would-be jammer at a disadvantage. By contrast, P25 relies on metadata that must be transmitted perfectly for the receiver to make sense of the rest of the communication. A pulse lasting just 1/100th of a second, it turns out, is enough to disrupt the transmission of the metadata.
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