Thuraya dismisses security concerns

The chairman of satellite operator Thuraya has declared its system secure following the decision of the US military to ban the use of its phones by journalists in Iraq.

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By  Richard Agnew Published  April 6, 2003

The chairman of satellite operator Thuraya has declared its system secure following the decision of the US military to ban the use of its phones by journalists in Iraq.

Mohammad Omran said he was confident Thuraya’s satellite communications system, designed by US giant Boeing, was “robust in its design” and that the location of users “could not be compromised”.

Seeking to reassure its customers, he said: “Only Thuraya has access to the information, and it would be extremely difficult for an outsider to decode the GPS information reported. To intercept and decode this information for unauthorized purposes would be a lengthy process requiring specialized skills and access to proprietary technical data.”

His words come after Iraqi civilians were ordered to hand over satellite phones last week when the government said it feared they were being used by the allied forces to identify targets.

Reporters ‘embedded’ with US forces in Iraq have also been prohibited from using Thuraya’s phones in a move seen to reflect concerns that they could give away their location.

Omran conceded: “Of course we understand military planners’ need to avoid potential safety risks to their personnel.”

But he pointed out that the company, which operates in Europe, North and Central Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, offers location services based on internationally accepted standards, “is politically unaligned, operates independently and is unaffected by events within its service region”.

“We wish to assure all Thuraya users that the technology of the Thuraya system ensures the security of users' location data," Omran said.

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