Exhibit of the Month April 2015
Hacker Tron’s Cryptofon (Prototype), 1998
As early as 1998, the hacker Tron explained, "at this time the private sphere is being disrupted or restricted."
In the same year in which the German government allowed the surveillance of private premises through its "Großer Lauschangriff" (large-scale bugging operation), Tron developed a device that made telephones tap-proof.
The Cryptofon displayed here is an ISDN telephone with built-in end-to-end encryption. Along with the phone technology, the Cryptofon includes components for encryption and decryption of conversations in real time. The individual key code for phone calls is recorded on a chip card, which can be substituted at any time. The mathematical algorithm called IDEA is used for the encryption.
In contrast to many other encryption methods that are kept confidential by companies or intelligence agencies, this software was an open source project that was therefore also considered extremely secure.
The Berlin Hacker Tron (1972 - 1998)
The Cryptofon was Tron’s university project at the University of Applied Sciences Berlin (TFH). In the Berlin hacker scene, Tron was better known for cracking telephone cards and pay-TV systems.
In October 1998, Tron was found dead in a park in Berlin-Neukölln. The District Attorney called it a suicide and closed its investigation. Tron’s friends and relatives suspect that he fell victim to commercial and intelligence service interests.
Started in September 2015 the Cryptofon is on display in the new exhibition "The Network. People, Cables, Data Streams". It is a permanent loan from Prof. Dr. Clemens Kordecki, Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin.
The exhibition "The Network" is sponsored by the European Fonds for Regional Development (EFRE) and by the Lotto Stiftung Berlin.