Voice Scramblers, The Art of Concealing a Phone Conversation

Voice Scramblers, Eavesdropping on Phone Calls

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As we grow more into the future and technology gets more involved, so do the fears of being a victim of eavesdropping or phone tapping. Most would probably say, no…that only happens in the movies. But for many years government officials have used telephone voice scramblers to master the art of concealing a phone conversation.

How Do Voice Scramblers Work?

Most voice scramblers work by inverting the high and low tones of the human voice, which in turn make any words spoken unintelligible. While other voice scramblers will simply mask the voice by sending out a continuous loop of noise or static. Essentially, most voice scramblers are nothing more than electronic ciphering machines.

For instance, if a government official wanted to make a secret phone call to another agency. But didn’t want anyone to be able to intercept the call, they would use a voice scrambler. That way anyone trying to tap into the telephone line would hear nothing but a bunch of gibberish or static as the conversation traveled between the phone lines.

More Technical Workings of a Voice Scrambler

Now that we understand exactly what the purpose of a voice scrambler is, let’s get more in depth with the science behind it.

A voice scrambler is generally made up of two separate units. There is a transmitter, which converts what the caller is saying into unintelligible gibberish and sends it through the phone line. Then there is a receiver, which reverses the process on the other end so that it returns to an understandable conversation.

Anyone trying to eavesdrop or tap into the phone line will hear nothing but distorted, synthetic noise that certainly wouldn’t sound human. So now let’s get even more technical….

The more common voice scrambler encryption methods actually split a human voice up into five different frequency bands. Once they are split, each band is tweaked or mixed by way of a complex algorithm that essentially moves and inverts the sounds. According to experts, there may be close to 4,000 possible combinations, although most standard voice scramblers only use 512 permutations of such.

Can You Decipher Voice Scramblers

As most of you know by know, technology is constantly evolving, just look around at the amazing electronics that are available to the general public. Everything is getting more powerful all the while becoming smaller and more convenient.

So, the answer is yes, of course voice scramblers are not fool proof and the right person with the right skills would certainly be able to decode the scrambled message. And these days there’s probably a nifty little device that will do all that for you. So it only stands to reason that especially the government officials have come up with more ways to encode or encrypt their phone conversations.

Even though it is possible to unscramble these ciphering machines, it is quite time consuming, again depending on the person and their technique. And any machine that could do this automatically would use specially programmed data processors and would need a skilled operator.

Most of this information is more of a history lesson in eavesdropping rather than discussing modern technology, especially at the rate things advance. Most things are out dated before you can even get your article published…lol   A while back we discussed a more modern day example of eavesdropping by asking the question, Can You Be Tracked By Your Cell Phone. So no matter what the age technology is in, there will always be someone out there trying to reverse engineer or “crack the code” to anything and everything.

A Great Caper Involving Voice Scramblers

As for history, in the early 1960s, the US Embassy in Moscow was able to decipher the conversation between the Politburo’s fleet of limousines that was being scrambled.

The deciphering process was said to of taken quite a long time to complete, but it was well worth it. They discovered some very useful political information and lots of gossip related to the Kremlin. But as new technology was introduced, the old fashioned voice scramblers were left with no volume…

Have you ever had a chance to use one of these nifty gadgets for work or play? Or do you have any great information to add about voice scramblers? Please share your experience with us in the comments below.

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