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(also Global System for Mobile Communications)

GSM definition

GSM, short for Global System for Mobile communications, is a standard developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) to describe the protocols for second-generation (2G) digital cellular networks used by mobile devices. As a result, it became the de facto global standard for mobile communications — with over 90% market share, operating in over 210 countries and territories.

GSM examples

  • Mobile communications: GSM provides basic voice call and text messaging services alongside data services for browsing, emails, and other internet-based applications.
  • Roaming: GSM enables international roaming, allowing users to access mobile services when traveling to different countries.
  • Data signing. KDFs generate signing keys, and users utilize these keys to sign data.
  • User authentication. KDFs generate authentication keys that authenticate users.

Advantages and disadvantages of GSM


  • Wide adoption: Being a global standard, GSM offers widespread coverage and international roaming.
  • Standardized: It ensures compatibility between the various network elements and services.


  • Security: 2G GSM has known security vulnerabilities, which makes it less secure than 3G and 4G networks.
  • Speed: It offers slower data transfer rates than newer mobile network technologies like 3G, 4G, or 5G.

Using GSM

  • Be aware that using GSM for internet access won’t provide the same security measures as using a secure Wi-Fi network or a VPN, and it’s susceptible to certain types of cyberattacks.
  • If security is a concern, consider using a secure service like a VPN when transmitting sensitive data over a mobile network.

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