Prism Break – Free yourself from the NSA. Really?

Lots in the news last week about how the NSA & GCHQ spy on us.

This won’t come as a great surprise to anyone who’s read The Puzzle Palace, or The Shadow Factory by James Bamford.

Even Peter Wright’s Spycatcher, from 1987, talks about his time in MI5 burgling and bugging his way around London.

The only thing that’s a real revelation here is that they’d now like to legitimise this activity. Presumably making it acceptable as evidence of your wrong-doing, where previously it would have been evidence obtained illegally.

Of course, being able to hoover everything up automatically from internet backbones is the massive difference between now, and ten to twenty years ago. There are US nuclear submarines with optic fibre cable splicing capabilities, and anything that passes through a satellite is fair game too.

It’s been alleged that, up to now the illegal spying on UK citizens has been carried out by the NSA, because it would be illegal for GCHQ to do it without a court warrant. Once again, just because it becomes technical possible to do something, doesn’t mean you actually have to go ahead and do it. (but they always do!)

One point not mentioned much in last weeks news coverage is that these data warehouses are paid for with our tax dollars/pounds. Personally, I’d like to see a few more teachers & nurses employed by the state, with my tax contributions. In the same week the UK government are talking about reducing the number of school classroom assistants.

If you want to mark yourself out as unusual by moving your data out of the cloud, then the is worth a look.

Written by admin in: 3G,Bluetooth,DECT,General |

RTL SDR Software Defined Radio running on Android phones and tablets with Ice Cream Sandwich

RTL SDR Software Defined Radio running on Android phones and tablets running Ice Cream Sandwich.

photo of nexus 7 tablet running sdr touch radio software

Take a phone or tablet running Android Ice Cream Sandwich, a USB cable wired for OTG, and a $20 USB TV Stick, and you have a touch screen radio scanner capable of tuning anywhere from 52-2200Mhz.

From their website:

“Turns your mobile phone or tablet into a cheap and portable software defined radio scanner. Allows you to listen to live on air FM radio stations, weather reports, police, fire department and emergency stations, taxi traffic, airplane communications, audio of analogue TV broadcasts, HAM radio amateurs, digital broadcasts and many more! Depending on the hardware used, its radio frequency coverage could span between 50 MHz and 2.2 GHz. It currently demodulates WFM, AM, NFM, USB, LSB, DSB, CWU and CLW signals.

You can get a compatible USB receiver for under $20 online from eBay. Just plug in your rtl-sdr compatible USB DVB-T tuner into your Android device using a USB OTG Cable and turn on SDR Touch. For list of supported Realtek RTL2832U based dongles, please see the end of the description. Those features are supported via a driver that you will need to download from Google Play.”

Written by admin in: 3G,4G,Bluetooth,DECT,GPS,GSM,Tetra,WiFi |

italian supreme court affirms workers tumor risk link from wireless mobile phones

From today’s Microwave News bulletin:

Many of you may have already heard that the Italian
Supreme Court has affirmed a worker’s compensation
claim filed by a man who developed a tumor after using
wireless phones daily for 12 years. This is the first time
a court has ruled in favor of such a link.

The decision may turn out to be an important
legal precedent, but it also represents a defeat for
a small coterie of experts on ICNIRP and at the
Karolinska Institute in Stockholm whose
“don’t worry, be happy” outlook was rejected by the court.

Read our new story at:


Louis Slesin


Story appeared in the UK press too!

Here’s the Sun’s article:

Written by admin in: DECT,GSM |

weak magnetic fields alter number of chromosomes in cancer cells research

Weak magnetic fields alter number of chromosomes in cancer cells research.

This is really interesting

Research that’s easy to replicate elsewhere, or not, that could change the game forever…

Written by admin in: 3G,Bluetooth,DECT,GPS,GSM,WiFi |

RTL-SDR cheap USB TV dongles become super cheap USRP radios!!!

That’s right folks. Software radio just became mainstream. Up until last summer you paid £1000+ for a USRP, then came along the £120 Funcube dongle. Now you can learn all about SDR for £20.

You can now use a £20 USB DVB-TV Stick to receive any frequency from 64-1700MHz at a high bandwidth sample rate of 2.8MS/s. Required chipset is RTL2832U & Elonics E4000 tuner combo. Known good units are EzCapTV 668 & 666 units, along with a host of similar boards.

What has been successfully tested so far is the reception of FM/AM radio, TETRA (police, ambulance, fire), GMR (sat phones), GSM (mobile phones), ADS-B (aircraft data) and POCSAG (pagers).

Go and type RTL-SDR into Youtube and you’ll find loads of great demo videos – like these:

Here’s another good page :

Some useful Windows SDR# software here

Written by admin in: 3G,DECT,GPS,GSM,Masts,Tetra,Uncategorized |

27C3 Hacking Conference Brilliant, Once Again.

If you didn’t know, every year between Christmas & New Year thousands of computer hackers converge on Berlin to showcase their latest electronic hardware exploits at the Chaos Computer Club conference. I got interested two years ago when some German students demonstrated their £30 Dect phone laptop ‘debugger’ in a talk at 25C3.

The great thing about the yearly CCC conference is, even if you can’t make it there in person, you can watch live streams of the various talks online. This years highlights for me:

Index of talks here

Wideband GSM sniffing here

The Baseband Apocalypse here

Running your own GSM stack on a phone. here

27C3 main wiki index here

27C3 Videos

Written by admin in: DECT,GSM,Uncategorized |

GSM Mobile Phone Security Practically Dead.

GSM Mobile Phone Security is now practically dead. Anyone with a spare couple of grand can now do what was previously the exclusive preserve of national security agencies. Previously you’d have to spend £100K and prove you were a suitable government-grade customer.

According to the’s security pages, several talks at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas this week will take GSM hacking down to the script-kiddie level – all you need is enough cash for a modified USRP USB radio peripheral & a 2000GB hard drive to store the rainbow lookup tables.

With that kit you can grab big chunks of the mobile phone spectrum in real time and target individual IMSI numbers. The researchers reckon that 80% of mobile traffic passes over the old A5/1 GSM system. A5/3 & 3G phones should still be considered secure. But remember if your 3G phone isn’t near a strong signal it will be stepping back down to A5/1 anyway.

Think about all those corporate espionage guys out there, they must be salivating like crazy. The rainbow lookup tables are a hefty download at 2TB, but if you’re prepared to travel to Oslo, The Register reports that Frank A. Stevenson (guy who cracked the CSS encryption scheme on DVDs) will swop you a blank drive for one with the rainbow tables on. (Rainbow Tables are lookup tables with the answers to all the possible challenge answers for the GSM A5/1 algorithm – this saves lots of time working each one out indivdually, and crucially makes near real-time decryption possible).

Of course the GSM Alliance makes light of all this, still calling it theoretical – and in some ways they have a point, it’s not like you can do this on an old reprogrammed Nokia 3310 after all!

When Dect (the cordless phone you use at home) was hacked last year we didn’t see UK identity thieves having a field day, gathering up bank pins etc. Only a couple of thousand of the PCMCIA Dect cards were in circulation, and most were probably bought up by security researchers quite quickly. So the hardware to hack Dect became expensive & you had to be able to configure a Linux laptop yourself to use it – the barrier to entry was therefore set high.

With GSM it’s even higher. You needs lots of Linux knowledge & £1000 worth of USRP radio hardware + soldering skills too. Sure organised criminals, corporate spies & bent media companies will use this technology to spy on the rich and famous, but it won’t become a massive problem in the UK. If anything, it will just speed along the adoption of 3G smartphones.

I wonder where Karsten Nohl & friends will be heading next with their USRPs? Dect cracked last year, this year GSM. Airwave/Tetra next year, maybe?

Written by admin in: DECT,GSM |

BBC Watchdog – Mobile Phone Text Message Spoofing

There was an interesting feature this week on BBC’s Watchdog programme about mobile phone text message spoofing. Two American researchers demonstrated how they are able to send fake MMS/Text messages that look like they’ve come from your bank to a smartphone.

This is a variation on phishing emails, but now on mobiles. All mobile network operators responded by saying that they weren’t aware of any real world use of this exploit that had so far left a single customer out of pocket – and they’re quite probably right. This seems like an awful lot of effort to go to if you want to get your hands on someones bank details & security passphrases.

I detailed on this site about 16 months ago that Dect cordless phones were now completely insecure. Anyone with a laptop, PCMCIA Com-On-Air Dect card & a decent antenna can record all you household phone calls from anywhere within a 200 metre radius of your home. Lots of older people now do home banking by telephone and over a series of calls you’ll be handing over full pins & security details. Even if you don’t give them to the bank you’ll be reusing them when you’re confirming your identity to insurance, utility & credit card providers – maybe you use that same 4 digit pin code for your home alarm & cashcard. Maybe you’re just paying for stuff with your credit card over the phone. If you live in a block of flats where tenants come and go every 6 months you’d be an easy target.

Ten years ago criminals could use an analogue radio scanner to record all the traffic on the old fashioned cordless home phones, perhaps to a computer for later analysis. They could use a DTFM decoder to figure out which number you’d called, and build up a profile that would leave them knowing you better than your best friend. Well now with the supposedly secure Dect phones they can take this further. Because each Dect phone has its own unique identifier – like the MAC address in your PC or the OUI number in a Bluetooth chip – it’s easy to zone out all the people you don’t want to listen to. Okay, only about half the Dect phones in use are insecure, but which half are you in? It’s not very reassuring is it? We’re nearly all using these Dect cordless phones at home these days.

Anyway, I saw not one article 16 months ago in the UK press or on TV about the Dect threat (although lots appeared in the German media), but now we need to worry about spoof texts. Go figure. If you really care about your health and security use a wired home phone.

As regards unusual text messages from your bank, apply some common sense – if it looks wrong, it’s because it is wrong. Wait until you get home and log onto your account there. Don’t ring numbers or use web links in these messages. Open a new browser window & check your balance from your 3G phone that way.

Pop into the bank and ask them about the real state of your account. If money diasappears from your account by a fraud that’s not your fault they’ll be giving you that money back anyway.

Smartphones are like mini PCs and they can get infected with malware and other nastiness, just like your home PC (for instance it’s now quite common for untrusting partners to secretly install tracking software on their partners smartphones to keep tabs on your whereabouts with GPS accuracy).

BBC Watchdog Story

Written by admin in: 3G,DECT,General,GSM |

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