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[liberationtech] hardware options for a computer phone, not a mobile phone...

John Case case at SDF.ORG
Tue Oct 30 09:39:02 PDT 2012


I was writing last month about some options for a wifi only "phone" that 
could be locked down as a unix device (hardened in typical ways) and 
completely free from meddling from the over the air updates and fiddling 
(and in some cases, DMA access!) that providers have via the mobile 
radio...

The best guess, and I think a very good option is:


>> So the question ... what is the handset ?
>>
>> If a handheld linux computer (archos ?  old compaq ipaq ?) wasn't
>> designed as a mobile phone, it won't have speaker at the ear and
>> mic at the mouth as you would expect, so that's difficult.  OTOH,
>> if you use a handheld computer that was designed as a phone, you
>> have a problem with the tight integration of the mobile modem with
>> the device, and you lose some control over the modem and its attack
>> vectors (although if you are running a completely open OS, perhaps
>> not ?)
>
> Hi John,
>
> The Samsung Galaxy Player is essentially an Android phone without GSM
> hardware. It's phone sized and has a microphone and speaker suitable
> for making VoIP calls.
>
> I believe it's possible to install CyanogenMod on it to get a
> completely free software stack. I don't know whether anyone's tried
> connecting a USB GSM modem.


Ok, fine.  But out of curiousity, how much risk does a mobile phone with 
no sim card add to a solution like that ?

GSM, and 3G, are designed around the sim card, so I understand that 
basically nothing can happen at all without it - I feel relatively certain 
that a typical carrier deployed base station, etc., is "powerless" against 
my phone with no sim card inserted.

But what if I was very tinfoilhat-crazy-paranoid - what kind of scenario 
or attack could I be susceptible to if I had an actual *phone* with no sim 
card installed (as opposed to a device like samsung galaxy player that has 
no mobile radio installed AT ALL)  ?



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