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

Mh mhtajik at
Sun Sep 30 11:30:34 PDT 2012

 what you are asking for is basically against a huge 10 figure business vector , that is , limiting the number of role players in terrestrial radio communication that can reach beyond borders . you will fail and stay disappointed no matter which "beyond horizon" tech you are looking for ranging from HF to the newsiest WCDMA based stuff . deep down , the DSP business is limited to a handful of actual IP owners who actively make moves ( legal or otherwise ) against an uncontrollable total free open ( as in full naked ) projects . there have been attempts before that i know of , all experiencing the same with minor differences in approach . additionally , various parts of "Standard" communication protocols are Patented . internationally respected organizations such ITU honor these patents . so after all , "deterministic" elements of these Standards wouldn't be found "Open" in any device that is legally built and distributed . i am not even going to get started with corrupt and stupid regional regulations by governments to import/export hardware .  

assuming this is not a list to go wild technical about stuff i am suggesting to anybody who is looking for safe means of comm , to use old or rather obsolete technologies and put clever efforts to adopt them with whatever exists as current controlled infrastructure . e.g , piggy backing on a public telephone booth and use dial up with a simple scrambling on computer side - good luck to government or hostile dudes to figure out your signal . people should learn from the recent carrier ending Russian intelligence embarrassment where the NOCs were using ad hoc wifi or ptp bluetooth links to communicate with each other in a cafe or park near Russian consulate . is a so-called punch line i'd suggest people to take a good look at "the monster PLA-owned" Huawei 3G dongles . everyone that i tested are using Qualcomm Chips so Huawei is building the plastic shit containing the modem , and other Chinese vendors are building the ICs but the actual IP implemented by some HDL is off-limits to 2 maybe 3 entities . they wouldn't let you "Open" it unless they want to scratch 2 maybe 3 zeros from the 10 figure profit i mentioned . not gonna happen . i do understand this wasn't the kind of comment you were looking for but i'd rather share it anyway .


On یکشنبه, مهر ۹, ۱۳۹۱ at ۱۸:۵۴, John Case wrote:

> I'm interested in finally responding in some ways to the vulnerabilities  
> and privacy implications of the mobile phone and its networks. For my own  
> comms, that is.
> In addition to the problems with privacy and tracking, I am also worried  
> about problems at lower layers - like rogue BTS abusing my radio to  
> exploit the phone. We first saw real evidence of this at defcon 2-3 years  
> ago when there was a rogue BTS attempting android exploits (see coderman  
> posting to cypherpunks around that time).
> I think there are two broad strategies to pursue here. The first is the  
> obvious one - a totally open, free software firm, from layer 1 all the way  
> up. The major problem with this strategy is that it is a long way off  
> from existing - osmocombb still barely has a working model of a phone that  
> can place an actual call, and this is ONLY on a very limited chipset that  
> is 2G only, and voice only. It appears that osmocom is moving forward in  
> a lot of ways, but they are not graduating to other, or better chipsets  
> (ie., to 3G, and to fast data) - and even if they were, we're years and  
> years away.
> But there's another strategy that has all of the components already in  
> existence, and that is to use a handheld computer that *happens* to  
> contain a GSM or CDMA *module* (or both) in addition to WIFI. With this  
> setup, you can behave as a SIP device (using WIFI as much as possible) for  
> all calls - you never make a call, or perform any action using the phone  
> network directly. All phone activity is tunneled through SIP/VOIP to your  
> own server at a fixed datacenter, where you have either a hosted SIM in a  
> pci card, or you have a POTS uplink.
> This is very appealing because it means that most of the time (depending  
> on where you live) you are just using WIFI. When you are forced to  
> failover to (for instance) GSM, you are using a very, very simple, modular  
> modem that you can easily control (ifconfig xx0 down) and that caontains  
> an anonymous, prepaid SIM. You don't care about the number, or the ID, or  
> about any of the contraints of prepaid SIMs, since you just need network  
> access.
> From the outside world, all calls come from the same fixed point, no  
> matter where you are in the world. Further, if you have colocation, you  
> control that fixed point. Finally, while you don't have total layer 1  
> control over the GSM modem, you do have *some* control over it - you can  
> ifconfig it down, you can disable it, you can *physically remove* it, and  
> presumably you can interact with it in much more profound ways, since its  
> a modular modem inside of a unix system you control (your handset).
> 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 ?)
> I am looking at some of the later HP Ipaq models, like the HP Ipaq 910c,  
> which has GSM built in (it's a phone) ... honestly, I'm at a loss - I know  
> all about modern phones like nexus, etc., which will not fit here, and I  
> know all about modern android-based handheld devices like nook and kindle  
> fire and so on ... but who makes a handheld, phone sized (not tablet  
> sized) linux capable computer that I can easily insert one or more mobile  
> modems into ?
> Since all we need is a linux computer, perhaps other devices, like a mp3  
> player (as long as it has a SD card for a modem) would work ?
> Comments / advice appreciated ...
> --
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