[poll: vote now!1!!] 3G paranoia: Discussing solutions

Do you trust the 3G module? That is, if it claims it is off, do you believe it?

  • Yes (>99%)

    Votes: 56 43.4%
  • Probably (67%-99%)

    Votes: 40 31.0%
  • Don't know (33%-66%)

    Votes: 7 5.4%
  • Probably not (1%-32%)

    Votes: 13 10.1%
  • No (<1%)

    Votes: 13 10.1%

  • Total voters
    129

Saber

Advanced Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2012
Messages
1,303
You are aware the 3G module is an optional feature people pay like $100 extra for?
Wonder if something else could be put in it's place on the board in the non-UMTS version. Seems like a waste of space otherwise.
Impossible, I'd say.
Could the area the UMTS module sits on the board be made in a way for adding the module back on afterwards if say the consumer decides, after purchasing, 3G/4G without a USB dongle is what they'd rather have?

All this paranoia is not worth wasting gta04's time on. If you don't trust the hardware and/or software, you should just not buy/use it.
True. This goes for any electronic device out there I suppose, but if there's a way around it it's at least worth investigating.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

_wb_

Microbe
Staff member
Joined
Apr 5, 2012
Messages
5,387
Age
39
Location
Brussels, Belgium
There is no way to avoid the basic problem of trust, unless you build the device completely from scratch yourself, which is impossible (I mean not just assembly, but also designing and building every little component).

Maybe you don't trust the 3G module, so you add a kill switch to cut power to it. Assuming that you never turn it on (because the second you turn it on, who knows what it starts broadcasting to the NSA, right?), you still have to trust that the kill switch actually kills the power to the 3G module, that there is no tiny little battery embedded in the module, etc. Maybe you do some measurements with some instrument to verify things, but can you trust the measurement instrument? Etc. etc. all the way to "maybe this is all an illusion and we are living in the Matrix".

There is no way to avoid that. So don't worry too much, be reasonable and pick your fights. It makes much more sense for intelligence agencies to put backdoors in mainstream devices and key nodes of the network, than to bother with a niche device like this. Sure, the 3G module could be compromised, and the CPU, and maybe they even put some subtle backdoors in some linux drivers. To be 100% sure, you shouldn't use anything, ever.
 

Saber

Advanced Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2012
Messages
1,303
True again. Besides, life is way too short to worry about most of the trivial things and fears people latch onto and call important.

I had a night out early this week with my young nieces at a local hibachi sushi restaurant, and I'm still grinning remembering all the fun they/we had.  :)
 
Last edited by a moderator:

ZetaNeta

Still Fresh
Joined
Feb 27, 2014
Messages
173
There is no way to avoid the basic problem of trust, unless you build the device completely from scratch yourself, which is impossible (I mean not just assembly, but also designing and building every little component).

Maybe you don't trust the 3G module, so you add a kill switch to cut power to it. Assuming that you never turn it on (because the second you turn it on, who knows what it starts broadcasting to the NSA, right?), you still have to trust that the kill switch actually kills the power to the 3G module, that there is no tiny little battery embedded in the module, etc. Maybe you do some measurements with some instrument to verify things, but can you trust the measurement instrument? Etc. etc. all the way to "maybe this is all an illusion and we are living in the Matrix".

There is no way to avoid that. So don't worry too much, be reasonable and pick your fights. It makes much more sense for intelligence agencies to put backdoors in mainstream devices and key nodes of the network, than to bother with a niche device like this. Sure, the 3G module could be compromised, and the CPU, and maybe they even put some subtle backdoors in some linux drivers. To be 100% sure, you shouldn't use anything, ever.
"If you wanna be invisible, then just don't be"


Paranoids are still paranoids.

Paranoids may be smart, and paranoids may be foolish.


Yet, we want to get this console to be bought by both of those.


So even if we put a "nothing but say the OS not to use network" switch, that should be more than enough as long as one never finds out.
 

WizardStan

Mega GP Mania
Joined
May 24, 2008
Messages
16,733
Could the area the UMTS module sits on the board be made in a way for adding the module back on afterwards if say the consumer decides, after purchasing, 3G/4G without a USB dongle is what they'd rather have?
I've been asking this several times. ED has yet to comment. :(
 

Grench

Forum Addict!
Joined
Oct 3, 2008
Messages
6,620
Really - what is the root of the paranoia?

Connect the device to WiFi - generally traceable via ISP.

Connect the device to WAN - definitely traceable by GPS and antenna.

There is no such thing as an 'anonymous' data connection. Not saying it's right or wrong - just a fact. Yes, you can use an encrypted path to a server that bounces your direct page query to an anonymous server, but the actual connection of your device to the internet is never truly anonymous - all connected devices leave a trace somewhere.

So - the concern must be whether the device is traceable when 'not connected' - and knowing 100% that it is not connected. Advantages to this would be preventing location association links (two or more devices in proximity) and general location and route traces.

The module generates an electrical signal to excite an antenna. Without the antenna the signal would be dramatically attenuated - to the point where signal distance would be measured in cm instead of km. It is likely a relatively low voltage signal.

How about a GPIO controlled antenna disconnect? If the module self-powers for some nefarious purpose, 'the man' would need to be standing next to you with an antenna pointed at your pocket to pick up the signal.

No reboot needed - as far as the module knows it's 'situation normal' - it simply can't find anything to talk to.
 

Askarus

Hardcore Member
Joined
Sep 28, 2011
Messages
4,509
Location
Germany
All this paranoia is not worth wasting gta04's time on. If you don't trust the hardware and/or software, you should just not buy/use it.
Somehow I feel he's the only realistic person here.

A software switch that can turn the module off is enough.

No extra costs, no extra switch that can break.
 

Granitehead

Advanced Member
Joined
Oct 16, 2009
Messages
3,011
How about a GPIO controlled antenna disconnect? If the module self-powers for some nefarious purpose, 'the man' would need to be standing next to you with an antenna pointed at your pocket to pick up the signal.

No reboot needed - as far as the module knows it's 'situation normal' - it simply can't find anything to talk to.
That's something to be looked at.I'm not sure whether an electronic switch to do that would be expensive, but it would probably need to carry less current, wouldn't it?

Personally, I trust the module. But if there is a $3 way to satisfy the very paranoid ones too, then I would go for it.
 

comradekingu

Glowing ember
Joined
Apr 15, 2011
Messages
5,061
Website
portfolio.anotheragency.no
Worrying about 3g modems being off or on, even ones that are standalone, is warranted. Triangulization is real, records are real, patterns are kept.

Connecting them to anything, a base platform that may be comprimized, is also a honest concern.

Also, security does not stop at the OS level, you can encrypt your information further, and towards the internet the same holds true.

Saying "dont get a 3g modem" and "dont connect to the internet" as means of security is a fundementally flawed view.

As described in game theory, trust in trust is also a flawed perception.

The extention of which is as surreal as the premise is ignorant.

Just as implementing surefire ways of telling that there isnt anything going on, beyond removing the battery, isnt really feasible, nor very fruitful.

To make an informed analysis, i think if you were to discard both OS security, encryption layers on and off, and specialize it enough to turn off Leds and AT command outputs, you are looking at an attack vector

for which getting a 3g modem is just the wrong approach for.

Lets not forget that these people exist, and the people who want their data also do. Which one you side with is largely irrelevant, i want my anonymity because that is mine to begin with.

In between there is a whole heap of marketing and bullshit i just dont want to deal with, so at any level, the bulk of everyone is a target for malice.

Trivial data doesnt exist, it can always be combined with other "trivial" things to produce worrying results. The full implications of this are bad enough, and will only get worse.

I like the 0 ohm smd resistor on the modem power line because then you can implement a switch if need be, that goes a long way.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Granitehead

Advanced Member
Joined
Oct 16, 2009
Messages
3,011
"don't connect to the internet" is actually the only way to be sure no information gets out, but you would also need to make sure to disable stuff like Bluetooth because after all every other Bluetooth device near you could be compromised and then you would be connected anyway.

If we have a hardware off switch, then someone could boot read-only images (with no consistent data) and reboot between no-internet->secure sessions and internet-public/snooped sessions.

But that would be a pain in the ass.

And security can stop at the OS level insofar as you are fucked if the OS is compromised. In principle it's like this: Hardware<Software, Low-Level<High-Level, so SoC<Processor<Linux<Gnu<normal user programs (incomplete list, of course). If a level is compromised all higher levels are compromised too, but not necessarily something on the same or lower level.
 

comradekingu

Glowing ember
Joined
Apr 15, 2011
Messages
5,061
Website
portfolio.anotheragency.no
Doing the best of everything, and having galvanic seperations between every step of the OSI model is good. It might be theoretically impossible, but the winning move then becomes as good as possible within limits of reason.

Shipping a non-integrated (into SoC) modem and a 0ohm smd resistor on the power line is about as much anyone could ask for considering this is an internal modem which is also optional.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

_jr_

Advanced Member
Joined
May 5, 2013
Messages
1,170
But as Grench said, for many it is not about what can be transmitted by a compromised system, but simply about being definitely in control of when to be traceable by cell towers. This data is automatically gathered and stored for some not so short amount of time and readily available to the police and other organizations. No compromised system or directed attack is neccessary to become a target (which from experience is unpleasant even if innocent).


For me the LED idea would be great, I like status leds, though I probably wouldn't take the modem, since a phone is still more portable and the Pyra will become even heavier (at least with the larger battery).
 

comradekingu

Glowing ember
Joined
Apr 15, 2011
Messages
5,061
Website
portfolio.anotheragency.no
I somehow think there are more people who when using their modem do not want to have to have a led on.

So their soldering it off is greater than someone else soldering a switch on.

Meanwhile, for the latter, all LEDs stay user controlled, which is a bonus for all.

I dont understand what someone can do with AT commands when not also having control of the system, which is what matters anyway.

What is it that is so broken by design you need a hardwired led to monitor it?

Its a very sub-par/too late way of twarting what is an eleborate attack, no?

I understand the definate nature of a LED, but at the same time its a definite downfall for anyone annoyed by the light beeing on.

The switch makes sense, but thats not a feasible option to implement.

Who is not content with 0 ohm resistor for an option they can opt in on?
 
Last edited by a moderator:

WizardStan

Mega GP Mania
Joined
May 24, 2008
Messages
16,733
For me the LED idea would be great
But is it necessary for it to be hardwired to the power line so that it will always and forever turn on when in use (assuming you trust Michael and Nikolaus) with no way to compromise it (short of physically cutting it)? Or do you trust the OS enough that if you tell it to turn on an LED when the module powers up?
Who is not content with 0 ohm resistor for an option they can opt in on?
I would not have a problem with it but I want people to understand what they're getting into if they do think it's a good idea. You would not be able to replace it with just any old switch, it is there for you to cut and then resolder as needed.
 

ZetaNeta

Still Fresh
Joined
Feb 27, 2014
Messages
173
#5: Short it

Pro #1: Free! Its free!


Pro #2: Most secure solution ever.


Pro #3: You can use it for about ANY function in the Pyra. Wifi, Led, BT, LCD... you name it!


Pro #4: Backwards compatible to OpenPandora


Pro #5: Proper implementation saves the battery.


Pro #6: Takes up almost no space!


Con #1: Unless the contacts are available from outside, you need to take the console apart.


Con #2: F*cked if all we got is BGAs soldered around and not a single contact.


Con #3: Shorting the power on the 3G may burn the rest... but that never happened on any device i been "shorting" unneeded functionality out from.


Con #4: Choose: Soldering iron and a wire or a chewing gum with a paperclip?
Please add me to the main post.
Again wanna remind every paranoid out there, that if you paranoia is "so serious" that you cant even trust a OS, you always can short the 3G module.


All we need is that the contacts are available, and are not hidden anywhere seriously.


Finally, if you don't wanna go that deep, i still can purpose a low-cost and almost non-mechanical way:


Make 2 terminals for both - and + of the 3g module power available from outside of the console, with a small tiny, vertical hole between the 2. (Inside, the hole is round).


With the Pyra, you will get a tiny bit which you "insert and turn till it clicks", which will short the 2 terminals together, making sure whatever is there, its no longer powered.


As i know posts with pictures are much more popular :3333:



(Public Domain image)


"normal human beings" can either forget it at hole, either just throw it away


while paranoids can have this thing together, and if they really "care" they will keep it safe.


As well as if you lose/break/forget it, a drop of solder, or anything else can easily switch off the 3g modem if you really need to.


To "complaints about them metal keys in the pockets" which i predict:


1) Do you actually care if its in you pocket and you don't use it anyway?


2) If properly done, you key should be "specially made" to short those 2 by accident.


I dont pretend my idea is genius, but i want it considered.


PS: I just realized i reinvented a wheel hardware switch..... But still... think about it.


PPS: If you find repeating lines in what i wrote, its my editor which was messed up restoring the post.
 

Granitehead

Advanced Member
Joined
Oct 16, 2009
Messages
3,011
I still don't quite get what you want to do. Short pins to destroy a $100 module you had to pay extra for?

And if you short the power lines you'll just empty (and possibly damage/destroy) the battery.
 

WizardStan

Mega GP Mania
Joined
May 24, 2008
Messages
16,733
Again wanna remind every paranoid out there, that if you paranoia is "so serious" that you cant even trust a OS, you always can short the 3G module.
Again, want to remind you that it's an optional feature that you're paying for.
 
Top