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Battery-Powered Transmitter Could Crash A City's 4G Network

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the new-york-must-have-a-lot-of-these dept.

Network 121

DavidGilbert99 writes "With a £400 transmitter, a laptop and a little knowledge you could bring down an entire city's high-speed 4G network. This information comes from research carried out in the U.S. into the possibility of using LTE networks as the basis for a next-generation emergency response communications system. Jeff Reed, director of the wireless research group at Virginia Tech, along with research assistant Marc Lichtman, described the vulnerabilities to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which advises the White House on telecom and information policy. 'If LTE technology is to be used for the air interface of the public safety network, then we should consider the types of jamming attacks that could occur five or ten years from now (PDF). It is very possible for radio jamming to accompany a terrorist attack, for the purpose of preventing communications and increasing destruction,' Reed said."

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Yes, but think of the Lulz! (-1, Offtopic)

bit trollent (824666) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983393)

This is first post, on an epic scale.

Re:Yes, but think of the Lulz! (3, Informative)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984703)

Interestingly, I found and reported a similar vulnerability in the P25 radio system about six years ago.

Nothing's happened. You can jam all the first responder radios in a city with a very small amount of hardware and a copy of the protocol.

This already exists in the wild (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983403)

AT+T has apparently been using this for months, in almost every major city

Re:This already exists in the wild (4, Funny)

game kid (805301) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983991)

Thank you for your concern. At at&t(R), our commitment(tm) to rebuilding the nation's largest 4G network this year with your input [slashdot.org] has not wavered. However, our cozy government relationship requires us to install multiple backdoors [wikipedia.org] , electronic and otherwise, and our Security budget was beginning to cut into our Invite Government Representatives Into Boardroom For Lobbying And Slash Or Trophywife Swapping budget.

As such, we have decided to retain the mandatory backdoors but leave them open to these minor vulnerabilities. The occasional permanent loss of an antenna, your Facebook account's integrity, or that one guy in Customer Service who decides to blow a whistle on us does not preclude your required payment of the 2012 Nation's Largest 4G Network Improvements Fee, or the upcoming 2013 Nation's Largest 4G Network Improvements Fee (which we hereby announce in this sentence, as double the 2012 version in all cases), even though both would be entirely too small to buy such high-value targets and high-class lays in such high volume.

Thank you again for choosing at&t(R), now with the nation's tallest paperweights. Like us on Facebook [facebook.com] , follow us on Twitter [twitter.com] , or let us track you to your house through any other method imaginable [att.com] .

Invasion! (2, Funny)

jdkc4d (659944) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983411)

A communications disruption can only mean one thing...

Re:Invasion! (3, Funny)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983691)

There's another shitty movie on the way and Disney don't want word of mouth spreading?

Word up, Dr. Reed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983443)

I love it when one of my graduate advisors gets mentioned on the front page of Slashdot!

For how long though? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983445)

Wouldn't the source of the jamming be tracked down and eliminated fairly quickly?

Re:For how long though? (5, Interesting)

magic maverick (2615475) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983551)

Hope in a taxi or bus, drive around, turn off transmitter, walk some way, hope on another bus, turn it on again, turn it off again. Basically keep moving, make the movement sufficiently random, any you won't get caught. OK, a car battery is a bit heavy, but it's not that heavy that you can't carry it around on your lap.

Regarding the "oh noz terrorists", not everything has to be linked to terrorists, isn't it more likely that in the event of a "terrorist" attack, the system would be brought down by people just trying to call the emergency number or friends and family? And anyway, haven't I read about various authorities around the world wanting a switch to turn off the phone networks in the event of a terrorist attack?

So when the "terrorists" do it, it's bad, but when the authorities do it, it's just fine...

Re:For how long though? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983715)

because "zomg terrorism" is one of the straw men du jour


--
posting ac due to mod points

Re:For how long though? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983783)

Du jour is a little bit short. It's been a hot issue since the 1990s.

Re:For how long though? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983779)

You could probably also get away with playing little tricks with duty-cycle or directional antennas, especially if "you" consists of more than one transmitter with some overlap in range.

Pure data links, with error correction, retries, and so on, might only be slowed by intermittent jamming; but somebody attempting to run a time-sensitive application(like, oh, a simulation of a classic two-way radio) could have a much harder time of it even if only intermittently jammed...
 
  Tracking down a jammer that cuts in and out, or unpredictably changes how intensely it radiates in different directions, would be more difficult; but could still reduce throughput and really put a wrench into latency and packet loss numbers.

Re:For how long though? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983943)

Car battery? Grab one of them Li-ion battery packs.

Multiple times the capacity of a car battery, and can fit in a shirt pocket.

Re:For how long though? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41984455)

Regarding the "oh noz terrorists", not everything has to be linked to terrorists

It does if you want government funding and fast-track approval through the red tape of laws and other annoying bureaucratic obstacles.

Re:For how long though? (1)

MrQuacker (1938262) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984625)

There are special issue government sim cards and phone numbers that get top priority and skip the cell queue. So even if the tower is "jammed" by people calling, those phones get priority and still get through. So important communication still happens.

But by jamming the tower, none of that works.

Re:For how long though? (2)

adolf (21054) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984857)

There are special issue government sim cards and phone numbers that get top priority and skip the cell queue. So even if the tower is "jammed" by people calling, those phones get priority and still get through. So important communication still happens.

Likewise, for emergency calls from consumer phones: Dialing 911 (or the local equivalent) skips all queues, and will forcibly drop other (non-emergency) calls if it must.

But by jamming the tower, none of that works.

Indeed. And it has been that case for as long as radio has been radio, and will continue to be that way forever. *yawn*

Re:For how long though? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984813)

And anyway, haven't I read about various authorities around the world wanting a switch to turn off the phone networks in the event of a terrorist attack?

You're right, I saw it on Die Hard. However you don't need any jamming equipment, all you need to do is put on a suit and yell at the nearest linesman.

Re:For how long though? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41985001)

Grab a dozen and duct tape them to bus / taxi

Label them 1 to 13 but dont include a 5.

Re:For how long though? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983581)

Imagine at 9/11, the terrorists would have put 100 transmitters at different places in New York (to be had for just £40.000, a bit more than $63.000, certainly affordable for a larger terror organization), which started jamming at the time of the attack. How long do you think it takes to find the 100 jamming devices, if you don't have an idea how many there are, and you can't communicate about it? And remember, until every single of them has been found, communications doesn't work.

Re:For how long though? (1)

drakaan (688386) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983777)

If they're broadcasting on a known frequency, then not long.

Radio frequency direction finding equipment is not new, nor is it's use in a military capacity. Ask someone ex-Army who used to have a 98 or 33 as the first two digits of their MOS...(former 33T speaking)

Re:For how long though? (1)

postbigbang (761081) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984025)

I'll imagine that LTE freqs won't the the only one being jammed if something actually does happen. Doesn't take much to do jamming effectively, and only broad frequency-hopping stuff is truly immune.

Oh, wait.....

Re:For how long though? (1)

drakaan (688386) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984345)

I'm unclear on what you're getting at, exactly...

Re:For how long though? (1)

postbigbang (761081) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984565)

Upthread, it was posited that if you brought down LTE, you might bring down public safety response as well. Many units use freq-hopping devices that are somewhat immune to specific (or many) channel jamming. Although there is a bit of this in LTE, the attacks purported are more infrastructure attacks than broad-spectra/channel-specific attacks. The infrastructure melts, metaphorically speaking.

With FSK radios, attacking the radio is useless, unless you attack all of the F(reqs) used by the FSK radios. You can slow them down, but like Bluetooth, they're tough to stop.

If you get LTE connects, you can do an attack that looks like a TCP SYN attack, creating sessions until none are available, unless there is a defense against the TTL life of the TCP connect. This is an infrastructure attack (one of several theoretically possible). If you think like a DDoS artist does, the rest is simple. But I'm not going to teach you. And I'm purposefully omitting specific details.

Re:For how long though? (1)

drakaan (688386) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984873)

Ahh...I understand now...you were criticizing the proposed attack, rather than how to find the transmitters that would be required to carry it out.

You could take out a very complex freq-hopping transmission tower by doing some simple multiplexed transmission with a directional antenna (several per tower, as someone pointed out down thread)...don't have to time-sync if you're not trying to establish communications, just need a strong enough signal.

Re:For how long though? (1)

postbigbang (761081) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984909)

Why waste power? There are good defenses. But......

Re:For how long though? (4, Interesting)

houghi (78078) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984027)

If you are a terrorist, it would not matter. Even if they were all 100 found within 1 hour and deactivated, the real result would be delivered by the media. Can you imagine the headlines if such a thing would happen?

13 guys with box cutters saw to it that we can not take a nail-clipper onto a plane. The result of their action is that laws have been created that limit everybodyâ(TM)s rights all over the world.

The fear the media would create is so much more then what the terrerists could do themselves. Fear nothing but fear itself and that is what will be crated: fear.

Re:For how long though? (1)

RatherBeAnonymous (1812866) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984047)

If I were a terrorist intent on disrupting the network, I'd place directional antennas on rooftops and pointed them at the cell towers. They wouldn't have to jam every cell phone, just the cell towers' reception. That should take a lot longer to trace. It would come down to how leaky the jammers' antennae are and how sensitive the detection equipment is.

Even so, the jamming does not have to last long to cause big problems. Just half an hour coordinated with a major event would make it tough on the first responders.

Re:For how long though? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41984125)

don't forget, each base station had 3 sectors, so you would need 3 jammers per base station, located in the sector's angle of coverage (120 degrees per sector)

Re:For how long though? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984541)

Try that when the jammers include rotating high-gain antennas or randomly variable transmission power. Yes, you can still do it, but if you try to tell me it's an easy task I'll tell you you're lying.

Re:For how long though? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983919)

The 9/11 attackers didn't need to spend a dime to effectively jam communication systems. We did it for them for free.

Communication During the September 11 Attacks [wikipedia.org]

Re:For how long though? (1)

Amouth (879122) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984219)

But also given how the landscape shapes radio transmissions, it would be a good exercise to find one, but for every unit overlapping it would become much more difficult to isolate and locate, and god forbid anyone get creative with it.

Re:For how long though? (1)

morgauxo (974071) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984247)

Put it on a weather balloon without quite enough helium to get to it's bursting altitude. Or.. put them on a dozen balloons. I suppose they would be found and shot down... eventually...

Smoke Signals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983453)

That's why I use smoke signals.

Re:Smoke Signals (2)

anubi (640541) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984371)

Ham Radio. 6146. Morse code.

Not far behind 'ya!

First (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983457)

First

Re:First (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983897)

First fail more like it, amirite?

radio head (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983459)

what about my martian friends that use 3.9ghz will they get blocked?

What's the point? (5, Informative)

rabtech (223758) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983489)

What's the point here? You can do the same thing with all the proprietary public safety network gear various vendors are peddling - they are mostly hilariously insecure. Or if you have a portable generator, just flood the public safety band with interference. It accomplishes the same thing.

The article claims older 3G and 2G networks would still work if LTE were jammed but that's completely false. There are a ton of ways to jam those by using fake femtocell pilot signals or otherwise interfering with synchronization signals.

In fact the MIMO technology of LTE could make it slightly harder to jam if the base stations are properly filtering stray signals. Use car-mounted MIMO for the user-side and you would get something way better than any of the existing systems at resisting interference.

Re:What's the point? (1)

arth1 (260657) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983573)

What I want to know is whether this will take out 4G, as the first link states, or is limited to LTE, which the rest of the submission talks about.

4G LTE != 4G

Re:What's the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983969)

do you see people walking around with wimax phones? of course it's just referring to LTE.

Re:What's the point? (1)

arth1 (260657) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984431)

do you see people walking around with wimax phones? of course it's just referring to LTE.

(WiMax isn't 4G either. At least now. Anyhow...)
What's on the streets now is already outdated from a theoretical point of view, and does not preclude vulnerabilities from being found in what isn't on the streets - what will be there in the future matters even more, and is, I would think, even more of interest to researchers and nerds.

And Moscow already has true 4G, several Scandinavian cities are about to get it, and it may come the US too one day. (And I predict Verizon and T-Mobile first, the rest later, due to the hard requirement of IPv6)

Mod parent up. (3, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983735)

I don't know what the line:

With a £400 transmitter, a laptop and a little knowledge you could bring down an entire city's high-speed 4G network.

came from but it is 100% false (unless you are talking about a very, very small "city".

This "attack" is just broadcasting noise and messing with communication protocols. So the range is limited to the coverage area of the transmitter. Including dead zones where there is too much concrete and steel for the transmitter to get through.

So you should see the same pattern for blocking as you do for regular access. With a similar requirement for blocking as for coverage.

Re:Mod parent up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41984021)

it was an incorrect reference. the original article only mentions taking out 1 base station with that much money and gear, not a whole city.

Re:Mod parent up. (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984373)

I can take out a base station with a pair of bolt cutters.
I can also re use said bolt cutters to take out other base stations.

Re:Mod parent up. (1)

smpoole7 (1467717) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984137)

> 100% false (unless you are talking about a very, very small "city".

And don't forget antenna location. As a general rule, higher is better. If you're trying to jam an entire city from a car in the street, you'd have to radiate so much power that your alternator would whine and your brain would become ... warm. :)

Be better from the top of tall building, but now you can easily be located and dealt with. Unless you're spiderman and can leap from one building to the next, that is. Or, you don't think anyone would notice you hauling a bunch of weird-looking stuff onto the roof of a building.

This article is another one of the silly "what ifs" under the general heading of, "hey, let's scare ourselves to death about something new!" (It's not even new; jamming has been around almost as long as radio has.)

Radiated power follows an inverse square law (it drops off by the square of the distance), and higher frequencies like those used in wireless phones and routers can be blocked by walls, trees, you name it. You're gonna need a lot of power and you'll need to be well above the average terrain for this to work. Not saying it can't be done, but there are easier ways to be a butthead if you're that determined.

Re:What's the point? (1)

jittles (1613415) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984043)

I think most large emergency response teams now use an encrypted radio w/ hopsets configured. Like the military gear, it jumps channels very rapidly. It makes the signal very difficult to jam. You would have to block out a wide swath of frequency to do so effectively. I know that major cities in California started making the switch back in 2005. I would expect any major city in the US to have already switched by now.

You can probably bring down WiFi network too (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983499)

Transmitting some random packets with the WiFi card.
There are many things you can do on the low level link.

Certainly, when in some hotel there is the paywalled internet asking for like $20/day, it is possible to sniff the traffic, find some MAC address that paid, and pretend to be him/her. There is nothing that could be done to prevent such hacks. Not that I recommend doing this. Please don't do this, this is illegal. I am just saying this is possible.

Re:You can probably bring down WiFi network too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983665)

The level of illegality of MAC spoofing for would, I presume, vary by jurisdiction.

As for the paywalled internet, of course there's something that could be done. The operator could run a VPN on the hotel network, and each guest who pays gets his/her own login credentials. The poor security on many hotel networks could be fixed, if they really cared.

Re:You can probably bring down WiFi network too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983809)

But this will complicate this process so much that the average Joe won't be able to use it. So it makes such idea impractical.

Re:You can probably bring down WiFi network too (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984051)

The level of network knowledge in the general population is pretty low too, so its not like more than a small fraction of guests would even know where to begin. As such, the hotel has very little reason to worry about it, unless it causes a problem for the paying guest. (which I imagine this would? Never played with duplicate MACs on a wifi network)

Overall, I would imagine that, unless you do something that gets their attention (like stopping other guests access from working) they have little incentive to care that much or even look for "cheaters" since the cost of doing so could easily outweigh the benefit.

ditto for VPN, which then has to be explained to guests and means troubleshooting it for them. They would probably be better served by making it open access than really tightening it down.

Re:You can probably bring down WiFi network too (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984197)

MAC spoofing to get through a paywall would be an illegally accessing a computer system. That's a pretty hefty crime in most developed countries.

Re:You can probably bring down WiFi network too (1)

RatherBeAnonymous (1812866) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984201)

The level of illegality of MAC spoofing for would, I presume, vary by jurisdiction.

If it is a network where you were supposed to pay for access, then this would probably full under "unauthorized access".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legality_of_piggybacking [wikipedia.org]

Re:You can probably bring down WiFi network too (1)

dnahelicase (1594971) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984105)

When I was in college and wifi routers were just getting to the point where they were affordable enough for a regular person to buy, whole dorms would go out when people switched the WAN/LAN connections. Campus didn't have wireless yet, and the IT guys would get all upset and start going from room to room trying to find who had the mis-installed routers. Happened after every break.

Ham Radio Baby!!! (2)

bobthesungeek76036 (2697689) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983501)

Got several amateur radios in my truck so no cell towers needed.

Re:Ham Radio Baby!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983697)

Got several amateur radios in my truck so no cell towers needed.

At least you have two, so there will be another radio to pick up your broadcast.

Re:Ham Radio Baby!!! (3, Informative)

ATestR (1060586) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983869)

More than two! Latest estimates that I've heard are that there are 600,000+ Hams in the US.

Re:Ham Radio Baby!!! (3, Interesting)

dnahelicase (1594971) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984033)

More than two! Latest estimates that I've heard are that there are 600,000+ Hams in the US.

If you follow the news during any one of the big disasters in the past few years, it seems that Hams are the only ones that consistently are organized, prepared, and react immediately.

Traffic lights (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983503)

Imagine blocking all traffic lights so nobody can see if they are red and green, and see what happens to the traffic.

Actually if I were a bad guy I would turn all lights green instead of disabling them... there'd be a crash at every intersection!

Re:Traffic lights (1)

vlm (69642) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983811)

Traditionally (depends on where you live) turning on the green throws a relay shorting the filament on the opposite green. So if you try two greens at once, it blows the fuse/circuit breaker, because fuses don't like short circuits. This is tricky and your timer needs at least a fraction of a second of dead time where its red all around.

Another fun way to wire it up, is 240v with 120 lamps, hot, to green light, to the red and yellow opposite, and from either red or yellow to neutral. This makes the midnight flashing red complicated to nearly impossible to wire up. Also if you're dumb enough to mix the wiring scheme here with the scheme above, if you manage to activate both greens then you blow the yellow / red bulbs out star trek style (usually no fire, but 120 bulbs are very bright on 240 volts for a zillionth of a second...)

Usually you end up with a mix of safety designs, where some things won't power up unless activated correctly and others will blow a breaker if activated incorrectly.

Its possible to wire non-failsafe, or purely software, but usually not done.

Re:Traffic lights (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984279)

Damn those completely sealed units in my city full of LED's. You'd have to break into the control box, which would probably trigger a tamper switch.

Re:Traffic lights (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983815)

Imagine blocking all traffic lights so nobody can see if they are red and green, and see what happens to the traffic.

Actually if I were a bad guy I would turn all lights green instead of disabling them... there'd be a crash at every intersection!

Where I live, just turning the lights off (or switching to flashing red) works just the same.

Happens every time a storm rolls through. I'd find it funny if I didn't have to share the road with idiots.

Police Box (1)

doconnor (134648) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983509)

I guess the only solution to wireless signal jamming is to go back in time and start using Police Boxes [wikipedia.org] , again.

Re:Police Box (3, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983537)

Hardlined police boxes with a wireless AP would make for a vastly more robust network than using the commercial LTE towers.
Sometimes the old ways are best.

Re:Police Box (3, Funny)

Jason Levine (196982) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983671)

But would those police boxes be bigger on the inside?

Entire City? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983555)

TFA says "miles", then goes on with conjecture that a car mounted rig could be worse.

Bear in mind that networks are actually pretty rugged, despite the articles fear mongering. Bad channels get re-assigned automatically, antennas are pretty directional, making it hard to take out more than a small portion of a base station at any one time. Base stations have overlapping coverage (for handoff, multipathing, etc), which means that even if you take out one band for one sector of one base station using a jammer, that channel and cell site quite likely can be covered by the next adjacent cell sites from a different angle.

TFA is mostly baseless non-sense.

Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983669)

The Bat Signal!

Sprint is impervious to this type of attack (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983745)

The 4G service they offer isn't really there! Brilliant!

Re:Sprint is impervious to this type of attack (1)

afidel (530433) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984407)

Huh? Sprint had the first 4G network with WiMax and is currently in the process of rolling out LTE. By the end of 2014 everywhere that currently has Sprint 3G service will have LTE coverage and most towers will have fiber backhauls which is significantly more ambitious than the big 2.

Improperly tuned repeaters (1)

LoudMusic (199347) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983763)

I do IT on yachts and heard a story of a yacht that had cell repeaters on board. The installation company had the power cranked all the way to 11 and knocked an entire coastal town's cell service out while they were in port. Vodafone politely asked them to turn that shit off.

At a wireless training session with one of our vendors they said that the US navy aircraft carriers jam all radio transmissions when they enter port. That sounds like a bit of a frustration.

Re:Improperly tuned repeaters (2)

AwesomeMcgee (2437070) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984005)

Vodafone politely asked them to turn that shit off.

...which wasn't hard to do because all vodafone had to do was call anyone in that town and it rang straight to the yacht...

rooted phones illegal in 5..4.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983819)

Because rather then fix the problem in the system its self, they will just ban the 'small radio transmitter' that is under your control.

Re:rooted phones illegal in 5..4.. (2)

WaffleMonster (969671) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984359)

Because rather then fix the problem in the system its self, they will just ban the 'small radio transmitter' that is under your control.

A rooted phone does not translate into access to the baseband processor. :(

Re:rooted phones illegal in 5..4.. (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984361)

Fat lot of good that will do. This attack wasn't (and probably can't be) done using a cellphone
They used one of these https://www.ettus.com/product/details/UB100-KIT [ettus.com]

What about other radio networks? (1)

davidwr (791652) | about a year and a half ago | (#41983861)

Can I^Han adversary jam first-responder and other emergency radio networks this easily?

What about the "if all else fails" ham-radio networks? Imagine if the aliens in Independence Day had jammed the entire usable radio spectrum. No more more-code-gets-the-word-out moving ending.

Fine by me. I hate handhelds (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983863)

I've never liked portable wireless handheld computers such as the iPhone and Android devices. Every time I'd try to hang out with my friends, half of them are too busy fidgeting with their phones to just relax and enjoy their beers, shoot pool, or just generally be face-to-face social. The world will be a better place without these 4G networks being available. I swear, humanity is doomed. People are gonna watch their entire lives go by sitting and staring at the palm of their hand!

Re:Fine by me. I hate handhelds (1)

AwesomeMcgee (2437070) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984041)

People are gonna watch their entire lives go by sitting and staring at the palm of their hand!

That sounds pretty retarded, hand's get terrible wifi reception.

Re:Fine by me. I hate handhelds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41984049)

...I swear, humanity is doomed. People are gonna watch their entire lives go by sitting and staring at the palm of their hand!

That's my girlfriend, you insensitive clod!

They already exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41983975)

Such a device already exists and has plagued cellular networks for years - it is called the iPhone. ;)

T-mobile 4G orgy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41984127)

Every time I hear the t-mobile chick say "my touch 4G" I keep hearing orgy.

I know this is slightly offtopic but I would really like to know if anyone else is having the same problems with 4G vs Orgy.

Does voice recognition software used in mobile devices suffer from this problem or is it just me? Are other phrases such as "Our prices are sofa king low" misrecognized as well?

Re:T-mobile 4G orgy (1)

arkane1234 (457605) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984469)

WTF is Orgy other than some band, or a lot of people having some evening fun together?

This is such patent bullshit... (1)

clonehappy (655530) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984211)

You can jam radio frequency communications with a sufficiently powerful and/or noisy signal on the same frequency? Who would have thought? I realize that the article is more about LTE's weaknesses, but trying to play it off as some national security weakness is total fearmongering. Even if LTE is inherently weak against jamming attacks (which is probably by design for the "authorities" to shut it off as they please), so what if one idiot can jam one cell site? (which is what the article really says if you read it) That's really not the end of the world. And what if he moves around all over the city? The outage follows him from cell to cell, but the others still continue to operate normally. And I could do the same with 1G, 2G, or 3G given a noisy enough or powerful enough signal on the same frequency. And why the hell would first responders/emergency workers be using LTE for anything critical, anyway? They have their own private trunked digital systems to use (that can also be jammed if one was so inclined to do). So, that being said, can a "Battery Powered Transmitter Crash a City's 4G Network?" Absolutely, if the city has only one 4G cell site in the city.

Re:This is such patent bullshit... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41984433)

And why the hell would first responders/emergency workers be using LTE for anything critical, anyway?

Actually, they ARE going to be using LTE for public safety. The next generation public safety network (which may be used for decades) is going to use LTE on the public safety bands. The whole point of this article was to raise awareness and add some jamming mitigation before it gets put into the public safety network.

Re:This is such patent bullshit... (2)

clonehappy (655530) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984919)

I don't doubt that they are planning to use LTE for public safety, I just question why they would *want* to use LTE for public safety. It's super-fast, but that's where the benefits end from what I've seen. It seems to have mediocre propagation characteristics even at low frequencies, every LTE device I've ever seen will intermittently drop the connection then take a few minutes to restart it, and does indeed seem to have issues with interference in addition to questionable performance in situations with poor signal strength.

Any public safety network (in addition to using not-ready-for-primetime air interfaces such as LTE) should have some kind of analog or failsafe digital fallback mode that uses more robust, rudimentary protocols to fend off attacks such as these, be they intentional or accidental. At any rate, this really should be a non-issue as the number of base stations needed to provide wall to wall LTE service in a city will mitigate this specific attack pretty well.

Communication is Always a Problem (2)

superid (46543) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984257)

I hate to say it but 4G for an emergency network is just a money sink. I hate to have a defeatist attitude but at least in my small new england town this would be a complete waste of time and money and effort. We have no unified dispatch system. All land line 911 calls go to police. If you want Fire or Ambulance it's transferred to the Fire department, who then transfers medical calls to the ambulance. If you call from a cell phone it goes to the state police regional office first, then to the local state police barracks, then to town police, etc. Police and fire are on separate frequencies. ICS is a joke and never implemented. EMA is run with all donated equipment and goodwill of Ham operators. Better than nothing? certainly but not by much. I put an IP camera onto their EMA vehicle, punched a hole in their firewall and the chiefs were able to view the scene and control the camera from the EOC. It took me 10 minutes but it was like the natives seeing an airplane. The average Police/fire/EMA chief is 50+ years old and typically holds a grease pencil, not an iPad.

Example, there was a mill fire in the neighboring city. Multiple towns responded. No ICS, no communication plan, everyone on one channel walking all over each other. There is no way any of these communities could implement, monitor or effectively use a 4G solution.

Re:Communication is Always a Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41984379)

4G has too many points of failure to be relied on in an emergency.

Re:Communication is Always a Problem (1)

kamapuaa (555446) | about a year and a half ago | (#41985043)

Presumably 4G emergency networks would not be installed in one-horse towns. Duh.

Re:Communication is Always a Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41985589)

It would be pitched as the way forward for everyone everywhere. Duh.

What 4G network? (1)

guano79 (2740675) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984349)

Thank God there's no real 4G yet ;-)

it would be more fun (1)

Adam Appel (1991764) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984391)

Far more fun and a better use of money to disable the police band. Every easy in the US for police departments that do not encrypt their communications.

We need alternatives that can't be jammed (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984463)

I want loud drums in Morse Code!

Not accompany a terrorist attack, be one (1)

holophrastic (221104) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984723)

You're looking at it all wrong. Terrorists needn't go through the effort of attacking a military might at all. Just take down all communications in a city, and watch the mayhem.

Aside from huge inconvenience, and a whopping expense to resolve the problems, there's so much more. Businesses stop working. Security alarms stop working -- which doesn't matter because the traffic alone will stop any timely response. Here comes the looting, followed closely by the rioting.

It's not the end of the world, and it'll all get resolved in a day or two; but that's a day or two of mayhem, followed by a couple weeks of clean-up. And it all cost $500 to the terrorist -- which can just as easily be a local. Or worse, a local with an imported cellphone, who doesn't know that he's the one causing the mayhem.

And it can be a monthly occurance.

And it can be in ten cities at the same time.

Why oh why would you exchange hard-wired security for wireless broadcast? Dude, convenience is the antithesis of security.

Re:Not accompany a terrorist attack, be one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41984829)

Electronic warfare (jamming) is going to be the next "cyber security"... Hackers in a city will move from their keyboard to their rooftop. We need the DoD to take a small portion of cyber security research funding and put it towards stuff like this.

Re:Not accompany a terrorist attack, be one (1)

volxdragon (1297215) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984981)

Don't take down comms, take down power in a way that doesn't allow it to come back up quickly/cleanly and then you will see the real carnage. Just look at NYC for an idea of what can happen...

Re:Not accompany a terrorist attack, be one (1)

clonehappy (655530) | about a year and a half ago | (#41985091)

It's not the end of the world, and it'll all get resolved in a day or two; but that's a day or two of mayhem, followed by a couple weeks of clean-up. And it all cost $500 to the terrorist -- which can just as easily be a local. Or worse, a local with an imported cellphone, who doesn't know that he's the one causing the mayhem.

Dude, you can't take down an entire city's communication network with a $500 box or a screwed-up handset. You could jam one cell site, at best. Probably only one sector of one cell site, though. On one carrier. Stop spreading this FUD and bullshit.

In the scenario described in TFA, landlines would still work, 2G would still work, 3G would still work, 4G LTE data might be down on one carrier (in the geographic area covered by one sector of one cell site), but the other carriers and every other sector on the given site will probably still be working. Not to mention every other cell site in the city (most large cities have hundreds or even up near a thousand per carrier) owned by the targeted carrier would still work. Police radios will still work (currently, unless they move to LTE which is completely asinine, but what the article is suggesting.) Amateur radios will still work. Walkie-talkies will still work. The internet will still work.

Please stop watching so many 2012 endoftheworldomgapocalypse movies and action thrillers. They are fiction, things are much more complicated and hard to pull off in real life. If you were transmitting a strong enough signal to jam an entire major city, you would be tracked down in about 45 seconds flat.

Life isn't as scary as the TV would have you believe.

Re:Not accompany a terrorist attack, be one (1)

holophrastic (221104) | about a year and a half ago | (#41985237)

2G, 3G, and landlines won't exist in five years.
This article talks about police radios going to lte.
No one has walkie talkies anymore.
Multiple carriers roam on eachothers' networks, and share cell sites.
One sector of one tower of one carrier is enough to cover an entire office building.
Overlapping towers can quickly become over-saturated in the absense of a single one.

You're correct that it's all FUD. But not because it can't work exactly that way. Only because terrorists are monumentally stupid and can't figure out the most basic ways of getting around security provisions.

For example, getting a device onto a plane requires going through about six layers of security. Standing on the rooftop of the airport parking lot however, watching the same plane take-off about 100 yards away, requires a $4 parking fee. Standing under the path of landing aircraft near the airport, where the plans come by 200 yards over-head, every 2 minutes for hours, requires nothing more than the cost of the helium balloon, pulling a can of red paint.

The point is always the same. If you're going to have emergency personnel using lte for communication, lte simply isn't good enough because it isn't resistant to anything..

Re:Not accompany a terrorist attack, be one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41985345)

You're statements may not hold true 5-10 years from now, when the carriers transition 2g and 3g to 4g (because it will allow them to make more money), and when land lines are rare. Also, with a well designed RF front end, a jammer could easily cover a large portion of a city (especially if the jammer is at the top of a tall building). LTE signals really arent that strong, and you can realize this when thinking about how small your phone battery is, and how long it lasts.

One overlord or another, you, personnally, welcome (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year and a half ago | (#41984887)

But government wants to shut off communications anyway to hinder coordination or remotely-detonated bombs.

So cutting off communication increases damage, as does leaving it running?

I hacked microwave oven limit a cell tower's cover (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41984965)

Hmm... a $30.00 junked microwave oven with a little help from my soldering iron can wreak havoc on cell coverage.
Just watch those dropped calls

Shut the hell up! (1)

Cyko_01 (1092499) | about a year and a half ago | (#41985019)

stop pointing out the weak spots and giving the terrorists ideas!
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