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Old 04-26-2017, 10:04 AM   #1
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Can you hear me now?

Welcome to my phreaking thread!

This will be my telecom research topic. As the world moves heavily toward mobile and the dystopian "internet of things" an important fundamental knowledge of the teleco seems like an important skill to have.

I don't consider myself to have a strong understanding of the internet, relative to a computer engineer, but my knowledge outranks a casual user by a hundred fold. This was developed due to circumstances really - trying to obtain anime in 2005+ forced you to overcome the technical limitations of the time, and so learn about things that haven't changed much since (IP networks, torrents, streaming, and so on). While this knowledge seems basic to me, surveys of other people have revealed to me that such is harder to acquire in Web 2.0.

I'm not surprised as I noticed as much in my Biology classes of the day. Early biology was experimentally determined, while later courses became more theoretical in scope. This meant that in those early courses, you dealt with simpler phenomenon as experiments need to isolate all dependent variables by design, while theoretical biology draw upon vast experimentally-derived facts to solve problems designed by instructors. The latter is easy for a graduate student who has a full spectrum knowledge of the history of biology, the experiments performed, and the facts extrapolated. It's intensely hard for students who don't have that wide knowledge base. It's like trying to enter a building from the third story rather than the ground floor.

Tangent aside, that means to me that knowledge of how telecom has evolved will be harder to come by in the future. This knowledge will become "deep" or "dark" web hacker knowledge even though it should be basic. This topic intends to document that, along with legitimate hacker/phreaking things as I delve into the mobile systems. Perhaps by the end, I will have earned the title of half-arsed "systems engineer".

This topic will be question-based and function something like a blog. I plan to make everything link-accessible so if you plan on following my guides, you'll have a set of hyperlinks at the ready.

Morg has suggested a certification path for me, and certainly that will be a goal in the future. But for now, my initial objectives will be:

1. Masking tethering so a mobile device and laptop computer are indistinguishable
2. Encrypting data so mass surveillance will not incidentally collect information on me
3. Spoofing data use patterns to avoid targeted surveillance
4. Properly configuring VPNs with multiple devices to allow for total encryption
5. Maximizing the bandwidth/dollar value of mobile internet

Let's始まる
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Old 05-05-2017, 10:59 AM   #2
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Android version market share

What % of devices run each version of Android, as of 2017? Here are the numbers provided by Google:

Gingerbread: 0.9%
Ice Cream Sandwich: 0.9%
JellyBean: 10.1%
Kitkat: 20.0%
Lolipop: 32.0%
Marshmallow: 31.2%
Nougat: 4.9%

Timeline of development:

Gingerbread: 2010-2011
Ice Cream Sandwich: 2011-2012
JellyBean: 2012-2013
Kitkat: 2013-2014
Lolipop: 2014-2016
Marshmallow: 2015-2017
Nougat: 2017+

...

Does anything stand out? A few things do to me.

1. Gingerbread/ICS were on phones that capped out with 3G support, so they're likely not being used for mobile internet much.
2. Kitkat still has a large market share despite Lolipop having a 2 year development period.
3. Nougat API reports came about mostly due to updates. Very few phones (like the S8 ) were available with Nougat installed natively.

The Kitkat statistic stands out to me. JellyBean had a number of exploits, especially in Samsung phones, that allowed for skilled hackers to game the mobile system.

1. You could install apps to an SD card with a high read/write speed, and treat it as augmented harddrive space, or use swap to treat it as virtual memory.
2. You could modify the APN settings for mobile data, along with the tethering protocol, to mask data coming from a phone and tethered from a computer, allowing for theoretically unlimited tethering via mobile.
3. You could via the MirrorLink standard, mirror your device's stream with another device through USB and bypass the need for tethering. Samsung SmartTVs, sporting an older firmware, still have this functionality with specific devices.

Google was very aggressive at killing of JellyBean, and promoted the incremental improvements of Kitkat for UI and battery life management. But JellyBean was a much more stable release than Kitkat, and Kitkat more stable than Lolipop. So over the development period from 2013-2016, you saw a lot of phones issued with either Kitkat or Lolipop, because Google was troubleshooting the problems of a wide spectrum of apps being rendered inoperable due to their more restrictive directory access permissions.

Even now, internationally, when you get something that isn't an S6/S7/S8, it's probably going to have some variant of Kitkat, and sometimes Lolipop. Marshmallow+ are close to exclusive for the Samsung Galaxy S6+ series of devices, as far as usage is concerned.
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Old 05-05-2017, 11:31 AM   #3
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Most valuable phone

What do I think the most valuable phone on earth is? Well, it isn't even close in my opinion:

Samsung Galaxy S4 (AT&T) SGH-i337, 32 GB, Android 4.2.2

Next would be:

Samsung Galaxy S4 (AT&T) SGH-i337, 16 GB, Android 4.2.2
Samsung Galaxy S4 (AT&T) SGH-i337, 32 GB, Android 4.3
Samsung Galaxy S4 (AT&T) SGH-i337, 16 GB, Android 4.3
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505, 32 GB, Android 4.2.2
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505, 16 GB, Android 4.2.2
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505, 32 GB, Android 4.3
Samsung Galaxy S4 GT-I9505, 16 GB, Android 4.3
Samsung Galaxy S4 (T-Mobile) SGH-M919, 16 GB, Android 4.2.2
Samsung Galaxy S4 (T-Mobile) SGH-M919, 16 GB, Android 4.3

Why the S4? The S4 is, more or less, the peak of Samsung phones. I will proceed to detail why:

1. What about processing power?

Most apps written for Android are written to be processed by a dual core or quad core processor - "octa-core" and other features intended to impress the buyer are really nothing more than marketing fluff. Apps aren't designed to take advantage of those cores, because they're written for the weakest hardware in mind. And even then, the biggest reason for the octa-core is to lengthen battery life, NOT for processing power.

So the quad core is the optimal processor for a phone.

2. What about storage space?

Manufacturers have always had the ability to put in huge amounts of storage space, like 256 GB, on phones. They just didn't because they wanted to charge a premium for that on-board space. So while phones like the Galaxy S8 have 64 GB onboard storage, that is not an "innovation", phones have been capable of that since 2012.

You could also expand this with SD cards. Remember that expandable storage was removed in the Galaxy S6.

3. What about onboard memory?

The S4 had 2 GB of onboard memory, which was double what the S3 had. Yet, the S8 only has 4 GB, almost four years later. The S6 also had 4 GB. Why?

Well, memory, like storage space, was something that Samsung has had the power to expand since 2012. But memory for Android is different from memory for Windows, because Android and Linux are much more efficient at budging how memory works. You only use the minimum amount of memory for a background process and apps don't use memory unless called on. It is memory use "as-needed".

So unless you are playing multiple, high process power intensive games at once on your phone (which you shouldn't, use a console or PC instead), all that memory is sort of worthless. It goes unused because you never reach the point where you're maxing the usage.

And, you can always use the SD card with a high read/write speed to expand the onboard memory. This is restricted in S6+ phones.

4. How about CPU speed?

You can overclock this on the S4 by modifying the firmware, making the S4's speed (1.6 GHz) comparable to an S5 (1.9 GHz). You can't do this on the S6+ due to restrictions on the firmware and flashing custom firmware.

5. What about the firmware again?

Android 4.2.2 and 4.3 (JellyBean) were far more hackable and developer friendly than later versions of Android. They were less secure, but if you weren't an idiot (and doing the mods I am mentioning makes that a prereq) security should not be a problem for you on your phone.

Google very quickly rolled out Kitkat and forced upgrades away from JellyBean when it became clear that JB 4.2 was too dangerous to allow to proliferate. The Kitkat rollout happened within months of the S4 launching, and phones were forced to upgrade. Google did something unusual in the history of smartphones by rapidly working with manufacturers to get Kitkat natively shipped out on the phones. So a mere 3 months after the S4 launched, all the new phones shipped with Kitkat 4.4.2. Lolipop, Marshmallow didn't experience nearly as unified a release, and phones continued to be made with inconsistent operating systems.

6. What about download speeds?

The S4 was the earliest phone to have multi band coverage for LTE. I have a Galaxy S3 and it supports only a single band of LTE. Due to advances in technology, it is now possible to combine two, even three frequencies at once for LTE communication. This means that your phone, over the years, will experience faster dl/ul times without needing to upgrade the hardware. AT&T has merely expanded the capacity of its existing frequencies, rather than buy new frequencies as T-Mobile has done. But you can still combine T-Mobile frequencies in metro areas and experience a similar, if lesser effect.

International phones mostly feature AT&T's frequencies because AT&T strategically picked frequencies commonly used in Europe. Verizon/Sprint didn't, so an AT&T and T-Mobile phone are useable abroad.

So yeah. I would wager that a brand new S4, with 4.2., is probably more valuable now that it was when it launched in 2013.
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Old 06-02-2017, 08:52 PM   #4
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I've bought several Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini phones, as I already have the tools used for modding them. The GT-i9195 was my first smartphone and the one I played around the most with. Versions of this are pretty cheap on eBay (though unavailable on Amazon), and they support LTE, so they should still be good.

Or not. LTE in Europe isn't the same as LTE in the US, so the frequencies (800/1800/2600) are incompatible with T-Mobile is (600/700/850/1700/1900/2100) and AT&T (700/850/1700/1900/2100/2300). I wondered if manipulating the radios on the phones would allow me to communicate well with AT&T towers, but the frequency difference is too great. Once HSPA+ gets shut down, my phones will cease to work.

So I went to focus on the domestic, AT&T edition of the S4 Mini, which supported all of AT&T's bands. AT&T's 850/1700/1900/2100 are identical to T-Mobile, and their 700 Band 17 is actually a subset of T-Mobile's band 12. So, while tuning a phone supporting 800 MHz to 850 MHz is hard/impossible, tuning it from 700 MHz block bc to block a is much more possible.

AT&T's phones don't have a lot of support, because AT&T never released .zip files of its OS updates. As a result, there are no flashable .zip files and no custom recoveries available. Hackable support is nil.

But I figured I could flash a unique baseband of the GT-i9195 onto AT&T's SGH-i257, which has the Kitkat bootloader. Knox prevents downgrading from Kitkat to JellyBean.

The hardware is the same, only the antennas and modems are different, no? It should work...but it didn't. Odin crashed which was majorly depressing.

But I checked all the phones and to my utter joy...

Quote:
Originally Posted by AIM
DCD: A single connection running 1080p, per month, is going to run in excess of 1 TB data per month. Four family members watching Netflix over internet connections means 4 TB per month. Comcast doesn't have the bandwidth to support that.
DCD: Especially if people stupidly demand 4K TV, which they will. Hence we'll be seeing rising prices in teleco once consolidations happen (Sprint & Dish).
Morg: so how is that affecting it
DCD: !!!!!
DCD: OH FUCK!!!
DCD: HOLY SHIT WOW!
Morg: they're congesting the fiber?
DCD: HAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!
Morgoth: woop
DCD: One of the phones I got
DCD: I bought four AT&T S4 Minis online
DCD: one of 'em's got Android 4.2.2!!!
Morg: hmm, whatever happened to that version? don't people usually have OS images posted on the internet or did that one go extinct
DCD: It's close to one of a kind this point. AT&T forced a mandatory updated to 4.4.2, and there are no backup images on the internet available.
Morg: what was so urgent that they needed to fix?
DCD: http://forums.upnetwork.net/showpost...39&postcount=2
DCD: Worth noting that before Lolipop came out, Kitkat had a 35% marketshare of all Android: 60% was on older Android, with 20% ish on JellyBean.
DCD: Now, 3 years later, Kitkat and Jellybean have both lost 10%, but they still remain pretty steady.
DCD: I bought a sealed device which I figured was going to have Android 4.2.2, so these two together guarantee me at least two usable devices.
DCD: I was hoping to flash the internationa 4.2. onto these 4.4. devices, but it didn't look like it was going to work. Looks like God gave me a free pass today.
DCD: The AT&T devices I bought were super cheap too. I could buy a boatload more just to harvest the IMEI numbers and gamble on more 4.2.2's
I can't understate that this phone is literally a one-in-a-million device. This phone was probably bought, returned, and never activated because as soon as it hit the internet, Samsung Updates would have put it on 4.4.2. It's been circulating unsold for 4 years, hidden beneath generic packaging and branding.

It's close to priceless, considering the power of the S4 Mini and the restrictions of modern Android on modability.

Now, it's unfortunate that the device came with a Knox Bootloader, but if AT&T was lazy it will be a Kitkat Bootloader, and the same bootloader for the other two devices. IF THAT IS THE CASE, I will be able to port the 4.2.2 OS to other versions of the phone.

To do that, I need to extract a firmware and make it flashable.

But I need a custom recovery to do that, so first I need to compile ClockworkMod for my device.

Yet, because I only have one Windows desktop, and no Linux, I need to get myself an OmniRom and dump it on one of my many devices. Just how many devices do I have, anyway? Too many...close to 30. No joke.
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Old 06-28-2017, 08:08 PM   #5
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It's a small victory, but I was able to extract both the recovery.img and boot.img that are required for compiling a custom recovery. Unfortunately, ClockworkMod's builder doesn't seem to work anymore, so I will still have to go the route of the Linux build environment.

Once the phone was rooted, I tried two different methods: dump_root (triggered using adb) and RomDump (using terminal emulator). Neither works because the dump_root apparently can't launch from the /bin directory and RomDump lacks the proper paths in post-2013 Samsung devices. It was made for purely AOSP roms back in 2011.

I figured I could use RootExplorer to find the image files directly, but the search function failed. I found a post online that indicated the files were located in this path:

/dev/block/platform/msm_sdcc.1/by-name/

That worked on both the Knox'd S4 Mini and the Knox-less S3.
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Old 07-14-2017, 06:29 PM   #6
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I have 9 days left in my billing cycle and I've used 15 GB off my main unlimited line. The LTE limit is 32 GB. I've tethered the internet since before July started. Granted, I haven't done any torrenting or anime downloads, but this was general internet usage (including YouTube browsing).

I'm pretty confident I'm right that this is going to be the future, cutting the cord both literally and figuratively.
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Old 10-14-2017, 03:20 PM   #7
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Here's an article talking about the transition from 32 bit to 64 bit architecture. Curiously, it also went hand-in-hand with Samsung's decision to completely overhaul the Samsung Galaxy series to an iPhone imitator.

Worth noting that the Kitkat/Lolipop spit had some devices in the middle ground. Of my personal devices,

64 bit architecture with a 32 bit OS:

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini Plus (GT-i9195i/ Android 4.4.4)

32 bit architecture with a 64 bit OS:

Samsung Galaxy S4 (SCH-I545pp/Android 5.01)
Samsung Galaxy S4 (SGH-i337/Android 5.01)
Samsung Galaxy S5 (SGH-G900T)

...

On the television front, I've discovered that DirecTV Now natively streams in 1080p. Although the website claims that "smartphones and tablets stream in 480p" by disabling the stream saver option in My AT&T, and with a properly stable connection, it will stream in something between 720p and 1080p. It never goes up to true 1080p like on a DVD, but the picture is definitely acceptable quality.

This discovery will indeed allow me to continue onward with my plan to unite telephone, internet and television onto a single wireless bundle.
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