Feeds

Free Libyana: Gadaffi networkjacker speaks!

Abushagur tells The Reg how he nabbed a network

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

GSM security is based on a shared secret, a cryptographic key stored on the SIM and on the Authentication Server. For the Libyana network that's in Tripoli and for the moment beyond the interim government's reach; so to make use of the existing SIMs the network has had to switch off all encryption.

That's not as serious as it sounds - many GSM networks around the world run without encryption thanks to US restrictions on exporting secure communications equipment. Such countries suffer from a certain amount of fraud from SIM cloning, and listening in to calls becomes easier, but not as easy as plugging into the routing hub, which is what governments usually do.

Ousama Abushagur is optimistic he'll be able to get the GSMA to hand over copies of the cryptographic keys for the 725,000 active users on Free Libyana, but we're not convinced - in the long term replacement SIMs might be the only solution if security is going to be restored.

Communication is essential to restore normality to the region, as well as enabling the interim government to coordinate municipal services and relief efforts. Satellite phones were already in use, but at $2,000 a time the cost was prohibitive; and interim-government officials weren't keen to stand around in open spaces, for prolonged periods, while talking on the phone.

The next thing is to get over-the-air provisioning to work, so subscribers whose numbers weren't in the captured VLRs can connect to the network without being manually added. Free Libyana also expects to have an SMSC running within the next week, so Libyans will be able to text as well as talking to their friends for free.

And free it will remain - there's no sign of a billing system for domestic calls as yet, while international dialling requires the use of pre-paid calling cards and is restricted to numbers registered with the operator. What happens when Libya returns to being a single country is harder to say, and will rather depend on whose country it ends up being; but for close to a million people Ousama Abushagur and his team have created connections where there were none, and made a lot of ordinary people much happier. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
Broadband sellers in the UK are UP TO no good, says Which?
Speedy network claims only apply to 10% of customers
Virgin Media struck dumb by NATIONWIDE packet loss balls-up
Turning it off and on again fixes glitch 12 HOURS LATER
Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle!
Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
The Heartbleed Bug: how to protect your business with Symantec
What happens when the next Heartbleed (or worse) comes along, and what can you do to weather another chapter in an all-too-familiar string of debilitating attacks?