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Bypassing ISP's

Discussion in 'Resources' started by Ray Murphy, Jul 27, 2009.

  1. Ray Murphy Member

    Years ago i used to regularly retrieve files on 2 Macs with "Apple Remote Access" which were connected by a modem at each distant location (home and work). Does anyone know if PC users are routinely doing that these days - because it would seem like an easy way for Iranian residents to bypass their ISP's entirely.
  2. Ray Murphy Member

    Yes, it would be easy to monitor all phones in Iran to detect modem or fax sounds and record them all, but how many hundreds of (pro-regime) people would it take to inspect it all - and what happens if people are plugging their modems into the first available phone socket they stumble across?
  3. Haven't you heard about the monitoring system they bought from Nokia-Siemens?
    Where have you been?
  4. Ray Murphy Member

    Yes, we've all heard about it, but has anyone mentioned that it would take humans thousands of hours to assess the mountains of information each week? Then of course there's the issue of using someone else's phone line which would lead to many dead-ends.
  5. You mean the end of somebody who's phoneline was used?
    Yeah, I think it would lead to many dead too.

    And about the Nokia-Siemens system: this is a fully automated system checking ALL data.
    Google it up and you'll find out that your idea might be good, but it won't work for countries like Iran or China.
  6. Hechicera Member

    It's actually not that crazy of an idea. But,

    Safety:
    However, the way most phone lines work now, the main transmission switches are digitally monitored, if not digital, so a monitor being able to detect and report that this phone line just transferred data would be trivial. The question would be, how much does that stand out? From here, I have no way to assess that. We know they can. But are they flagging data calls for scrutiny?

    My best guess, from a hotel, it would usually be boring. Many guests may use modems to check mail. But with a press freeze, maybe it would get flagged? From a personal land line though, it might raise eyebrows if it gets noticed. If it does get flagged, it is tied to your phone, which is a faster and more personal ID than using one of a pool of IPs assigned to a major ISP. Tracking IP to person is possible, but not as fast as land line number to person ID. That is part of why the new law there is making ISPs keep logs longer.

    You can still use something to encrypt/decrypt the data. Should, if you suspect there is capability to record flagged calls.

    Technical:
    Running a modem through land lines takes either luck or savvy since most phones don't expect modem use now. Some phone lines have features which cause modems to drop like "tax impulses" (more in Europe, unsure of Iran) or a digital land line will fry a modem. Ahh the sweet smell of ozone in the morning. People that travel and use a modem to check company mails via phone might be a good resource.

    Cost:
    Phone cost per minute isn't cheap.

    Speed:
    I remember 300 baud (and knew a guy that could whistle the connect sequence to a modem too). 1200 or 2400 baud seems slower now than they used to be. Things aren't designed for 1200 baud anymore. It might work for grabbing a text e-mail or two, but even the usual graphics on a message board like this one will likely make it groan. Using it to a service/set-up that offers a low-graphics (aka one that expects to be viewed by a cellphone or old BBS format) option will be a must.
  7. Ray Murphy Member

    The data still needs to be read and assessed by humans - which is impossible for most of it. The U.S. didn't come anywhere NEAR assessing the 'chatter' that could have been terrorist activity before and after Sept 11th. In any case it's not illegal to send information from one PC to another one outside of Iran, so intent to do something wrong would need to be suspected or proved.
  8. Hechicera Member

    The flagging would be automatic. If the data call was recorded, even I could write a program to tell me what data was transferred. If a slob like me can, then it can't be hard, no clue of that is part of the monitoring system. They may not bother. They may just send a few Basij to the phone number's physical location for a visit to explain why whatever you just did is a "bad idea right now" in their eyes.

    Does one, two? a dozen? instances of a phone number sending data get it flagged to a human? We just don't know.

    Or your neighbors in Evin and no clue why they are there.
  9. Ray Murphy Member

    The Apple Remote access system is dead easy to set up. It's been a couple of years since I last used mine in Australia, but the last time I used it to give a demonstration to a friend, I simply plugged in the Mac No.1 56k modem to the phone line and took Mac No.2 to his home and plugged it into his phone line with a 56k modem and dialed from Mac No 2. This gave complete control of Mac No. 1 at (what seemed like) about half the normal speed of the old Macs - about 100Mhz I think they were. I haven't tried it on the later Macs.
  10. Ray Murphy Member

    I suppose a lot depends on whether Iran is living in the modern PC era where PC's are routinely connected to each other remotely AND across borders.
  11. Ray Murphy Member

    7 cents a minute on the phone is not real expensive for anyone outside of Iran who wants some valuable video or data.
  12. Hechicera Member

    Leaving the worries about the neighbors, and the technical installation of a modem (not MAC software) is not trivial to a novice ...

    Nice, 56K is a bit faster than 1200 baud. Assuming the phone line gave you quality that supported 56K, on both ends ... that's hmm a speed of 7 kB/ sec. Best case. I looked at the last Youtube video I uploaded:

    (size of file in kB) divided by 7kB/ sec = 2662 seconds
    2662 seconds / 60 = ~ 44 minutes

    Lets assume there is nothing to cause a modem hiccup for 44 minutes, and no new-fangled phone protocols like tax impulses which force modem disconnects (as a side effect - since they don't expect them):

    You think a 44 minute data call might be flagged?

    I'll reiterate my low-graphic bandwidth app comments from before.

    Also, Apple Remote Access was indeed designed as a remote admin tool, so at least one end of the connection is wide open, I'd be more comfortable with just the modem.

    However, encrypted AppleTalk as a concept does amuse me!
  13. Ray Murphy Member


    As I said before, it depends on whether Iranian businesses are using remote access normally. I assume they have been for at least 5 years - probably 10 or more, and if so it wouldn't raise any flags, particularly if the transmission was done from a workplace without a manager's permission or knowledge.

    Both ends are open for any sort of file sharing it is set for. Strictly speaking the software is for only one (admin) Mac, but if it is installed on both, then they have identical facilities. It's just a case of dragging files into the shared folder or alternatively navigating to the required folder at the other end.

    More recent Macs ALL have ARA as a normal facility. This means that any (modern-Mac) user on the planet could simply attach a modem to their Mac, get my phone number, dial my number and have my Mac answer the call and be visible for immediate file moving or sharing.
  14. Ray Murphy Member

    I just found this:
    Mac aRa Modem Magic High Speed Modem Script Suite Reviewed
    It seems 56k can mean 56k - not 7k
  15. Ray Murphy Member

    I have the impression that most people in Iran are using modems and not broadband - and if they are using Macs, well .... it just works.
  16. Hechicera Member

    The devil is in those ...

    It's the little things behind the number. Here are the numbers.

    56K = 56,600 bps bits per second

    KB = the usual file size measure on a Mac or PC
    B = a byte not a bit, there are 1024 bytes(B) in a kilobyte (KB)
    there are 8 bits in a byte
    so 1024 (1KB) times 8 (bits) = 8192 bits in a KB

    So how fast can a 56.6K (bps) modem transfer a video file of about 18,600 KB (my last one)?

    56,600 bits per second / 8192 KB per bit = 6.909 .. or giving better than perfect 7 KB per second

    File of 18,600 / 7 gives seconds = 2657 / 60 second in a minute gives the 44 minutes.

    It's worse since throughput is never perfect, and it takes 10 bits to transfer 8 bits (2 control bits), but often modems use "full duplex" to try and make up for that. Realistic throughput is 3.5 to maybe 5 or 5.5 KB/s on a 56"K" modem. So on a great line (5 KB/s) that is really about an hour for that video file.

    If an Iranian is already on a 56K modem, the good news is that they already know how long that video would have taken to download. But, I'm sure the video we have that got out of Iran probably made it out via faster than 56K modem connections.

    Modem use is a good point. I guess thats why 140 character twitter viewed through a low-graphics webpage would be good. Maybe when we outside Iran are designing things to communicate with areas with lots of low-bandwidth or cell-phone viewers we should think about including things like RSS feeds or low-bandwidth URLs (loads a low graphic version of pages).
  17. Ray Murphy Member

    Thanks for that. This would mean chopping the video down to transmit the most important images first. Everything else except large Tiffs would be fine.
  18. Gretzky09 Member

    Nice! I was too lazy to run the numbers. Thanks.
  19. Pointing out spam needs to be 10 characters.
  20. Ray Murphy Member

    Some videos are going out via satellite phones that were distributed before the election. The regime is not lying about that sort of foreign "interference".

    So at 7k per sec on a 56k modem we are looking at 3 mins per MB roughly?
  21. Hechicera Member

    Ouch, satellite phones I think are usually 2.4-10 KB/s so the 7 number is about right for a good one, with only a few new ones better. Some have 54kbps (aka throughput 7 KB/s) cards. But if they can hold the line for an hour that's a video!

    Yes, 3 mins per MB on a good connection sounds like a nice rough throughput estimate, should be reasonable for most non-ancient satellite phones and land 56k modems.
  22. Ray Murphy Member

    I rarely look at any of the protest videos. How many MB are they - and can they be compressed?
  23. Hechicera Member

    Short answer: They already are, twice over. Further compression has diminishing returns.

    Long answer:
    5-20MB (for 2 to 10 minute videos) Youtube has a 10 minute cap on private accounts. I've seen videos uploaded to Facebook that were larger, that I had to edit and cut to get into Youtube. I'd say an average would be ~15MB. But, you are going to get a lot of variance based on the video itself, and the format, so there is no good MB / minute measure.

    While you can compress (and zip took my 18,634 file to a 18,500 ... meh). The video format itself is using compression.

    Then the modem tech itself on any modem made in the last 5 years will also be doing compression. Modem tech is actually pretty good, they really squeeze throughput any way they can. Most modems should have hardware and driver level compression. So, further compression has diminishing returns. In some cases, when hardware compression tries to compress an already tightly compressed file, it actually gets bigger.
  24. Ray Murphy Member

    I just had a quick look at satellite phones and it seems they go about 8 times faster than a 56k modem.
  25. Hechicera Member

    Satellite phone or satellite modem? Some satellite modems are getting pretty good.

    But, I don't keep up with cutting edge satellite phone features, perhaps there are new ones with satellite modems in them. I'm just a 300 baud relic. =P
  26. Ray Murphy Member

    I think the modern ones are sometimes just like ordinary mobile phones that will handle everything - but they don't work well indoors and work better if a separate outside antenna is used. Devices like this were dropped into Iran before the election, expressly to transmit video.
  27. try "multilink ppp" for a speed increase - this needs multiple lines* & modems.
    *if using 2 or more out going teclo's & encryption this should be a lot harder to eavesdrop on, although it would still show up as a data call.

    if they used dect in iran it might be possible to run a modem via a homemade acoustic coupler at a low baud to someone else's phoneline - https://dedected.org/ for info on cracking dect, it can be done cheaply & quickly AFAIK.
  28. or one could try: RFC 1149 - Standard for the transmission of IP datagrams on avian carriers ok, maybe just stick a microSD card to a leg or something....

    on a more serious note - cloned cable modems might also work if there is a network in your area - if you could figure a way to get power to it and a wifi router & had a place to hide it it would be possible to splice someone else's line: failing that collect some MAC's and use them once and only once, recloning after you are done sending that set of comms - be sure to store the modem & incriminating docs away from the home with the line that you are using.
  29. you might want to look into "steganography" as well, hide your message inside a photo and then post it to a prearranged public website.
  30. home built "acoustic couplers" & a pda/laptop with a modem could be used to connect to a foreign ISP from a payphone - could be useful for email.
  31. If you have a Basiji for a neighbor

    Try and tap into his phone line. If there were some way to sniff his MAC address, that would be even better.

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