Something odd is afoot in the mountains around Salt Lake City, Utah, at least according to local media reports of remote radio installations that have been popping up for at least the past year. The installations consist of a large-ish solar panel, a weatherproof box full of batteries — and presumably other electronics, including radios — and a mast bearing at least one antenna. Local officials aren’t quite sure who these remote setups belong to or what they’re intended to do, but the installations obviously represent a huge investment in resources.
The one featured in the story was located near the summit of Twin Peaks, which is about 11,000 feet (3,300 meters) in elevation, which with that much gear was probably a hell of a hike. Plus, the owner took great pains to make sure the site would withstand the weather, with antenna mast guy wires that must have required lugging a pretty big drill up with them. There aren’t any photos of the radios in the enclosure, but one photo shows a 900-MHz LORA antenna, while another shows what appears to be a panel antenna, perhaps pointing toward another site. So maybe a LORA mesh network? Some comments in the Twitter thread show most people are convinced this is a Helium crypto mining rig, but the Helium Explorer doesn’t show any hotspots listed in that area. Either way, the owners are out of luck, since their gear is being removed if it’s on public land.
Continue reading “Hackaday Links: January 8, 2023”
Mass storage has come a long way since the introduction of the personal computer. [Tech Time Traveller] has an interesting video about the dawn of PC hard drives focusing on a company called MiniScribe. After a promising start, they lost an IBM contract and fell on hard times.
Apparently, the company was faking inventory to the tune of $15 million because executives feared for their jobs if profits weren’t forthcoming. Once they discovered the incorrect inventory, they not only set out to alter the company’s records to match it, but they also broke into an outside auditing firm’s records to change things there, too.
Senior management hatched a plan to charge off the fake inventory in small amounts to escape the notice of investors and government regulators. But to do that, they need to be able to explain where the balance of the nonexistent inventory was. So they leased a warehouse to hold the fraud inventory and filled it with bricks. Real bricks like you use to build a house. Around 26,000 bricks were packaged in boxes, assigned serial numbers, and placed on pallets. Auditors would see the product ready to ship and there were even plans to pretend to ship them to CompuAdd and CalAbco, two customers, who had agreed to accept and return the bricks on paper allowing them to absorb the $15 million write off a little at a time.
Unfortunately, the fictitious excellent financial performance led to an expectation of even better performance in the future which necessitated even further fraud. The company had turned around, but only on paper. A downturn in the computer business and maxed-out credit signaled the beginning of the end. Suppliers and employees weren’t getting paid. A senior manager violated insider trader rules and dumped a lot of stock.
The turnaround CEO finally resigned and a new CEO found the fraud and released the findings that they were in the hole for $100 million. Bankruptcy pushed the company’s assets to Maxtor and criminal charges against 16 people ensued ending in fines and jail time. It isn’t clear if any of the boxed bricks were shipped to anyone by accident or by a disgruntled employee with a rubber paycheck. [Tech Time Traveller] speculates that if someone has one, it would be quite the collector’s item.
We hear about companies doing questionable things, of course, but this really is impressive in scope. At least they weren’t scamming end users as some tech companies have done.
Continue reading “We’ve Heard Of Bricking A Hard Drive, But…”
Have you ever looked up a recipe online, and before you got to the ingredients, you had to scroll through somebody’s meandering life story? You just want to know how many cans of tomato paste to buy, but instead you’re reading about cozy winter nights at grandma’s house? Well, that’s where you are right now, friend. Except instead of wanting to know what goes in a lasagna, you just want to see the inside of some weirdo alternative medicine gadget. I get it, and wouldn’t blame you for skipping ahead, but I would be remiss to start this month’s teardown without a bit of explanation as to how it came into my possession.
So if you’ll indulge me for a moment, I’ll tell you a story about an exceptionally generous patron, and the incredible wealth of sham medical hokum that they have bestowed upon the Hackaday community…
Continue reading “Teardown: Analog Radionic Analyzer”
With millions of phishing attempts happening daily, we’ve probably all had our fair share of coming across one. For the trained or naturally suspicious eye, it’s usually easy to spot them — maybe get a good chuckle out of the ridiculously bad ones along the way — and simply ignore them. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t exist if they weren’t successful enough in the big picture, so it might be a good idea to inform the targeted service about the attempt, in hopes they will notify users to act with caution. And then there’s [Christian Haschek], who decided to have some fun and trying to render the phished data useless by simply flooding it with garbage.
After his wife received a text message from “their bank”, [Christian] took a closer look at the URL it was pointing to, and found your typical copy of the real login form at a slightly misspelled address. As the usual goal is to steal the victim’s credentials, he simply wrote a shell script that sends random generated account numbers and PINs for all eternity via cURL, potentially lowering any value the attackers could get from their attempt.
As the form fields limit the input length of the account number and PIN, he eventually wondered if the server side will do the same, or whether it would crash if longer data is sent to it. Sadly, he’ll never know, because after he modified the script, the site itself returned a 404 and had disappeared.
In the quest against phishing attacks, this should count as a success, but as [Christian] seemed to enjoy himself, he yearned for more and decided to take a look at a similar attempt he saw mentioned earlier on Reddit. Despite targeting the same bank, the server-side implementation was more sophisticated, hinting at a different attack, and he definitely got his money worth this time — but we don’t want to give it all away here.
Rest assured, [Christian Haschek] continues the good fight, whether by annoying attackers as he did with ZIP-bombing random WordPress login attempts or battling child pornography with a Raspberry Pi cluster. Well, unless he’s busy hunting down an unidentified device hooked up in his own network.
(Banner image by Tumisu)
In the days of carburetors and leaf spring suspensions, odometer fraud was pretty simple to do just by disconnecting the cable or even winding the odometer backwards. With the OBD standard and the prevalence of electronics in cars, promises were made by marketing teams that this risk had all but been eliminated. In reality, however, the manipulation of CAN bus makes odometer fraud just as easy, and [Andras] is here to show us exactly how easy with a teardown of a few cheap CAN bus adapters.
We featured another project that was a hardware teardown of one of these devices, but [Andras] takes this a step further by probing into the code running on the microcontroller. One would imagine that basic measures would have been taken by the attackers to obscure code or at least disable debugging modes, but on this one no such effort was made. [Andras] was able to dump the firmware from both of his test devices and start analyzing them.
Analyzing the codes showed identical firmware running on both devices, which made his job half as hard. It looked like the code was executing a type of man-in-the-middle attack on the CAN bus which allowed it to insert the bogus mileage reading. There’s a lot of interesting information in [Andras]’s writeup though, so if you’re interested in CAN bus or attacks like this, it’s definitely worth a read.
Progress and the proliferation of computers in automotive applications have almost made the shade tree mechanic a relic of the past. Few people brave the engine compartment of any car made after 1999 or so, and fewer still dive into the space behind the dashboard. More’s the pity, because someone may be trying to turn back the odometer with one of these nefarious controller area network (CAN bus) dongles.
Sold through the usual outlets and marketed as “CAN bus filters,” [Big Clive] got a hold of one removed from a 2015 Mercedes E-Class sedan, where a mechanic had found it installed between the instrument cluster and the OEM wiring harness. When the dongle was removed, the odometer instantly added 40,000 kilometers to its total, betraying someone’s dishonesty.
[Big Clive]’s subsequent teardown of the unit showed that remarkably little is needed to spoof a CAN bus odometer. The board has little more than an STM32F microcontroller, a pair of CAN bus transceiver chips, and some support circuitry like voltage regulators. Attached to a wiring harness that passes through most of the lines from the instrument cluster unmolested while picking off the CAN bus lines, the device can trick the dashboard display into showing whatever number it wants. The really interesting bit would be the code, into which [Clive] does not delve. That’s a pity, but as he points out, it’s likely the designers set the lock bit on the microcontroller to cover their tracks. There’s no honor among thieves.
We found this plunge into the dark recesses of the automotive world fascinating, and [Big Clive]’s tutelage top-notch as always. If you need to get up to speed on CAN bus basics, check out [Eric Evenchick]’s series on automotive network hacking.
Continue reading “Dashboard Dongle Teardown Reveals Hardware Needed To Bust Miles”
Sometimes we are rebuilding a RAID array or replacing a BIOS chip and we wonder how ordinary people keep their computes running. Then we realize that most of them come to someone like us for help. But what if you don’t have a family member or friend who is computer savvy? No problem! Plenty of stores — including big box office stores such as Office Depot and OfficeMax — will be glad to help you. Why most of them will be willing to test your computer for free. Sounds nice until you find out that at least in some cases these tests were showing problems that didn’t need fixing so users would pay for services they didn’t need. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has fined Office Depot (who owns OfficeMax) $25 million and plans to use the funds to issue refunds. In addition, a vendor, Support.com, will pay $10 million to support the refunds.
The free check used software to detect problems on a PC. However, during the scan the user is asked if their computer has any of the following symptoms. For example, if their PC has become slow or frequently reboots. If you said yes to any of these questions, the software would produce a report claiming to have found evidence of malware and offering fixes that could cost significant amounts of money even if there was no other evidence.
Continue reading “Office Depot And OfficeMax Find Malware That Isn’t There”