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Wireless Networking

Engineers Hijack Libyan Phone Network For Rebels 76

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i-see-what-you-did-there dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A team led by a Libyan-American telecom executive has helped rebels hijack Col. Moammar Gadhafi's cellphone network and re-establish their own communications. The new network, first plotted on an airplane napkin and assembled with the help of oil-rich Arab nations, is giving more than two million Libyans their first connections to each other and the outside world after Col. Gadhafi cut off their telephone and Internet service about a month ago."
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Engineers Hijack Libyan Phone Network For Rebels

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  • Gank! (Score:1, Funny)

    by LordStormes (1749242)

    All Your Web Are Belong to Us.

    WTG rebels!

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @10:30AM (#35807636) Journal
    Hope Gadaffi is merely the dry run, and the liberators would come to rescue the wretched masses suffering under the totalitarian regimes of AT&T and Verizon too.

    Can you hear me now?

  • by countertrolling (1585477) * on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @10:31AM (#35807646) Journal

    It really shows how brittle and easily compromised the infrastructure is. That, in my mind (what's left of it), is a 'bad thing'.

    • by Alarash (746254)
      I'm fairly sure you need physical access to the infrastructure at some point in order to do this - if only to change the router's admin credential so you can't be "hacked back". In a country with an on-going revolution this is much easier to do that in a stable country where the security guards of the data center are certainly not going to let you in.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @11:11AM (#35808194)

        I'm fairly sure you need physical access to the infrastructure at some point in order to do this - if only to change the router's admin credential so you can't be "hacked back". In a country with an on-going revolution this is much easier to do that in a stable country where the security guards of the data center are certainly not going to let you in.

        Obviously neither of the 2 parents read the article, where it explains in detail all the high-tech hardware they needed to import in order to do this, with the help of sympathetic nations like Qatar because telecom companies won't sell this stuff to individuals. It was NOT easy, and yes, obviously physically access was needed.

        • by easyTree (1042254)

          Pray, tell us more about this 'article' thing. What else does it say?

        • by sjames (1099)

          They needed that equipment because they couldn't gain and maintain physical control of the facilities in Tripoli. Instead, they had to more or less replicate it elsewhere.

          The sad part is the restrictions on sales. Apparently you have to be part of the "in" crowd in order to buy. Even more sadly, it appears that brutal dictators are "IN" but their opposition is "OUT". Thankfully, neighboring countries helped out.

    • by Zeek40 (1017978) on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @10:42AM (#35807798)
      They had to physically wrest control of the entire countryside surrounding the towers from a violent dictator and had to negotiate with foreign telcom providers to accomplish the takeover. I wouldn't say that infrastructure that requires both violent revolution and high tech support from outside the country is especially "brittle" or "easily compromised".
      • A slightly more extreme version of social engineering, using the 'morality' angle.. What else is new? However... a system that could physically defend itself could very well be much worse :)

    • by dunezone (899268)

      It really shows how brittle and easily compromised the infrastructure is.

      They probably have rebel sympathizers on the inside assisting them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bigpat (158134)

      Actually, I think it was somewhat disturbing that it took a month to get this communication system back online. Even with fighting going on West of Benghazi it seems that getting the infrastructure back in place would have been a huge priority for a variety of reasons and that getting towers back online even just for local communication would have taken days not weeks. I think the delay was probably due more to organizational issues of who had the authority to award contracts in the new regime and how to

      • I can only think that you didn't read the article or anything about what is happening over there. You make it sound like it was politics holding this back. Awarding contracts? Seriously?

        • by bigpat (158134)

          Seriously... "What followed was a race against time to solve the technical, engineering and legal challenges..."

          You might want to carefully read the article yourself. This wasn't just a matter or resetting some routers and unplugging them from Tripoli and doing this while under fire from Gaddafi's mercenaries. At least some people, especially non-Libyans, had to know they were going to get paid for all this work and equipment. They basically had to set up a provisional national telecom company after sett

          • Are you responding to me or the OP? Seems to me like you hit reply to the wrong post. It was the OP who thought that one month was too long for it to take. All your arguments go against him - not me.

      • If you're a disorganized and scattered band of protesters-turned-rebels trying to go about restoring communications infrastructure, how do you communicate to coordinate everything that's required to restore communications infrastructure?
      • Actually, I think it was somewhat disturbing that it took a month to get this communication system back online.

        It wasn't a matter of "getting it back on line". Doing that would have routed all the calls through its hub which was in Gadhafi's hands.

        What they were doing was reengineering the network, cutting off its original (physical!) connections and route to its original hub, obtaining and installing a replacement network operations infrastructure, cell phone database server, and links to out-of-country t

      • by sjames (1099)

        The problem is that the entire network was deliberately designed to be completely dependent on facilities in Tripoli, which is still under government control.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Maybe i'll actually have a signal on my cell phone if someone would hack a few t-mobile antennas

  • "Ousama Abushagur, a 31-year-old Libyan telecom executive raised in Huntsville, Ala., masterminded the operation from his home in Abu Dhabi."
    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      Did he say, "Hold my beer... hey everybody, watch this!" just before he started?
    • by DrgnDancer (137700) on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @11:06AM (#35808122) Homepage

      To be fair, Huntsville has arguably the single largest concentration of engineering and technology talent between Atlanta and Houston (Alternately it could be argued that nearby Knoxville does, with ORNL right there). I should know, I live here. Among other things, the US rocketry program was born here (Werner Von Braun immigrated here, and is considered more or less the father of the modern city), NASA and MDA both have huge presences here, and we have the headquarters for much of the Army's weapons R&D. There's not many places like this in the South.

      • I live in Huntsville too. There are plenty of companies here that are/were innovative in computer hardware/networking/telecom separate from government business. I'd like to see more diversity in what the city does, but being in the south it carries such a stigma for the residents being stupid it is hard to attract other industries. Hence my sarcastic comment as GP to stir up discussion. BTW there is plenty of technical expertise around the South, Huntsville just shines so bright because of the governmen
        • Of course there are smart people scattered all over the South. There are smart people scattered everywhere, but there are very few concentrations of smart people in the South. Places like NYC, Boston, Chicago, San Fransisco that just have huge numbers of really smart people attracted to some industry or just attracted to the concentration itself. Atlanta, Houston, Huntsville, Knoxville... I'm already stretching. It's also worth noting that of the four places I mentioned, and the two you mentioned, four o

          • The south is a cesspool of bigotry.
            The women are fat and ugly. The people are rude.
            There's no heavy industry and the coastline is polluted.

            No one should move here^H^H^H^H there.
            • The women are fat and ugly...There's no heavy industry .

              You seem to have contradicted yourself there.

          • by BitZtream (692029)

            Places like NYC, Boston, Chicago, San Fransisco that just have huge numbers of really smart people

            No, they hold huge numbers of people. Full stop. You can't be that bright to live in ridiculously over crowded metropolis, if nothing else due to the damage it causes from a long term environmental perspective and the raw inefficiency of a large city.

            • by DamonHD (794830)

              The evidence is that cities are less (or at least no more) resource-intensive per capital than rural areas...

              Besides, some of us like to be able to walk places, meet people, and aren't agricultural specialists.

              Rgds

              Damon

  • by PPH (736903)

    1) Hijack Libyan phone network.
    2) Restore rebel communications.
    3) Route Gadhafi loyalists calls through your $5.99/min sex chat line or call forwarding service.
    4) ????
    5) Profit!

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      4) Blackmail Gadhafi loyalists by threatening to reveal their $5.99/min call to you sex chat line.

  • In our quest to achieve peaceful, democratic government in the Middle East...

    Sanctions have failed for 30 years.
    Negotiations have failed for 80 years.
    Bloody conquest has failed for over 1,000 years.

    Turning off Facebook and Two Girls, One Camel has gotten it done in 8 countries in six months.

    • To be fair, we haven't been trying to spread democracy in the middle east until W. used it as an excuse for his holy war. Our foreign policy has been mostly based on keeping a dictator we like in power and giving him as many guns, tanks, and jets that his poor country could afford with oil wealth. When they started to get a little sassy with us like Saddam or the Ayatollah did then we worked covertly and overtly to subvert their regimes.
      • by lexsird (1208192)

        I think calling it "a democracy in the middle east" is funny. Imagine this, what if we set them up as a "democracy" and they all come out and vote in a government that ours HATES! Haha...oh the irony. Frankly I don't have any problem with Imperialism as long as we iron out states rights more. The individual states need to wrestle back whatever power they can from the Feds, but that will be tricky considering the big purse strings that the feds hold.

        But over all, we should be adding stars to the flag. Lets g

  • Help support the open802.11s project to bring mesh wifi to linux
    http://open80211s.org/ [open80211s.org]

    The IEEE is in no rush to finalize the standard, and the companies are in no rush to produce products, so once again it's up to the open source community to get this started.

  • First they've got the most incompetent rebel army in the world, now they're going to spend all their time on the phone boasting about their magnificent "victories".

    • What exactly qualifies them as "the most incompetent rebel army in the world"?

  • by Roskolnikov (68772) on Wednesday April 13, 2011 @12:55PM (#35809586)

    Can you fear me? How about now?

  • TFA says that the rebels wrested control of the infrastructure away from Kadaffi. However, I expect that Kadaffi's government has the equipment and know-how to monitor calls. Therefore, I wonder if the rebels' calls will end up being insecure.

    Still, it's probably worth having some level of telecom. And they could come up with some kind of code to obscure their messages.
    • by robot256 (1635039)

      Didn't the rebels basically sever all the connections to Tripoli and set up a new master routing system with its own satellite uplink? It would be stupid if they still had fiber going into Gadaffi's territory.

      On another note, being an amateur radio operator, I wondered why they didn't set up less infrastructure-intensive radio comms, but that kind of equipment is hard to get, especially military radios with any kind of encryption. Everybody has cell phones already so they didn't need to get lots of radio

    • TFA says that the rebels wrested control of the infrastructure away from Kadaffi. However, I expect that Kadaffi's government has the equipment and know-how to monitor calls. Therefore, I wonder if the rebels' calls will end up being insecure.

      If you'd read it more closely you'd have seen that this was much of the point of the exercise.

      The original network, physically and logically, worked through a NOC in Tripoli and under Gadaffi's control. Yes they turned it off and jammed the signals - no doubt when spy

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