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SANS ISC: The Modern Dark Ages? - Internet Security | DShield SANS ISC InfoSec Forums


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The Modern Dark Ages?

The Internet, mobile phone, cellular data connections and other communications devices have enabled modern society for near real time communications. With the addition of social media (e.g Twitter, Facebook) inter connectivity between people is improved greatly.

The choice of the Egyptian government to cut off communications brings about a thought on risks of global travel. Why the authorities of Egypt cut off communications is out of scope here but impact is not. Some of us handlers travel a great deal throughout the year and have been in Egypt.

There have been reports from several sources that mobile phone services have been partially restored but repeating Mark's check with dnstracer, Internet still seems to be down.

Tracing to www.eeaa.gov.eg[a]
 |___ FRCU.EUN.eg [gov.eg] (193.227.1.1) * * *
 |___ RIP.PSG.COM [gov.eg] (147.28.0.39)
 |     |___ NS2.TEDATA.NET [eeaa.gov.eg] (No IP address)
 |      ___ NS1.TEDATA.NET [eeaa.gov.eg] (No IP address)
 |___ RIP.PSG.COM [gov.eg] 
 

Due to over 150,000 Miles of travel a year, I asked myself "What is my personal disaster recovery plan in the case of communication's outage" and found that I had none. In dialog with the other handlers it was apparent that we rely upon global connectivity and an outage like Egypt would leave most of us digitally stranded.

In my travel kit there was not even a backup analog modem let alone any satellite options. After some research there are several possible products but this diary serves as a question to the ISC Community, what would you carry, if anything, to mitigate this real risk?

As Mark stated a couple days ago, please keep comments apolitical.

Richard Porter

--- ISC Handler on Duty

Richard

162 Posts
ISC Handler
That's why I keep my ham license. It's not 100% reliable but with the internet down in a large area, generally with HF/VHF you can work around it. There are tools to send email over radio like Airmail, Paclink and RMSExpress. BTW no more code on the tests.
Anonymous
Basically Ham License on HF and Satphone are all you've got. In the upcoming decade, situational and political awareness will be really necessary if you travel.
Anonymous
I normally carry a modem and when needed use dial-up / VPN back to my modem in the home attached to the internet.

DDJ
Anonymous
Ham radio - free on-line practice tests. Maybe a Spot/ Spot2 Messenger.
Anonymous
Thuraya, Inmarsat BGAN, Iridium
Anonymous
Unless it is a matter of life and death (and I suppose it could be argued that the situation in Egypt qualifies) I tend to agree with the sentiment expressed by handler Ed Skoudis a few years back when he said "I'm looking forward to an Internet Snow Day. I could use the rest!"
Anonymous
I think it really depends on how big of a budget and how much space you realistically have, but I would go with ham radio license or Iridium phone depending on those factors.
hacks4pancakes

48 Posts
One thing about ham radio is the laws are not the same in all countries. Frequency bands that we have available in the US may not be available somewhere else. Also, an amateur radio license is only valid in the country in which it is issued. I believe amateur radio transmissions are actually forbidden in some countries and can land someone in real trouble if caught transmitting without approval and merely possessing the equipment may be a crime. There are lots of reciprocal agreements but people should be very aware of possible issues if they carry radio gear into other countries and operate it.
hacks4pancakes
9 Posts
@Robert
Especially during times of unrest.
hacks4pancakes
57 Posts
I was discussing the Egypt scenario with some friends last week and over the weekend; we were figuring out how communications could be restored in such a scenario. Then, this morning, I see an article calling out the <a href="http://servalproject.org">Serval Project</a>, which is pretty close to what we had been envisioning--using cellphones in a mesh-based network. Doesn't look like they've shipped any code yet, sadly, but according to their blog, they're in active development.
hacks4pancakes
1 Posts
Generally when a regime wants the internet turned off they don't take kindly to people circumventing it. Getting caught in a volatile situation with a bunch of RF/satcom equipment could quickly land you in a whole lot of trouble.
hacks4pancakes
12 Posts
Ham radio: "When all else fails!"
But Robert's comments are right on target. I would add one more caveat: Amateur radio is strictly for non-commercial use. The regs are very strict, and the FCC recently issued additional clarification on this point. We are NOT permitted to use amateur radio in the course of business.
That said, I never go anywhere without an HT (handheld radio), and a repeater directory.
For data comms, my laptop bag is packed with network cables, telephone cables, adapters, etc. I can connect by wired LAN, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, dial-up, and tethered cell phone.
73
hacks4pancakes
1 Posts
Ham Radio. You can operate in foreign countries that have a International reciprocal licensing agreement with the US. When no agreement exists between countries, amateur radio operators are ofter required to apply for a reciprocal permit or license from the host country.

73's.
hacks4pancakes
1 Posts
smoke signals
Greg

25 Posts
Carrier pigeons, of course. They are low bandwidth, but can serve as emergency rations at the point of delivery. And you can use a shotgun for denial of service attacks to increase the bandwidth available to your own pigeons. Kidding aside: ham radio rocks in such situations. And, remembering 9/11, Blackberry PIM messaging did quite a decent job in local area comms, too, when everything else was "off the air".
Daniel

367 Posts
ISC Handler
@Dan Carrier pigeons are a good idea, as long as you stay compliant with the relevant RFCs, 1149 and 2549.
Daniel
3 Posts
Granted I'm jaded because I used to work there, but other sat comms providers still rely on ground networks to pass communications with a bent pipe architecture. Iridium is the only solution that truly doesn't rely on ground networks to pass traffic until it's time to pass it to the PSTN. No one else also has true global coverage. Granted data rates won't even allow outlook to run, but it's better than nothing.
Daniel
4 Posts
As a traveller currently in Egypt, I really fell startled by the egyptian cut but I don't really see any cheap solutions

* modems would be probably also blocked (even if some "rogues" lines could persist)
* is ham radio can give you Internet access ? could you communicate on long-distance ? (don't know about it)
* satellite phone/data are probably too expensive

I don't know the cost of the two latter solutions and another problem for a traveller is weight/size.
After it depends, why you travel. probably too complex/expensive for a backpacker or tourist.
Julien

10 Posts
SANS and the ISC do not endorse any particular product but the above topic was discussed among the handlers.

One of them pointed out this product:
findmespot.com/en/

Otherwise INMARSat has the ISatPhone Pro...

If I decide to go with any of these I will look into a review.

Sensitive subject and there seems to be no real easy solution.

Cheers,
Richard
---
ISC Handler -- Off Duty today :)
Richard

162 Posts
ISC Handler
Agree, no easy solutions.

Thanks a lot for your feedback Richard (and the others too, of course :)
Julien

10 Posts

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