Weekly Tech News Roundup 13/2/2017

Pirate Telephone Company fights back against scammers, Tesltra gets behind 5G trials, Russian hackers crack the pokies.

If there is a prize for a hero hacker, this guy gets it.

Roger Anderson, a professional telecommunications consultant has a long experience with phone systems and one day found himself on the end of the line with a support scammer. These scammers try to trick innocent people into allowing hackers access to their computers costing victims millions of dollars every year in fraudulent charges.

Roger there and then decided to put his skills to work by deploying automated voice systems known as bots to handle and aggressively dial the numbers of these support scammers effectively flooding their call centers with hundreds of calls. Pretty quickly after having the entire staff of an operation kept busy scammers were forced to move to new numbers disrupting their ability to dupe innocent people.

Roger decided to allow people to subscribe to the service for as little as US$6/year to cover costs of operation so you can have your own bot call and harass the scammers on your behalf.

Seriously a great service that leaves you feeling smug in the fact that you have ruined a bad guy’s day.

Visit his website on http://www.jollyrogertelco.com/.


Telstra starts trials and development of 5G.

Right now, you might think that LTE and 4Gx technology is pretty quick and you would be right. Mobile connections have never been faster and often outpace even the best of ADSL connections and even most of the NBN connections. That is set to get another big boost by 2020 as the telcos and authorities are preparing to agree on standards for 5G. Promising more capacity and much faster speeds of up to 10Gbs (10,000Mbs) 5G cellular services have the potential to leapfrog NBN even though Telstra may play it down to a complimentary service.

Telstra and other telecommunications providers are getting involved in the testing of upcoming 5G technology in order to make sure that the yet to be ratified standard suits all markets.

Just this month Tesltra, Qualcomm, Netgear and Ericsson collaborated on initial trials of what could be called “4.5G” with a Telstra Nighthawk M1 mobile hotspot delivering speeds of up to 1Gbs (over 1000Mbs) for mobile subscribers.

With Telstra and hardware partners getting involved in 5G trials this early we stand a chance of getting a service that is better suited to local conditions which is a welcome change from the 4G service being tweaked.

More from the Telstra blog here.

Russian hackers crack poker machines through design flaw.

When it comes to casinos you can be sure that the odds favour the house but thanks to a design flaw in Australia’s own Aristocrat Leisure Mark IV slot machine a gang of Russian hackers were able to tilt the chances to their side.

The problem lies in a important component of the machine known as the Pseudo Random Number Generator which is tasked with creating random conditions to ensure that the outcomes are hard to determine before the event. However by nature computers are deterministic meaning that they are very good at following rules and coming to the same conclusion reliably. This is why computer based randomisers are given the label pseudo to indicate that they are not perfectly random but hopefully are very close.

This is the design flaw for this application. The hackers were observed playing the machines for a few minutes while holding a smartphone up to the screen and then retiring to a bar or room for a while to send the video off for analysis by an overseas team only to return holding the phone and waiting long periods of time before hitting the “spin” button.  When the phone vibrated, the hackers had around a quarter of a second to hit the spin button to increase the chances of a payout. This along with each hacker taking around $20,000 a day got the attention of Casino security.

But the question remains, how did the Russian hackers work this out? When Vladimir Putin outlawed gambling, Casinos and gambling dens around Russia tried to unload thousands at steep discounts to anyone willing to buy. With access to this kind of technology it was only a matter of time before security researchers and hackers alike started to tinker with the one-armed bandits.

More on this story here.