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KellyAssauer
12-23-2013, 04:33 PM
Vinny & Joey are teenage brothers living in (normally) quiet Sunnydale. The community is rocked with a violent crime.

Vinny (the younger brother) begins to suspect that Joey knows something about the crime, heck, he might even be involved!

Joey (the older brother) has a cell phone. It's a 20 dollar pay-as-you-go phone you might buy at any big box store.

Vinny really wants to sneak a peek at Joey's phone, only to find that Joey has recently 'locked' the handset.

Vinny wrestles with this - just can't figure a way to get the code. So he gets the bright idea to go to the big box store and purchase the exact same model phone. When he gets home, he plans to swap out the SIM cards and check out his older brothers phone history...

Will this work?

(I know nothing of cell phone bits & pieces!)

=)


Thanks!

Kolta
12-23-2013, 05:01 PM
Vinny wrestles with this - just can't figure a way to get the code. So he gets the bright idea to go to the big box store and purchase the exact same model phone. When he gets home, he plans to swap out the SIM cards and check out his older brothers phone history...

Will this work?

Not all of a phone's history saves to the phone, but sometimes gets copied to the SIM card. All messages for example might be saved on the SIM card and if he doesn't have the PIN for it, then getting access to the phone with a new card won't be very helpful. But that's just something to keep in mind. If you could make it so that everything, or most of everything, gets saved to the phone itself, then merely swapping out the cards would work.

But does he need to get the exact same model of phone? I'm not sure what the purpose is behind that. Is he going to slip the new one in place of his brother's while he snoops around the older phone with the new SIM? But if that's the case, then that means the phone Vinny has, Joey's cell phone with the new card, has everything on it, and Joey would notice everything missing on the new model. Unless Vinny never had a phone before this so he needs to buy one. But it's not necessary for it to be the exact same model. You can purchase SIM cards separately and cards don't have to be with the same mobile operator to be able to gain access to the same phone.

Rina Evans
12-23-2013, 05:08 PM
Yup, I think if it saves on the SIM, then it won't work. But if it saves on the phone, it will. You don't need the same phone, but probably will need the same provider.

Is the Buffy reference intentional? I immediately thought of Buffy when I read Sunnydale.

robjvargas
12-23-2013, 05:25 PM
Depend on what's locked. A smartphone like an iPhone or Android phone, that lock is part of the operating system.

I won't say that it's terribly hard, but it takes a bit of know-how to get around that.

The non-smart phones these days are called "feature" phones now. Those phones do have a security lock. It's programmed into the system that runs the phone. Swapping the SIM card won't undo that. There are ways to reset that lock. Almost all of them wipe the data in the process. The ones that don't take some specialized equipment and software. Not terribly hard to obtain, but a little expensive ($150 or thereabouts).

It can be done.

By the way, "lock" has a few different meanings in cell phones. There's a security lock. The SIM card can have a security lock of its own. There's also a kind of lock on GSM cell phones called a "subsidy lock." The subsidy lock shouldn't be an issue in your story. Just be aware that most services that advertise "unlocking" a phone are referring to this subsidy lock. The subsidy lock is a kind of PIN, without which the phone will refuse to operate on another carrier (it'll roam, it just won't register as a native phone, like if you switch carriers).

KellyAssauer
12-23-2013, 05:44 PM
Is the Buffy reference intentional? I immediately thought of Buffy when I read Sunnydale.

I think of it as a Crazy Ones reference... ;)

Robin: Hey, where'd you learn to do that Dukes of Hazard trick?
Sarah: Sunnydale.


Depend on what's locked. A smartphone like an iPhone or Android phone, that lock is part of the operating system.

It's a 20 dollar, pay-as-you-go stupid phone.



By the way, "lock" has a few different meanings in cell phones. There's a security lock. The SIM card can have a security lock of its own. There's also a kind of lock on GSM cell phones called a "subsidy lock." The subsidy lock shouldn't be an issue in your story. Just be aware that most services that advertise "unlocking" a phone are referring to this subsidy lock. The subsidy lock is a kind of PIN, without which the phone will refuse to operate on another carrier (it'll roam, it just won't register as a native phone, like if you switch carriers).

My googlefu this morning really confused me with what is and what is not a 'lock' when it comes to a phone. You're right in that the phones seem to have all sorts of lock type things. For the sake of this scene, and this scene only, let's say that if Vinny turns Joey's cheap phone on, a screen appears asking for a 4 digit code only known to the person that set it. From what I could gather trying to decipher cell phone particulars, this is called a 'handset' lock. The phone owner can turn this feature on, or you can turn it off.

As far as swapping SIM cards, I should assume that not all SIM cards are the same, so it would have to be at the very least, a SIM card from the same manufacturer of phone? Or all SIM cards interchangeable and standard?

=)

Maxx B
12-23-2013, 05:52 PM
The trouble with resetting any lock or PIN is that he won't be able to re-lock the phone and his brother will know his phone has been tampered with.
Three possible solutions;
1, Guess the PIN. The brother uses his birth year or something else the MC might guess.
2, MC in his snooping finds where his brother wrote down his PIN and any other passwords he wanted a record of.
3, By using the webcam on the brothers PC he can set up a webcam-security cam. It is motion sensitive and captures when his brother comes into his room. The MC can then watch the footage of his brother typing in his PIN (you can download this software free).

I'd go with some form of old-school method of breaking the PIN, It's easier. The older dumb phones can be set to store info on both phone and SIM. The SIM has a limited amount of space so messages are normally stored on the phone whilst contacts can be stored on the SIM.

jclarkdawe
12-23-2013, 06:19 PM
What does Vinny want to hack? A cell phone has a bunch of different data, all stored in different ways. For instance, there's GPS data, log of phone calls made, text messages, voice mail, pictures, music, and some others. All involve different ways of obtaining the information.

GPS is very difficult to extract from non-smart phones. The user of the phone might not even know that there is GPS data on the phone. However, even with smart phones, GPS data can be difficult. I know of a recent missing person case where the FBI and state police were not able to hack the GPS data on an iPhone. (As long as an iPhone is on, it tracks itself and the data is recorded by Apple. But if it hasn't been enabled, it can be hard to figure out how to get it.)

Phone records can be very easy to obtain. Every cell phone has a service provider such as Verizon, TracPhone, whatever. By FCC regulation, every cell phone user can go to their service provider and look at their phone records to determine whether the service provider is billing correctly. Because of this, the providers maintain websites where you can go into "my account."

Now if you're lucky, the person has never set up their account. All you need is the serial number of the phone and the birth date of the owner. An email address, some other information, and you're good to go. Many, many people do not set up their phone account.

Otherwise, for a brother, go to forget password and get an email with the security question. Nearly always a brother will know the answer to the security question, and the computer will let you reset the password.

I'm not sure how much a SIM card will gain you. And the brother will know someone has been tampering with his phone as soon as he can't call anyone. You might just as well steal the whole phone.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

robjvargas
12-23-2013, 09:14 PM
It's a 20 dollar, pay-as-you-go stupid phone.
That's known as a security lock (or was, when I worked tech support for a carrier about 2-years-pre-iPhone). Without special equipment and software, no go. There's basic level equipment out there in the $60 range, but it gets past a security lock by wiping the phone to factory-fresh memory. The $150 stuff I mentioned previously, I've never used it personally. I believe that it can pull this data. That equipment isn't regulated, though. it takes some looking, but it's not illegal or shady.



My googlefu this morning really confused me with what is and what is not a 'lock' when it comes to a phone. You're right in that the phones seem to have all sorts of lock type things. For the sake of this scene, and this scene only, let's say that if Vinny turns Joey's cheap phone on, a screen appears asking for a 4 digit code only known to the person that set it. From what I could gather trying to decipher cell phone particulars, this is called a 'handset' lock. The phone owner can turn this feature on, or you can turn it off.
It's kind of like a utility. Like when you install anti-virus on a computer, it makes you reboot before it goes into effect. Somewhat like that, turning the security lock on and off requires a phone to reboot... and you have to know the lock code to turn it off.


As far as swapping SIM cards, I should assume that not all SIM cards are the same, so it would have to be at the very least, a SIM card from the same manufacturer of phone? Or all SIM cards interchangeable and standard?

=)


No.

And yes.

Helpful, right?

SIM cards are SIM card, in general. They were defined as part of the GSM technology standard. So they aren't unique to phone manufacturers.

But, like SD flash memory cards, SIM cards do have different sizes. Here's a decent article from Vodafone (http://support.vodafone.com.au/articles/FAQ/What-different-types-of-SIMs-are-available) in the UK. That should cover most of your questions without getting too techie.

Now, I haven't kept up as much as I'd like, but I believe some very modern technologies, like Near Field Communications (http://nfc-forum.org/what-is-nfc/about-the-technology/) (aka NFC), require new kinds of SIM cards.

I might be wrong about NFC in particular. But from what I understand, an "old" SIM card will still work just fine for voice and basic data. The user just wouldn't have access to whatever those technologies might be.

Medievalist
12-23-2013, 09:23 PM
In general the most effective hacks involved social engineering.

He needs to figure out what the PIN is. That's actually the easiest and most likely route.

valerielynn
12-24-2013, 07:09 AM
The easiest way would be for your character to figure out the pin. But if your character is very smart and has hacking experience then he might be able to do some snooping very easily with his hacking skills, if he has any.

Debio
12-24-2013, 03:26 PM
I don't know much of anything about this, but I remember seeing a website once about common pin numbers. It showed that the top 20 most common pin numbers in a database of millions accounted for 25 percent or close to it.

20 pin numbers can be tried in a few minutes. Just have your character go to google for that list and try them out. Unless the brother is particularly security conscious, there is a good chance that one of those will work.

Looking at it now, just the top 2 gives him a better than 1 in 6 chance of getting it.

KellyAssauer
12-24-2013, 03:42 PM
Thanks all, PIN numbers it is!