My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: January 2013

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Digicel's Voicemail Problems as their MINSAT and DWS Databases get hacked by Robin Hood

“Today there has been an important development in an ongoing investigation, in conjunction with the police, as a suspect has now been arrested. Whilst we are pleased with this development, unfortunately we cannot comment further due to legal constraints that could compromise the ongoing police investigations.”

Digicel Official statement on the hacking on their MINSAT and DWS Databases as reported in The Jamaica Star, Saturday January 26th 2013

Voicemail is now back in the news as it appears Telecom Provider Digicel’s woes are just beginning to manifest over the past weekend, forcing me to publish yet another article on my blog, as Digicel’s in the news, all for the wrong reasons.

This as they’ve decided to roll backon Saturday January 26th 2013 earlier upgrades to Voicemail in response to pressure from the OUR (Office of Utilities Regulation) as noted in the article “Digicel reverts to old Voicemail system”, published Saturday January 26, 2013 5:22 am, The Jamaica Gleaner. In the process, Telecom Provider Digicel has also apologized to the people of Jamaica described in the article “Digicel says Sorry”, published Sunday January 27th 2013, The Jamaica Gleaner.

This after the OUR had told Telecom Provider Digicel to address their problems on Friday January 18th 2013 as it related to routing calls to Voicemail as stated in the article “OUR wants Digicel to address Voicemail glitches”, published Friday January 18, 2013 | 8:52 am, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Telecom Provider Digicelresponded by January 21st 2013 by forming an internal Technical Committee which, strangely, recommended and put in place the short term fix of improving the Voicemail Network as stated in the article “Digicel faces deadline”, Published Monday  January 21, 2013, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Coincidentally, a lone 30 year old Database Hacker who’d breached Digicel’s MINSAT and DWS Databases, potentially exposing details of Phone numbers, Call records and possibly Credit Card information in both the Prepaid and Postpaid Accounts, was arrested on Saturday January 26th 2013  as a suspect in the crime as reported in “Digicel hacked”, published Saturday January 26, 2013, The Jamaica Gleaner and “ONE ARRESTED FOR DIGICEL HACKING”, published January 26 2013, The Jamaica Star.

People, take note of these timelines! They’re important as to what’s gonna happen next!

No news on how long the unknown suspect hacker’s been at it or where he works, save to say the investigation been ongoing and most likely more arrests are in the offing. Most likely too, based on my sources, it may be related to confessions to avoid an extended prison sentence given 26 year old Philpott Martin, a computer specialist who’d hacked Digicel’s MINSAT and DWS Databases before and his subsequent granting of a Bail Extensionin August 2012 as stated in the article “Digicel fraud accused gets bail extension”, published Thursday, August 23, 2012, The Jamaica Observer.

For those with really short memories, Mr. Philpott Martin, a Computer Science student at the UTECH (University of Technology) was before the Resident Magistrate’s court in August 2009 for Hacking into Digicel’s MINSAT and DWS Databases. The Jamaican Police, based on tipoff from Telecom Provider Digicel, has done after investigations that revealed he’s accessed Digicel’s MINSAT and DWS Databases at his workplace.

Mr. Philpott Martin  then used said access to defraud Telecom Provider Digicelof some JS$10 million in Call Credit over a two (2) year period as stated in the article “Accused cyber scammer allegedly rips off Digicel $10m in Call credit”, published Friday, August 28, 2009 BY PAUL HENRY Observer staff reporter, The Jamaica Observer.

It’s alledged that Mr. Philpott Martin even went further and used the information in the Database to hack into Banking Networks in the Cayman Islands and the USA, based on the fact that he may have used the Credit Card information obtained from Digicel’s MINSAT and DWS Databases to gain access to those Bank Accounts.

The Jamaican Police, however, erred by having a Telecom Engineer access the Philpott Martin’s personal computer at his residence in the Oaklands Apartment Complex, effectively evidence tampering as stated in the article “Man accused of hacking Digicel system denied bail”, published August 28th 2012, The Jamaica Star.

But it gets spookier, dear reader, based on the reasoning of my anonymous source. Dear reader, note the timelines! They’re important to the explanation of what’s really shaking down here!

The Jamaican Police may have also gained access to a copy of Digicel’s MINSAT and DWS Databases, as to access it requires getting Court ordered Subpoenas and the police may have seized the opportunity to make a copy onto a Thumb drive, so says my source.

MINSAT Database is an Ericsson Database that used on all of their Mobile Telecom Equiptment and provisions the settings for each phone user’s account, be they Prepaid or Postpaid. DWS keeps track of call records in terms of who a particular subscriber calls and who called them. Both of them are thus very valuable Databases.

Making it easy for his lawyer, Tom Tavares-Finson to argue that his client, charged with three (3) counts of simple larceny and one (1) count of conspiracy to defraud, may have been in fact, set up by Telecom Provider Digicel and the Jamaican Police in a bid to gain access to Digicel’s MINSAT and DWS Databases for nefarious purposes.

After all, albeit Mr. Philpott Martin had access to Digicel’s MINSAT and DWS Databases at his workplace while recycling of Used Mobile Phone Card Voucher Numbers, he must have had inside help from within Telecom Provider Digicelto get access to Live Phone Card Voucher Numbers.

According to my source,Mr. Philpott Martin is merely a scapegoat for the real criminal as the workers at his company received Used and New Mobile Phone Card Voucher Numbers sealed and they have no access to that Database to know which is which, making Telecom Provider Digicel’s actions look suspicious.

His case has an interesting connection to this recently accused 30-year old, as based on my confidential sources there’re a few connections; they BOTH worked at the same company and had unfettered access to Digicel’s MINSAT and DWS Databases. Also the Jamaican Police may have made yet another illegal copy of the now updated Digicel’s MINSAT and DWS Databases for ongoing investigative purposes, a Database small enough to fit on a standard sized DVD or a 8GB Thumbdrive.

The Jamaican Police had also arrested some more persons of interest related to Philpott Martin’s infamous hack and it’s my preposition that this most recent hack’s related to his getting a Bail Extension in August 2012 as stated in the article “Digicel fraud accused gets bail extension”, published Thursday, August 23, 2012, The Jamaica Observer.

Most likely, he’ll soon be facing extradition requests form the Cayman Islands and the US of A later this year as more details of this fresh attack on Telecom Provider Digicel’s Network come to light. Thus more confession from Mr. Philpott Martin may be forthcoming, revealing a nest of Hackers right here in Jamaica, as he’s not  Lone Gunman; he’s got company.

Just for the record, it ain’t me; I hack Telecom Networks as noted in my Geezam article entitled “How to access any WEP or WPA/WPA2 Wi-Fi Network that has a password”not Databases; that’s IT (Information Technology) peeps!

Not surprising these trains of eventsare in synchrony, as despite the apparent disconnect, they’re very much connected. People, again, take note of these timelines! They’re really important as to what’s gonna happen next, as Digicel’s MINSAT and DWS Databases are a treasure trove for any hacker!

This latest hack’s related to the malcontent about Digicel’s Voicemail as it’s the aggressive side of complaints from the Jamaican people to the CACU (Consumer Advisory Committee on Utilities), an arm of the CAC (Consumer Affairs Commission) since September 2012 with regards to phone calls being routed to Voicemailas reported in “Mobile users complain about Voicemail charges”, published Friday September 14, 2012 10:41 am, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Telecom Provider Digicel’s chickens it seems, had finally come home to roost.

Apathy for anything happening to Telecom Provider Digicel is at an all-time high. Most Jamaicans, who give tacit support to Scammers, Local and International, are of the opinion, based on the mutterings of many CSA (Customer Service Agents) and TES (Technical Engagement Specialists) within ACCENT Marketing, that Telecom Provider Digicelhad it coming.

Most likely this 30 year old person is well known among the IT peeps in the Canteen on the 5th Floor of ACCENT Marketing andmay in fact be another UTECH Computer Science Student and may be known among the mainly Panasonic and ASUS TES, his name whispered in hushed tones of reverence as he’s probably admired as some kind of Modern Day Robin Hood.

It was inevitable they’d be hacked,they quietly agree sotto voce, nodding and argueing over Pizza Hut and Burge King mealsbetwixt lunchroom conversations. Knowledge about Digicel’s MINSAT and DWS Databases was already floating around.

It’s common knowledge among the many escaped refugees, “Secret” CSA’s fromthe evil Garrison of a Call Center that called FullGram Solutions as noted in my blog article entitled “Digicel cuts 120 Call Center Jobs - Fullgram Solutions to benefit as Antonio Graham speaks of an AEPP future by the Ocean”.

I even wrote an article mentioning Digicel’s MINSAT and DWS Databases and what they’re used for as per my blog article entitled “How to Register your SIM Card and get the PUK1 and access Digicel’s Phone Calling Records”.  Many Jamaicans were upset that Telecom Provider Digicel appeared to be robbing them, as whenever they’re unable to get through to the Called party, the Call is routed to Voicemail and they’re charged for the Call.

But Telecom Provider LIMEwas similarly affected by the rate decline, but it would seem that they’ve chosen to deal with it differently, even making money from it as reported in my blog article entitled “LIME reports Voice Traffic up 71% in Second Quarter of 2012AD - ACS-Xerox loses contract to TELUS International as LIME becomes Mavado Money Changer.

Telecom Provider LIME’s level of Dropped Calling on their Network has increased, thus the level and nature of complaint with regards to their GSM Voice Network was different. This assessment is based on my cursory anecdotal experience, as it appears Telecom Provider LIME has no problem with Call Routing. Instead of terminating a Call on Voicemail and charging you in the process, Telecom Provider LIME merely drops the Call once the Cell sites become congested.

Thus there’s been an increase in Drop Call on Telecom Provider LIME’s GSM Voice Network since the Rates have gone down, as many time when I try to make calls on my LIME Mobile phone while at work at ACCENT Marketing on the 5th Floor of the Citibank Building, where our Canteen is located, the Call just unceremoniously drops, leaving me unable to make the Call due to congestion on their Network.

The REAL reason for the Voicemail Routing problem was due to the fact that unlike Telecom Provider LIME, Telecom Provider Digicel has been refusing to upgrade its GSM Voice Networks backhaul i.e. the Network of Microwave RBS (Radio Base Stations) that interconnect their GSM BTS (Base transceiver Stations). Fiber Optic Backhaul’s best in a move to mimic Telecom Provider LIMEin order to properly handle the increase in Voice Traffic and eventually 3G Data Traffic.

This due to the natural result of the Cross Network and On-Net calling rates from JA$10 to JA$2.89 as explained in my blog article entitled “LIME and Digicel Networks routing Callers to Voice Mail - Hit and Run Advertising while Test out Free Voice Calling”.

So again, Telecom Provider Digicel is best served by taking the recommendation of my blog article entitled “LIME and Digicel Networks routing Callers to Voice Mail - Hit and Run Advertising while Test out Free Voice Calling” and monetizing Voicemail via Advertising.

In reality, giving back people money that’s stolen from them, Brown Dawg Style, is the best way to really say sorry and placate the masses slowly migrating to Telecom Provider LIME Network over the next three years as noted in my blog article entitled “LIME and Digicel Networks routing Callers to Voice Mail - Hit and Run Advertising while Test out Free Voice Calling”.

They can also take their cue from Telecom Provider LIMEand upgrade their Microwave RBS (Radio Base Stations) to Fiber Optic for their Mobile Network’s Backhaul as part of their long Term Data Service Strategy.

Despite any perceived expense of such an upgrade, it’ll be worth it in the future. 2013, the Year of the Snake, has been declared as the Year of Data by bothTelecom Provider LIME and Triple Play Provider FLOW in the article “2013: A year for data”, published Wednesday, January 09, 2013 by Camilo Thame Business Co-ordinator, The Jamaica Observer.

Now that the knowledge of about Digicel’s MINSAT and DWS Databases being hackable is known, more hacks in protest over Telecom Provider Digicel’s unfair practices on their GSM Network are sure to happen as most Hackers will see it as A Good Day to Die Hard (2013).

Keep following my blog posts folks. More to come as this case unravels and this Modern Day Robin Hood’s identity is revealed in Court when he’s taken in for charges to be laid in the Resident Magistrate’s Court.In the meantime, I‘ll keep in contact with my sources.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Google Android powers Boxer8's Ouya, PlayJam's GameStick and Nvidia's Project Shield

“The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated”

Mark Twain

Smartphones and Tablets are killing off everything as prognosticated in my Geezam blog article entitled “How the Apple iPad killed Ultrabooks, Printing and the Mouse as the World Rediscovers Tablets”, with Android leading the Charge. Folks, this is basically the power of Open Source on Display as Open Source is finally getting its day in the sun.

It’s only fitting that the same thing that heralding the death of these products is fuelling it gradual resurrection from near Dead as in the case of Video Game Consoles as predicted in my Geezam blog article entitled “Console Gaming’s Downfall – Future is up in the Clouds”. I’m of course referring to the Open Source Open Architecture Google Android powered Video Gaming Console Ouya.

Designed by American Game Console Developer Boxer8, they launched their on Kickstarter Campaign for US$900,000 on July 2012 with a simple idea: Bring back Gaming Consoles from near Death to a HDMI capable TV set near you as at a price everyone can afford noted in the article “Game Console Ouya to bring Gaming back to the TV”, published July 10, 2012 6:43 AM PDT by Donna Tam, CNET News.

Smartphones began with Google Android, who stole Apple iPhone’s Thunder. So it’s quite fitting that Gaming Consoles are seeing something of a low cost revival via the development of a US$99 Open Source Gaming Console Ouya by Gaming veteran and Boxer8 Founder Julie Uhrman.

Her Kickstarter campaign to raise funds already had achieved its lofty goal of US$900,000 in less than one day, hitting the stratospheric heights of US$2.5 million on the July 10th 2012 as stated in “Open-source Ouya Gaming platform killing it on Kickstarter”, published July 10, 2012 11:06 PM PDT by Eric Mack, CNET News.

By August 2012, they’d stopped their campaign after achieving a phenomenal US$8.5 million dollars, a strong indication of the level of support an interest in the idea of an Open Source Gaming Console as stated in the article “Ouya Console ends Kickstarter campaign $8.5 million richer”, published August 9, 2012 8:24 AM PDT by Rich Brown, CNET News.

Her company’s business model, curiously enough, is a lot like Apple's App Developer model, with a 70/30 split between Game Developers and Boxer8, the builders of the Open Source Ouya Console. Games are based on the Freemium model as described in my Geezam blog article entitled “Smartphones and Apps – Freemium Games are No. 1”, with ability to try games first before buying them at prices significantly lower than currently is available in the Gaming World.

But more interestingly is the Open Source and Open Architecture part of the Ouya Game Console's design; it built to be modified, both in terms of using Open Source Google Android, which means it's capable of playing Games from the Google Play App Store straight out of the box and then fact that it's easy to physically open up and modify.

Boxer8 Founder Julie Uhrman and her team have now released their US$699 Ouya Dev Console package for those who funded their development from a very successful Kickstarter campaign as noted in “Ouya game Consoles now on their way to Developers”, published December 28, 2012 9:10 AM PST by Lance Whitney, CNET News. The Ouya Dev Console package contains the following goodies:

1.      An official welcome letter
2.      Translucent Ouya Gaming Console
3.      2 translucent controllers with batteries
4.      Power adapter
5.      HDMI cable
6.      Micro-USB cable

The Fully developed Ouya Gaming Console, which reminds me of a much smaller version of the Nintendo GameCube, can be ordered from Ouya Purchase page for US$99, with US$30 for an extra Controller.

Already Ouya’s got competition with yet another Kickstarter funded Google Android powered Gaming Console aptly titled GameStick. GameStick’s Console-in-a-Controller design concept being developed by British Game Console Developer PlayJam and now seeking fund on Kickstarter since January 2013, seems to have more in common with the Raspberry Pi than an actual Gaming Console as reported in “GameStick Portable Gaming Console cruises on Kickstarter”, published January 4, 2013 1:29 PM PST by Eric Mack, CNET News.
Their concept is blessedly simple, as it’s also aimed at making Console Gaming on HDMI capable TV Sets possible. The GameStick, which PlayJam has decided to sell for US$99, consists of a Controller with a Swiss Army knife foldout USB Controlled shaped Gaming Console.

Once removed, it slides into any HDMI (High Definition Media Input) port on any TV and communicates back to the Game Controller via Bluetooth to create a Gaming Console that’s completely wireless and very Portable. Sorta like a USB Stick computer as described in my Geezam blog article entitledFX Tech debuts Cotton Candy – Sweet Android Gingerbread USB Stick Mini PC” and also Kemory’s  Geezam blog article entitled “Turn your TV into a “Smart TV” running Android 4.1”.

The specs are not too shabby either:

1.      Amlogic 8726-MX Processor
2.      Android Jelly Bean OS
3.      1GB DDR3/8GB FLASH Memory
4.      Content Download Manager with cloud storage for games.
5.      802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
6.      Full 1080p HD video decoding
7.      Bluetooth version 4.0
8.      Support for up to four controllers via Bluetooth, namely a three-mode Controller, gamepad, mouse, and keyboard 

The portability and wireless Controller of these Open Source Gaming Consoles nature makes a strong selling point for both Ouya and GameStick. Coupled with the fact that they are powered by Google Android and thus able to play any Google Play App Store Game (albeit not legally!) available via the Cloud, I’m compelled to finally declare that the Gaming Industry is both saved and Screwed. Depending, of course, on whether Nintendo and Sony PlayStation will play nice and port their Games to these Open Source Google Android based Portable Gaming Consoles,

The same resurrecting power of Google Android seems poised to breathe life back not only into Console Gaming but also handheld Gaming, also dying at the hands of the Mobile Computing Revolution, also as predicted in my Geezam blog article entitled “Nintendo and Sony vs Smartphones and Tablets: Post – Portable Gaming Era”.

This as Nvidia’s announced Project Shield at CES 2013 earlier in the First week of January 2013, their first foray into the world of Handheld Gaming World powered by a Quad-Core Tegra 4 Chipset as noted in Kelroy’s Geezam blog article entitled “Nvidia shows off “Project Shield” mobile Gaming Console”.

Nvidia thus represents the first tech heavyweight to throw themselves behind the idea of Developing and Open Source Google Android based Handheld as noted in the article “Nvidia announces own 'Shield' Gaming device at CES”, published January 6, 2013 9:36 PM PST by Jessica Dolcourt, CNET News and “Nvidia’s Shield stole CES, but we aren’t sold yet”, published January 14, 2013, By Ryan Fleming, DigitalTrends

Hopefully the Big Gaming Developers will take heed and design their own Open Source and Open Architecture Gaming Consoles or face accelerated extinction at the hands of these debutantes.

Samsung comes to mind as an example of a company that used Google Android to power itself to meteoric success as noted in the stats from analysts Gartner in  Samsung outdoes Apple 2-to-1 in smartphones; Nokia falters”, published October 26, 2012 5:45 AM PDT by Don Reisinger, CNET News and IDC in “Smartphone sales up 47 percent as Android increases its lead”, published November 14, 2012 3:21 AM PST by Zack Whittaker, CNET News.

Now of course Samsung is making yet another foray by partnering with Intel and rebuilding the MeeGo Project into its own Open Source smartphone and Tablet OS named Tizen as stated in my blog article entitled “Samsung's Tizen, Firefox OS and Ubuntu OS to unseat Google Android by 2015 - How Linux and HTML 5 are Oz the Great and Powerful for Open Source”.

Open Source and HTML5 friendly Firefox OS  and Ubuntu OS are also vying for the hearts and minds of smartphone users, Mobile Handset makers and Telecom Operators, albeit they have to speed up their development cycles and have device ready before year end supported by major low-cost handset makers, such as Huawei. All in a bid for a slice of the App Economy Pie owned by Apple App Store and Google Play App Store and the rapidly growing Mobile Computing market globally.

The same thing is now happening in the Console and Portable Gaming world funded by Kickstarter. The Stand Up Guys (2012) are making Open Source and Open Architecture a $ellebrity (2012) by Kickstarting the design of Console and Portable Gaming systems that are Wireless and Portable. And based on the response on Kickstarter to both of these Projects, it’s exactly what the Gaming Developer and Gaming Community wanted all along.

Apple, where are you with regards to the Development of a USB Stick Computer that’s portable and can play high-end Video Games?