Government detecting outernet devices

I heard that intelligence agencies and cyber security experts can hunt down anyone using outernet under 10 minutes. Is that true? Or at least is that theoretically possible?

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So the government is supposedly able to detect a receiver? I don’t see how that’s even remotely possible. They would have to be looking for you already.

Yes, the LO in the LNB and the microprocessor radiate just a little, but that’s a very weak signal. I don’t think I can detect these from 30-100 feet away with some pretty sensitive instruments and a highly directional antenna.

–Konrad, WA4OSH

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why would they do that?

As to why - - as Zoltan asks - - to find you in a country censoring news and wanting to prevent you from learning about current events, it’s a real possibility. Technically - - as Konrad says - - it is not easy.

But harken back to the Outernet “heartbeat” sending location signal strength reports back to Chicago. There’s an issue needing to be addressed. Several Forum members have mentioned this before, and asked if the “heartbeat” function could be better handled in Skylark as an option.

Something to think about. Ken

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They could detect the wifi signal as they drive around.

Jason

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Just change the WIFI Name and it looks like any ordinary wifi router.

regards,
Manuel

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But the heartbeat required Internet to get back to Chicago. I agree it should be optional.

–Konrad, WA4OSH

If I was in some remote (s-hole?) country where they execute people for this … I would want to be able to turn off the SSID beacon.

–Konrad, WA4OSH

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This might interest you…
spying on information systems through leaking emanations

–Konrad, WA4OSH

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Okay, so any heterodyne receiver leaks a bit of the local oscillator (LO) signal back out the “wrong port” of the mixer, and out the receiving antenna. Sometimes more than a bit. That’s how the first-generation “radar detector detector” devices worked, and it’s how MobilTrak advertising works. It’s ostensibly how the TV-police in the UK would detect TVs and then compare them against the list of TVs they’d been paid for, and pursue the unlicensed ones.

The LO in any satellite LNB is probably detectable at some distance, but the strength off-axis would be determined by the radiation pattern of the antenna feed. Main boresight, sidelobes, all the usual. Outernet 3.0 is using a standard TV LNB, so assuming someone was looking for that signal, it would look like any other satellite-TV receiver. The LO frequency doesn’t vary depending on what signal you’re receiving, which is nice. If it’s legal in your location to have a satellite-TV receiver, simply get one that uses the same LNB type as Outernet, and set it up as a “decoy”.

It might be interesting to experiment with “choke rings” or shades/shields that would attenuate the off-axis signal, and if satellite TV is illegal in your country, surely there’s already an underground knowledge-base of how to do this.

On the wifi side, Outernet looks just like any other wifi AP. Nothin’ special. A little weak, even. Change the SSID and you should be good to go. If you’re concerned that someone may be looking for the specific brand (Ethernet MAC OID) of wifi dongles shipped with Dreamcatcher, just use ifconfig to change the interface MAC. Random values are likely to be invalid and stick out like a sore thumb, so copy the OID of another manufacturer and just randomize the last 3 bytes.

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Thanks everyone, Your answers were very helpful :slightly_smiling_face:

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Good thing that Outernet has no dish… Here what lengths people in the UK and Germany have to do in order to “loose” their internet dish:

Austria…hiding a dish behind glass … the right kind of glass

–Konrad, WA4OSH

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Who is so stupid and tries to hide their dish in germany for example?

There is no rule in Germany for that and almost every house here has at least one 60-80cm dish on the roof.

For me that makes no sense at all…only in countries that banned Dishes or similar this is rational.

Also: Dishes look cool :sunglasses: #atLeastForHamsAndSoOn

regards from cologne (Germany),
Manuel

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I don’t know Manuel. I used to live in Germany as a kid. There was a law where all radios and TVs had to be registred. All of my cousins live in Germany. Don’t you pay taxes on TV’s, radios, satellite dishes, etc?

–Konrad, WA4OSH

Manuel,
Here in the US, we have 47 CFR 1.4000

Over-the-Air Reception Devices Rule

In practice, Home Owner Associations for homes and residences and town homes or condos frown on satellite dishes, TV antennas and any antenna, especially ham radio antennas of all sourts. This is all despite many websites that say what HOAs should allow:

Satellite Dish Antenna Rules

Although home owner associations’ rules against satellite dishes are too broad and are unenforceable, they still come with massive challenges, hassle-factor and often legal settlements. I will have to ask for permission to have a satellite receiver outside at my townhome. It will take weeks to get approved.

–Konrad, WA4OSH

Everyone in Germany has to pay “Rundfunkgebühren”, even if you don’t have a TV. This is a License fee for any tv, radio and so on that is payed by the country. But that’s it. You can have as many Satellite receivers, radios or other deviced that receive tv/radio as you like.

I know that there are some settlements where you are not allowed to setup your own dish, but that is quite rare for houses in my experience. If you live in an apartment there can be a rule that you are not allowed to use your own Dish, but they most often have one Dish at the roof for all that you can use for a small fee. Or they provide a cable tv connection that you then get tv over after paying a provider.

regarding Antennas: You need a permit for large antennas (mostly over 1.2m) in some parts of germany. Here in NRW you can use a dish with up to 1.2m on a height of max. 10m without a permit.

regards,
Manuel

…so yes, there is a need all over the world for stealth antennas.

It’s a major issue here in the US for places that have a Home Owners Association (HOA) or Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&R)

http://www.arrl.org/restrictive-antenna-ordinances

–Konrad, WA4OSH

mmm… would be interesting to know how that is handeld in other countrys in the EU and around the World.
In germany there is no real need for something like a hidden Dish if you have your own house.

i have read many of the rules for antennas for the different parts / states in germany and mostly all are allowing Antennas up to 10m in height including the pole/mast and mostly 1.2m in diameter without a permit.

FYI :slight_smile:

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I think it is worth while getting back to the original point for awhile. Our new Outernet device will be using a naked LNB (no dish). That said, the LNB will radiate a bit and so will the Outernet hotspot, so these are the things we need to mitigate.

My guess is there won’t be enough signal emanated to be detectable, but that is something we all need to check when we get equipment up and running. Ken

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