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How Mobile Phone Masts Work

19.11.15

Masts, antennae and base stations

Mobile phone mastStrictly speaking a mast is just that, a tower or pole that sticks up into the air – usually 15m.  The parts that actually enable us to send and receive calls are separate elements; antennaes and radio base stations.  The mast itself simply lifts the antennae to height where they can transmit and receive radio waves.

When you make a call your phone converts voice or data into radio waves that are transmitted to the nearest base station.  The base station determines if the call is to another mobile phone or to a landline and routes the call accordingly.  If it is to someone on the same network then the call can be directed via base stations to the site closest to the recipient and transmitted via the antennae.

The role of Cells
The mobile phone network operates on the cell principle.  The network operators divide a territory up into thousands (in the case of the UK) of discrete areas – cells – that contain a base station and antennae, plus a mast if required.  Each cell provides coverage for a specific area and because their coverage overlaps calls can be passed between cells as people move around.

Cell density and positioning are driven by population distribution and topography.  There are more cells in urban area to cater for higher traffic levels and, sometimes, to mitigate interference caused by tall buildings.  Low power cells called “picocells” can also be deployed inside buildings such as airports where there is a high concentration of users.

Cell Site Analysis
How mobile networks work and the way in which they are configured are extremely important to Disklabs. We need to understand the coverage of the mobile networks in precise detail when conducting Cell Site Analysis, a technique for identifying the movement and use of mobile phones and communications devices.  Details about height of masts, local geography and cell types can mean the difference between a guilty or not guilty verdict, or whether a suspect is apprehended.

Visit the website for more information on Disklabs range of digital forensics and data recovery services or contact us today.

Call us on +44(0)1827 50000 or use our contact form to let us know your requirements.

 

 

Top Ten Unusual Requests for Data Recovery – No.4

17.11.15

Data Recovery Hit Parade

restore data from damaged laptop disk driveNumber 4 in Disklabs countdown of odd request for data recovery from laptop computers.

“Our cat peed on my laptop”

The fact that the feline in question was a pedigree Persian Blue didn’t make any difference.  The encroachment of liquid into the computer didn’t do it any good.  Fortunately the disk drive in the laptop wasn’t damaged inn the process and, for once, it was a very straight forward job to access data and save the client’s data.

Call us today on +44(0)1827 50000 or use our contact form if you need help restoring important or confidential data from your electronic equipment.

 

Disklabs – Computer forensics for civil and criminal cases

 

Protect your passwords

13.11.15

A point of vulnerability

protect your password from attackTalk Talk, Experian and Ashley Madison are high profile victims of cyber crime but the hackers target individuals directly too.  One major area of vulnerability is the reliance for security on a simple collection of letters, numbers and symbols: the password.

Those in the know use the phrase “password cracking” to describe the penetration of a computer, network or system to unlock a resource that has been locked with a password. People using password cracking are sometimes defined as being in one of two groups, hackers or attackers.

A hacker is any person with an inherent interest in computer technology. Hackers are not necessarily someone who wants to do harm, just someone who wants to ‘beat a system’.  They have been know to gain access to a website simply to post a picture of a cat but in gaining access they may damage an individual or organisation by, for instance, making confidential data visible.

Attackers , on the other hand, gain access to cause damage. Motivations for Attackers can range from disgruntled employees trying to get revenge on a former company, a student simply trying to exploit large organisations with their computer systems, or simply a criminal attempt to gain financially by accessing confidential data or through blackmail.

Whether they are hackers or attackers the initial attention is on finding a vulnerability in the computer system they are targetting, corporate or domestic. And the most vulnerable point is the password.

So how do the attackers attack?

There are many ways of attacking a network including:

1.  Bin, (or dumpster), diving – literally going through the rubbish to find possible information that could be a password.

2. Finding a Post-It note on a monitor or underneath a keyboard.

3. Looking at Social Media profiles for details like birth dates, schools, children’s names that are often used in log-in processes.

4. Contacting an IT or customer service department, using relevant facts gained from the above, to fool staff in to providing extra details or password resets.

5. Direct contact via email or phone asking people for details or getting them to log-on to a site (a dummy site) which means they expose their details.

6. A “dictionary attack” where a dictionary file of common words is loaded into a password cracking application, such as PRTK or LC4. The applications then attempt multiple logins at very high speed exploiting the fact that most common passwords are simplistic.

7. A “hybrid attack”combining the dictionary attack with the use of numbers to simulate common password set-up.

8. A “brute force attack”, which abandons the subtlety of the dictionary to target a massive number of short password.

What can you do to prevent password attacks

1.Shred office paper waste and consider doing the same for official documents, receipts etc. at home.

2. Check that passwords or ancillary information is not displayed anywhere.

3. Change passwords frequently.  At work change passwords when employees leave.

4. Use difficult to guess passwords – At least 8 characters including numbers, symbols, uppercase and lowercase characters.

5. Consider using free password generator software such as LastPass.

6. Don’t use the same password for more multiple accounts.

7. Enable two step verification where offered on websites.

8. Be aware that there are people out there who want your passwords and never give details away to callers, email contacts or on social media sites…ever.

9. Use dummy accounts rather than administrator accounts for computer systems and websites.

Disklabs has an experienced team of consultants who can advise you on improving your digital security.  We also run one of the UK’s leading digital forensics laboratories that can help you track down the perpetrators of malicious password attacks and bring them to justice.

Call us today on +44(0)1827 50000 or use our contact form to discuss your digital security requirements.

 

Disklabs - Experts in the extraction and analysis of mobile phone data

Top Ten Unusual Requests for Data Recovery – No.5

09.11.15

Data Recovery Hit Parade

retrieve data from your broken motorola phoneNumber 5 in Disklabs countdown of odd request for data recovery from electronic equipment.

“The wife got stroppy and snapped it in half”

To be fair the lady in question thought that her husband was having an affair.  The phone was one of the old clamshell types so she wasn’t displaying quite such an expression of outrage as if it had been an iPhone.  Even so we only received half of the offending device. Fortunately the section with the working parts.

In this case we were able to analyse the sorry remains and retrieve all of the text messages and contacts from the phone.

Call us today on +44(0)1827 50000 or use our contact form if you need help recovering data from a broken (accidentally or on purpose) mobile phone or smart phone.

 

Disklabs – One of the UK’s leading mobile phone network cell site analysis providers

 

Image courtesy of OptoScalpel via wikimedia commons

Computer Forensics IP Theft

02.11.15

Have you been a victim of IP theft?

Disklabs computer forensics IP theftThe theft of intellectual property right (IP) can be hard to prove and even harder to prosecute. Realistically it will take services of a computer forensics company such as Disklabs to provide the victim of IP theft with the skills and resources to gather hard evidence to support their accusations.

IP theft is a complex subject to approach as laws can differ significantly between jurisdictions. Disklabs can provide advice and guidance upon the best way to pursue the investigation into the theft of your intellectual property. Computer forensics techniques such as those perfected by Disklabs are being used more and more as a way to acquire sufficient evidence to support a claim of intellectual property theft.

There are as many reasons for somebody committing IP theft as there are forms of IP theft, regardless of the reason the crime was committed, every instance of IP theft can represent a major financial loss for the victim. Disgruntled employees will often perform malicious acts of IP theft such as e-mailing a customer list to a competing company or deleting mission-critical data such as invoices and other accounting data. At its most serious IP theft sees a member of the executive management team stealing an entire business model to use as a basis for a new commercial venture.

If you suspect that you have been a victim of IP theft you should instantly turn off the computer which was the tool used during the crime, not simply by shutting it down but by physically unplugging it from the mains. You should then take measures to secure the entire machine; it should be locked in a safe place where nobody can gain access to it. Once these initial measures have been taken you should try to make a note of or list any suspicious activities that you have witnessed or any data or documents you think may have been stolen. Then you should contact a computer forensics provider and arrange for the suspected IP theft to be investigated. The result of this forensics analysis will provide you with a technical document in proving or disapproving your suspicions, and arming you with the tools to take your accusations further.

In many cases once the crime of IP theft can be proven by documented technical fact the perpetrator will return what was stolen. If they do not, then the victim company is already in possession of the relevant proof and can begin to instruct their legal representatives to take proceedings.

If you believe you have been a victim of IP theft then call us today on +44(0)1827 50000 or use our contact form – Disklabs can help.

 

Disklabs – Investigating and preventing computer misuse for UK business.