Getting to Know Telecommunication

It has been almost 6 weeks already since my job attachment here in a mobile telecommunication company. As a CISCO certified person, I am appointed as an IT technician who troubleshoots pc and networks around Sabah region. During my stay, I started to speculate on the things they do here. How do they provide services to subscribers located around the region? What technologies do they use to provide these services? How do wireless broadband work? What is telecommunication? All these questions started to build up so I took the effort to conduct my own research on the subject.

Although telecommunication is a totally different field from my IT/networking background, there are still some similarities. For one which is the most obvious, the company I’m at uses CISCO devices for their interconnection too. This is because they also provide data transmission services other than voice transmission. So I am going to spend some time here to explain briefly what I have researched so far. Good stuff…

Today telecommunication is all about providing wireless connection to wide range of areas around the globe with great transmission speeds. Although fixed lines are still widely used, mobile communication has grown rapidly that led to the significant decline in fixed network subscriptions. This leads me to believe that being in the mobile industry is and will be secure for a very long time. But nevertheless, both fixed lines and mobile communication are both extension to the word telecommunication; transmission of messages over significant distances for the purpose of communication. So how did it all began?

Earlier signs of telecommunication started when the electrical telegraph was invented in the 1840s. A telegraph is used to communicate over long distance by using Morse code. Then came the conventional telephone in 1876 which is now in use worldwide. The invention of radio in the late 19th century and television in the early 20th century has played an important role in wireless communication. At that time, only voice was transmitted through the transmission medium. Now in the digital age, we have packet switching (transmission of data packets) which then made the Internet possible.

Mobile Telecommunication Company for example Maxis, Celcom and Digi provide communication services to mobile devices which may move around freely unlike Telekom who provides fixed line network. These services include wireless telephony and broadband internet services. To be able to provides these services, wireless standards have to be used. These standards are like GSM, CDMA, UMTS and WiMAX. More on these technologies in my next post.

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Stop using WEP, use WPA2

The wireless LAN or wifi provides us an alternative way to connect to the Internet provided that your wireless device is in range of a wireless network. More people are utilizing this method to connect to the Internet since it is really easy to use. Wifi is so popular that not only Starbucks but coffee shops are providing wifi for their customer to use. But what most people are not aware of is the security wifi provides that would cause harm to their devices connected to the wifi or worst get charged for network criminal activities.

That is why it is important to encrypt their wireless routers with passwords. There are some wireless encryption standards that can be used which are WEP, WPA, WPA2. WEP has been shown to be easily breakable when correctly configured. WPA and WPA2 are much more stronger encryption than WEP. Most people would use WEP since most wireless routers default password encryption is WEP and they probably wouldn’t know the difference between those encryption standards anyway. WEP is so easy to break that some are using their neighbors wifi to connect to the Internet.

I wanted to know how to break the WEP encryption to see how easy it was. So I started googleing and I found that I don’t need to write actual codes to break it. There are programs on the Internet that helps you to do this. One that works is Aircrack-ng. It can be done on most operating systems but it works better on a Linux distribution. Here are few of the links that are useful:

I’m not encouraging to break into someone wifi and use their Internet access. Let’s put it this way, I want the world to know that WEP is not secure. So use WPA2 instead :)

Happy cracking…

(In the end I did not managed to crack the WEP encryption because my wireless adapter is Intel)

Network traffic monitor for Ubuntu

I am currently working on my Python project as a requirement of my final year project. The project is a small application that works on the panel applet of the Ubuntu OS. It monitors network traffic by different application layer protocols for example http, ftp, smtp and telnet and displays any network activity for that particular protocol in a graphical view.

I have always wanted to build an application with Python since its widely used in open source operating systems. This will give me an opportunity to work in an open source environment. Python by the way is an open source programming language.

I am a big fan of the Ubuntu operating system ever since I installed it on my computer for the first time in 2007. My first Ubuntu distribution was 7.04: Feisty Fawn and I was captivated by its beauty and it opened my eyes to the world of open source. And that is the reason why I wanted to work in an open source environment.

My project is still in its initial stages and I hope that the prototype will be up and running somewhere around August this year. Will be submitting my project on sourceforge.net so that I could get some feedbacks from the community. Well, I hope that this project will go well as planed.