I don’t know about others here, but I think it would be awesome to see some hardware hacking how-tos! I would certainly be interested in the basics! I have a friend that would probably also be interested in them. I’ve recently been wondering how exactly you would go about hacking a cell (not smart) phone. I would love to see a how-to on that! I myself have a $5 Alcatel bar-phone, and it would be cool to see how the inside software works.
If you’re interested in something and someone isn’t doing it, why don’t you? This has several advantages:
- You get to contribute to the community.
- You learn by doing.
- You establish the foundation for future members’ interest/education in the field.
I thought about trying to make some extreme beginner How-tos, but I’d have to find somewhere to learn first. I’ll talk to my friend about it too, maybe we can make some.
If you want to do this on your own, start off with some cheap or used phones/computer that have pretty much no value.
What do you have in mind when you talk about hacking a cell phone?
Well I thought hardware-hacking of course, since they don’t connect to WiFi or Bluetooth, or mobile Data. If there’s a way to access through the USB connection, that would be cool. I wouldn’t be surprised if I had to take it apart though and connect something to the inner workings. If I got an adapter type thing, I could probably pull the “hard drive” out of the phone and directly connect it through USB to my computer.
Sounds very interesting, but writing a how to on that topic, one that could be useful for you, may be very tricky. I’m afraid that pre-smartphones were not as homogeneous as nowadays phones. Still today there are differences between the terminals from different manufacturers but before it was even more.
If you haven’t found any details on how to access those files via software, then indeed you can open the thingy at your own risk and take a look, but be ready to destroy the device. There are many chances it will not work again, specially if you do not have the right tools… Also be ready to probably see a single board with a lot of chips difficult to identify and many of them under some metal cover or epoxy. If you are lucky:
- You may found the memory chip (that is very unlikely) and to get the part number to find its datasheet and figure out which pins you have to work with to read the memory.
- You may found a Serial Port for servicing. This usually have contact pines on the board instead of a connector. Usually there is no serigraphy saying… “Hey!, this is the service serial port”
- You may find a JTAG port to use standard hardware debugging tools
I’m a complete n00b myself on this topic, specially because, mostly at the beginning, it requires ridiculous amounts of time before you start to see advances… and also it becomes expensive when you break things down while trying.
Good luck and hope you share what do you find in this adventure!!!
Serial pins on a smartphone would be very small and I doubt there are any.
Reverse engineering is something smartphone manufracturers will try to prevent as much as possible. Nevertheless, one way or another they must’ve used this or JTAG, or something else to put the stuff on the chips (I think) @Phoenix750 Am I right?
That being said, you don’t know till you’ve opened it, though I suggest hardware hacking bigger hardware, like printers or old routers might be a better start in hardware hacking. Routers is something I’ve tried myself though I failed a few times, I should pick it up some time again ^^
@CtrlAltDelete I’ll make a Hardware section in the Hacking category!
EDIT: Perhaps in this category? https://0x00sec.org/c/How-to/hardware
I tried to be generic. USB is serial and JTAG is also serial… As you said there is no room for a parallel port.
I agree with @unh0lys0da. Starting with a router is probably way simpler. Otherwise those are some links that may interest you:
- A couple of DIY GSM phones to grasp the basics of that a cell phone is:
- This is another nice post on a more modest hack for starters
- Sometimes, proprietary connectors hide plain serial ports
@unh0lys0da you are right. Phone manufacturers implement all kinds of stuff to make reverse engineering their hardware nearly impossible. In order to put the firmware on the microcontrollers, they use their own secret programmers, so no JTAG or PICkit programmers ;).
@CtrlAltDelete, fear not! Like unh0ly said, it is best to start with old routers and stuff, but I will write hardware hacking tutorials soon! I will first cover the basics of electricity/electronics, and I will teach stuff like building our own gadgets from scratch and how to read firmware from courant chips! But before doing anything, I strongly advice that you follow my series that I will write very soon!
Okay, thankyou for all of your responses! It sounds very difficult to hack a phone! I may look into hacking larger things, but I think I will wait to see Phoenix’s tutorials, they should be very interesting!