Over on YouTube the channel Budapest Hackerspace has recently uploaded a talk by Piotr Krysik which was given during the August 2016 Camp++ 0x7e0 information security conference. The talk is titled: “GSM signal sniffing for everyone with gr-gsm and Multi-RTL by Piotr Krysik” and talks about using the gr-gsm software and RTL-SDR dongles to sniff the GSM mobile phone network. Also, a tool developed by Piotr called multi-rtl which allows the proper synchronization of multiple RTL-SDR dongles in order to cover the large gap between the GSM uplink and downlink frequencies is discussed.
The talk explains a bit about how GSM works, and then goes on to talk about the gr-gsm and multi-rtl software. The talk blurb reads:
Gr-gsm is a set of tools for receiving GSM transmissions, which works with any software radio hardware capable of receiving GSM signal. Together with widely available RTL2832 based TV dongles, that are popularly used as low cost software radio receivers (known as RTL-SDR), it enables everyone to receive and study protocols used in GSM’s mobile radio interface.
Ability to receive signals spread over wide frequency range exceeding single RTL-SDR receiver’s bandwidth (~2.4MHz) was available exclusively for the owners of more capable and more expensive SDR devices. With introduction of Multi-RTL project by the author of the talk, this limit was overcome through synchronization of multiple RTL-SDR receivers in time domain, that doesn’t require complicated hardware modifications. With Muli-RTL it is possible to receive for example uplink and downlink of GSM900 transmissions, that are separated by 45MHz.
Speaker will present origins of both of the projects, together with description of their inner workings, examples of applications and plans for the future.
The talk slides can be downloaded here.
Camp++ 0x7e0 // GSM signal sniffing for everyone with gr-gsm and Multi-RTL by Piotr Krysik
Over on YouTube user Crazy Danish Hacker has been working on uploading an entire series on GSM Sniffing with an RTL-SDR. His series is explained in a slow and clear presenting style, and it starts at the very beginning from installing the RTL-SDR. The tutorial series is not yet complete, however he is uploading a new video almost daily. Presumably the series will end with showing you how to receive text messages and voice calls originating from your own cellphone.
So far he has shown how to install the RTL-SDR, identify GSM downlinks, install and use GQRX and kalibrate, locate nearby cell towers, install and use GR-GSM and how to extract the TMSI & KC keys from your cell phone. To obtain the TMSI & KC keys he shows us how to use an Android tool called usbswitcher which forces the phone to use its USB modem interface, from which the keys can be obtained.
The video below shows his teaser video on the series. Check out his GSM playlist to view the full series.
GSM Sniffing Teaser – Software Defined Radio Series!
Over a year ago we wrote a tutorial on how to analyze GSM cellular phone signals using a RTL-SDR, a Linux computer with GNU Radio, Wireshark and a GSM decoder called Airprobe. With this combination it is possible to easily decode GSM system messages. Setting up Airprobe is can be difficult as it is unmaintained and incompatible with the new version of GNU Radio without patches.
Now a new software package called gr-gsm has been released on GitHub which seems to be a newer and improved version of Airprobe. The gr-gsm software is also much easier to install, uses the newer GNU Radio 3.7 and seems to decode the system data with much less trouble than Airprobe did. We will soon update our tutorial to use gr-gsm, but the instructions on the GitHub are already quite good. The author of gr-gsm also appears to be actively adding new features to the software as well. The video below shows gr-gsm in action.
Sniffing GSM data with gr-gsm and cheap RTL-SDR receivers