Back in May of this year the DailyMail ran an article discussing how the HackRF by Great Scott Gadgets could be used to break into cars. The DailyMail is a British tabloid magazine well known for its low credibility and alarmist articles. This week they ran a new article about Great Scott Gadgets other product, the Yard Stick One. In the article they discuss how the £109 Yard Stick One tool can be used to disable wireless burglar alarms. The YARD Stick One is not an SDR, but rather a computer controlled radio which can be used to transmit and receive wireless digital signals below 1 GHz. It is useful for wireless security research and reverse engineering digital signals in a way that is a bit easier than with using an SDR like the HackRF.
In the experiment performed in the article they use the YARD Stick one to jam a wireless home alarm for a few seconds allowing entry to the property without setting off the alarm. All in all the article is a good advert for the YARD Stick One, and does do a decent job at drawing attention to the lack of security provided by many wireless security devices.
Recently we heard about the PandwaRF Portable Analyzer (previously known as the GollumRF). This is not an SDR, but can probably be described as a programmable and computer controlled radio. It appears to be based on the Yardstick One design which is made by Micheal Ossmann, the creator of the HackRF. Both the Yardstick One and PandwaRF are based on the CC1111 sub-1 GHz RF transceiver chip. These types of pseudo-sdr’s can be very useful for reverse engineerin, analyzing and experimenting with simple digital signals.
For example it could be used to capture data from any ASK/OOK/MSK/2-FSK/GFSK modulation in the 300 – 928 MHz band. You can then easily analyze the data, and the restransmit the same or a modified signal. The same could be done with a TX capable SDR like the HackRF, but doing so tends to require a lot more work.
The difference between the Yardstick One and PandwaRF appears to be mainly in the connection interface. The PandwaRF is essentially the Yardstick One with a Bluetooth LE connectivity and an Android/iOS smartphone app. USB connectivity for Linux still exists. It also has an internal battery whereas the Yardstick One does not. They wrote a post comparing the RTL-SDR, Yardstick One and PandwaRF here.
The device seems to be new, as it just starting shipping in November and the first batch is still being sold. It costs 145 euros and appears to originate from the EU. There is also a ‘mini’ version in pre-order which also costs 145 euros. In comparison the Yardstick One costs about $99 – $145 USD depending on the shop you choose.
Toorcon is a yearly conference that focusus on information security related topics. At the 2015 Toorcon conference Micheal Ossmann (inventor of the HackRF SDR) gave an interesting talk about reverse engineering wireless systems using software defined radio.
Back in November Micheal gave a bit of a quick tutorial on reverse engineering in a November edition of the YouTube web series Hak5. Now his full conference talk has been released over on his website. In his talk he uses a HackRF and a Yardstick One to show how to reverse engineer a wireless cabinet lock.
Over on YouTube the popular security and hacking themed channel Hak5 have created two videos together with Mike Ossmann (creator of the HackRF and Yardstick One) that give a good introduction and overview on reverse engineering unknown radio protocols. In the video they show how to use a SDR like the RTL-SDR or HackRF to initially capture the radio signal, and then how to use the Yardstick One to reverse engineer and recreate the signal. Using this process they reverse engineer the radio protocol for a wireless liquor cabinet lock.
The Yardstick One is a computer controlled wireless transceiver (but it is not an SDR). The Yardstick One understands many radio protocols by default and can be programmed in Python, lowering the learning barrier for reverse engineering signals.
On this weeks episode of Hak5, a popular electronics and hacking YouTube show, the presenters talk about reverse engineering and performing replay attacks on wireless devices such as a doorbell. They also talk about using the recently released Yardstick One which is a PC controlled wireless transceiver that understands multiple modulation techniques (ASK, OOK, GFSK, 2-FSK, 4-FSK, MSK) and works on multiple bands (300-348 MHz, 391-464 MHz, and 782-928 MHz), but is not a software defined radio.
Finally they discuss how to use the RTL-SDR and GQRX to stream received audio over a UDP network connection using netcat in Linux.
If you are interested in the Yardstick one, Hak5 also uploaded two earlier episodes this month showing how to use the Yardstick one, and how to hack wireless remotes by using the RTL-SDR to do the initial reverse engineering, and then using the Yarstick One to do the transmitting.