Chances Are Your Router’s Firmware Blows

Linksys WRT-54G RouterYou surely have a lock on your front door. Do you have such a lock on your network? Though you may think so, but it may well be wholly unlocked. Or at least, you may not be able to know for certain that it’s locked. If you use a commercial Wi-Fi router from your ISP, or one of the big names like Linksys, Belkin, DLink et al, your network may not be as secure as you think.

At the outset let me state that, as someone who reads hereabouts, you’re no dummy. You’ve taken steps to ensure that the router doesn’t still have  the default admin password. You’re using modern encryption on your Wi-Fi. You’re being responsible, but there are things beyond your grasp.

The simple fact is that the firmware the runs most retail, commercial routers is closed source. As such, you have no ready way to verify it’s behavior. Yet, the manufacturer, by virtue of necessity, uses various common software modules to create their firmware. They may even use some open source modules, but end up with an closed source binary in the end.

The upshot of this reality is that you have a very small team of developers responsible for maintaining the code. That means updates come along slowly, if at all for older devices. By extension, serious security issues get addressed slowly, if they ever get addressed at all.

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VUC500: A Special Event Featuring Dr. Henning Schulzrinne

Friday, August 1st will see Dr. Henning Schulzrinne appearing as our featured guest for the 500th(!) edition of the VoIP Users Conference. While presently the CTO of the FCC, Dr. Schulzrinne has along history as a pioneer in the field of real-time communications over IP networks. He is responsible for the creation of such protocols as RTP and RTSP, and co-creator of SIP. He is a co-chair of the Internet Technical Committee of the IEEE Communications Society. His name appears on numerous RFCs.

In 2013 Dr. Schulzrinne was inducted into the Internet Hall Of Fame. The following clip is his acceptance speech from that ceremony. I offer it in the hope that it will help inspire some good questions.

The technical part of this weeks exercise will involve the use of Jitsi Video Bridge (http://jitsi.org) to host the call instead of our usual G+ Hangout. Thus we’ll be taking a pure, open source, WebRTC approach to things. Given a limited number of seats on the Jitsi video bridge they are by invitation only.

To allow more people to watch the call the Jitsi Video Bridge feed will be live streamed to our YouTube channel*. http://youtu.be/-pfXBE2POxo

Jitsi Video Bridge has a newly implemented ability to dial out to a SIP URI. This is how we’ll be interconnecting with ZipDX. Since both JVB and ZipDX support  the Opus codec that will be a good quality connection.

Interactive, if audio-only, participation in the call will be possible by connecting to ZipDX via SIP URI (200901@conf.zipdx.com)

The audio will also be streamed live via Mixlr. http://mixlr.com/voipusers/

A big thank you goes out to Emil Ivov and the Jitsi team for setting this up!

*The mechanics of exactly how we’re feeding YouTube from JVB I will likely describe in a future post.

A Gigaset With A Blacklist & The FTC’s Robocall Challenge

Gigaset-C620AEarlier this week I saw a press release detailing a new model of Gigaset cordless DECT phone. This new model, known as the Gigaset C620A, isn’t even SIP capable so normally I wouldn’t give it the time of day. However, the release placed unusual emphasis on one particular feature…a blacklist function intended to reduce the impact of nuisance calls.

Nuisance calls have been on my mind lately, not so much because we get them…because we generally don’t suffer such a problem. They’ve been on my mind because ZipDX’s David Frankel has been railing against the outcome of the FTC/FCC sponsored Robocall Challenge intended to crowd source a solution to the problem of such calls.

David entered that contest but was not one of the winners. He made some inquires about the judging criteria and scores, but met with resistance. In fact, David’s experience following up on the scoring was pretty bad. So much so that he’s been pursuing the FTC and FCC for more details. His efforts in this pursuit made it into The Wall Street Journal on June 25th.

While the contest was over some time ago, there was a Senate hearing on the subject just last week.

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Insight Into Free Conference Call Services

Stranger-in-a-Strange-Land-bookcover In the novel “Stranger in a Strange Land” the legendary science fiction writer Robert Heinlein once wrote, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” This came immediately to mind when I stumbled upon Fee Fighters where I found a post that was a nice explanation of how free conference calling services work.

The author quite rightly points out that Google Voice and Vonage will not place calls to the rural rate centers with the exorbitantly high termination costs that make the free conference service possible.

My preferred ITSP, OnSIP by Junction Networks, charges a uniform per-minute rate for calls to most rates centers in North America and Western Europe. However, when it comes to those rate centers in rural areas that host free conference services their plan changes. If we call such services they charge us “the true market rate” which can be up to 20x the normal rate. They made this abundantly clear back in 2009 when the policy was enacted.

We find no fault with OnSIP and their policy in this regard. In fact, we decided that we saw value in adding an optional private conference bridge to our OnSIP account, even though it costs us $20/month.

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ZipDX Addresses The FCC On The AT&T-T-Mobile Merger

ZIP-DX &  IP7000 It’s nice to see people “thinking outside the box” as exemplified by David Frankel’s recent presentation to the FCC. Please recall that David is the CEO of ZipDX, a leading voice in the battle for HDVoice and a sponsor of the VoIP Users Conference.

Doug Mohney’s HD Voice News has a good overview of David’s petition. David’s idea was that the merger hearings present an opportunity to point out how the ILECs have utterly failed to advance the issue of call quality. What Doug doesn’t mention is the mechanism of David’s presentation on May 27th.

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