Posts Tagged NTL / UPC

UPC Broadband WiFi Router susceptible to a simple brute force attack

Many Internet users in Ireland are well aware of the Eircom wireless router hack that showed just how easy it would be for someone to compromise the poor security design of some Wifi routers. In Eircom’s case, they were providing all their Broadband customers with routers that could be compromised and accessed by hackers, simply by using the digits of the routers default SSID. Hackers figured out that by using the digits set up by default when you turned on your Eircom wifi router, you could generate the routers password within seconds by compromising the poorly thought out security algorithm.

Now it seems, UPC broadband is the latest Irish broadband provider that could fall foul to potential hackers. It seems our ISPs, in an attempt I can only assume, to make the set up and install of their routers a simple task for their less tech savvy customers – does nothing but create holes for hackers to exploit.

Recently an Irish IT company, discovered that UPC’s broadband routers are susceptible to a brute force attack based on the algorithmn used to generate the passwords that they stick to the back of all their routers.

The hack is definitely not as easy to exploit as the one Eircom introduced, but it’s still very attainable to any serious hacker or even a hobbyist who just wants to leech their neighbours broadband connection.

Check out the article from PlanIT Computing on how UPC’s routers can be exploited and what you can do to prevent an attack on you.

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How NTL / UPC can beat the Starview Box

UPC Romania

For quite some time now, NTL/UPC have had a thorn stuck in their foot. That thorn is something commonly known as a “dodgy box” or the official name “starview box” / “The box”.

The dodgy box allows non technical home users hook on to a basic NTL / UPC analog line and receive digitial TV including fully subscription based channels – free of charge.

In fairness to NTL, they’ve tried everything they can to beat these boxes. From sending out sensational rumours (i.e. a rumour that viruses could be sent down the line to these boxes) to constantly disrupting the service by changing the encryption code. Although I’m sure it suceeded in removing the “plug n play” type users, who don’t understand why their TV doesn’t work when it’s unplugged, it certainly hasn’t deterred those who know what they are doing.

So how can they really beat these rogue thieves from stealing their service? Well I think it’s quite simple and they seem to be making a step towards this.

Personally, if I think a service is good enough, I don’t mind paying extra for value. Recently NTL/UPC sent me a letter stating that they were upgrading all digital customers in my area to facilitate the new services they have coming online. In cable forums across the UK and Ireland, the rumour is that they are doing this so that they can start using a new encyption that will make the majority of these dodgy boxes as useful as a doorstop.

In the letter they mentioned that they were offering a new “DVR service”. This is NTL/UPC’s attempt at competing against the might Sky’s – SKy Plus, that allows you to pause and record live TV. Unlike Sky, they were offering this new service at only €5 per month, with no charge for the upgraded device. I thought, why not? €5, it’s well worth it.

So it got me thinking of what else they could offer:

  1. Improved DVR service
    Although the new service is much welcomed, it’s not a patch on Sky Plus. The interface is slow and doesn’t allow certain things like Sky Plus does.
  2. More Channels
    I think they could easily offer more channels to their package. Just by adding free-to-air channels, surely there’s little if any cost for them to do this. They recently removed my beloved Scuzz music channel without any notice – this was a free to air channel, that I’m sure they weren’t paying for.
  3. A True Digital Service
    It’s taken a while for NTL to offer even the basic pause live TV function, but some interactive functions would be really nice, like shopping online etc. Or even just the ability to “click the red button” 😉
  4. Interactive Gaming
    Not something I’d personally use that often, but a drawer none the less.
  5. Cheaper Price
    Obviously I’m going to say this, but the price comparison between NTL/UPC and Sky is just non existent. Sky just offer a greater package, even though they are slightly more expensive. This could be a huge turning point for People to use NTL / UPC over Sky.

The DVR is a step in the right direction, but I know they could offer a lot more.

In fact, a quick review on the DVR system isn’t very impressive. It’s apparently a Thomson 6000 series device. The EPG is slow to load and quite finicky. Other pet hates are the fact that you can’t record from an external device, even though it allows you to channel it through it.

Anyway, I’m just giving out now 😉

All in all – if there was an improved, value for money service on the table, I believe people wouldn’t be bothered trying to hack the network with these dodgy boxes.

Updating a starview box, if you don’t have any friends to do it, can cost anything from €10 – €50. Why would they bother with the constant updates when you have a cheap, better alternative?

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