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Disabling the Modem

Samsung-RIL devices

Airplane Mode

On Replicant, samsung-RIL currently asks the modem to actually turn off its transmitters by going into a low power mode.

This means that the modem firmware is most probably not off and that its firmware is still running. The modem might even still be able to receive information, as it would enable it to connect back to the network way faster than if it was really off.

The Modem isolation research page has more technical details on the issue, and pointers on how to potentially implement a modem power off.

Powering off the modem

Since the modem's firmware is loaded by the CPU on boot, the modem will be nonfunctional if the CPU chooses not to load the modem firmware. This can be used to achieve a more trustworthy off-like state. It should be noted that while this does reduce attack surface, there may still be ways for the modem to be activated (e.g. if the non-free bootloader running on the CPU sends a firmware to the modem).

To disable the modem on Samsung-RIL devices, follow these steps:

Installation

From your PC, clone the user-scripts repository:

git clone https://git.replicant.us/replicant/user-scripts.git -b replicant-6.0

For the next steps, ADB needs to be set up and running as root. Connect the device to your PC. The scripts are in the networking/modem folder. Run the setup script the folder to push the scripts to the device:

./setup.sh

Then disconnect the device. Make sure root access for apps is enabled.

Usage

Open a terminal emulator. If the terminal is not running as root, you can gain root by running:

su

Navigate to the data/misc/modem directory and run one of the scripts:

bash disable_modem.sh

or
bash enable_modem.sh

Disabling the modem will reboot your device (the modem will be disabled when reboot completes). Enabling the modem does not require a reboot (it takes effect after a few seconds).

Other devices

We don't yet have a way to disable the modem on other devices.

Updated by Denis 'GNUtoo' Carikli about 2 months ago · 5 revisions