"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." - Benjamin Franklin
myRL.net
Home Services Downloads About
Posted on 2015-09-16 by IceBear

In this and two following articles I'd like to take a look at three different areas of personal data storage, how I see a majority of people handling these three issues and what my personal theoretical approaches regarding them is. This is going to be purely about data storage and security, not transport security, which is another topic on its own.

The questions mainly are:

  • Where am I supposed to store my private data?
  • Is my data secure?
  • Who can access my data?
  • Is security based on trust or actual scientific security (encryption)?

First of all, the three distinctions of data storage I'd like to make, and also how I'm splitting the articles, are the following:

  • Email storage
  • Preference storage (application preferences, browser syncing, phone syncing etc.)
  • Personal data storage (photos, videos, documents, contacts, calendar, etc.)

Let's start with email storage. Where are your emails stored? The vast majority of Internet users have an email account with one of the big free email providers or they might have an account that is provided by their Internet Service Provider (ISP). Maybe you even use some shared web hosting somewhere which comes with shared email servers. Whichever of these is the case: your emails are effectively stored with a third party, an ISP that is not you.

Let me ask you this: where is your mail stored? And by mail I actually refer to physical mail: letters. Where are they received? Surely you have a mailbox at your home, or you might have a post-office (PO) box. Most likely you'll be receiving your mail at your mailbox in front of your house and then store it safely inside your home. Would you want your letters to be sent to a third-party that is sending you a copy but also storing all your letters within their own house? Probably not.

I believe we have a major misunderstanding how we are treating Email currently. We are giving away our email data to big companies that make a living with it (among with other services). Always keep in mind that you're most likely not the customer when using a free service, you might be the actual product. If events in the last years regarding the NSA and Edward Snowden have shown us anything, it's that our data stored at big ISPs is most likely easily accessible by governments.

Instead of using such a centralized infrastructure, we should be decentralizing Email in the same way our usual mail system works. When you go back looking at the development of email, it actually was meant to be exactly like that.

My suggestion for email therefore is this:

  • Get your own domain name to use for your email address. Be aware that public email providers like gmail.com, hotmail.com, etc. are the ones in charge of their domain names and can cancel them or your email address at any time. You should be the one in charge of your own domain name.
  • Run your own email server at home. While this might sound difficult, a lot of services and communities try to make this as easy as possible. Some examples would be iRedMail, Mail-in-a-BoxSynology Email Server and YunoHost. In case you've heard about or own a Raspberry Pi, there are two major projects making self-hosted services, including Email, on a Raspberry Pi as easy as possible: arkOS and FreedomBox.
  • Use a third-party email server only as a backup mail server. In case your Internet connection at home drops and your mail server is unreachable, configure a third-party email server as a backup, so your emails will be delivered regardless. In a best case scenario, you can set up a friend's home email server as your backup server and vice versa.
  • Use end-to-end encryption such as GPG to protect your emails even if someone else is able to access them.

This just a very brief overview of why I suggest hosting your own email server. There are lots of other things to consider and running an email server is by no means an easy task, I understand that.

As a concluding suggestion, I'd like to introduce the website PRISM Break which lists free and open alternatives for all kinds of proprietary and closed solutions. Specifically for mail servers: PRISM Break Mail Servers

In my next article I'll be taking a look at preference storage, where to save application preferences, what to do with browser syncing and phone syncing.

Article NSA parody logo cc by EFF. Article title in reference to "All your base are belong to us".

Posted on 2015-06-02 by IceBear

With the A588T, Lenovo released a neat Android 4.4 based flip phone on the Chinese market. It comes with a touchscreen and also allows the user to completely flip the screen by 180° to make it usable as a conventional smartphone. It doesn't seem to very popular as documentation on it is very scarce and I can't even seem to be able to find an official Lenovo product page.

Since the model I got my hands on is only intended for the Chinese market, it comes with several restrictions:

  • TD-SCDMA 3G modem which only allows 3G usage in China Mobile networks and not internationally
  • Google Play and other Google services are not installed and can't be installed in a simple way
  • Recent versions of Lenovo apps are only available in Chinese
  • Hardware keyboard input seems to be limited to Chinese

Yes, 3G won't work outside China Mobile networks which is, for the most part, limited to mainland China. While most of the phone initially seems to be available in English, after updating Lenovo store and other apps, they are only available in Chinese, dropping English language support. Quite the bummer.

The biggest drawback is support for the hardware keyboard, however. It always seems to suggest Chinese and not English input. I somehow got it to suggest English at one point but it's far from proper T9 support like we had back in the days. I have yet to find a proper solution for this. Either way, this is not part of this guide.

I wanted to have Google Play available and also get root access, since I like to be in full control of my devices. Most of this article is based on the video "How to Root every MTK China Phone" by ITXtutor. Do note that the general idea of this article does indeed work with other MTK devices, only some aspects (like the firmware) are Lenovo A588T specific.

This guide is relying on tools for Windows and is therefore meant for Windows only.

As prerequisites you may want to download the following tools:

As I'm assuming everyone knows how to extract and install these files, I won't mention that as an extra step. You may require to install additional ADB and device specific USB drivers. I'm not covering this for every device, for the Lenovo A588T drivers are included within the "FlashTool" folder of the firmware linked above.

If you'd like a fresh start or upgrade your firmware, flash Lenovo A588T firmware version S044 on your phone using MediaTek Smart Phone Flash Tool. Be aware that this will delete all your data stored on the phone and is a completely optional step:

  1. Turn your phone off and remove the battery
  2. Open MediaTek Smart Phone Flash Tool:
    • Go to "Download" tab
    • Select Scatter-loading file from downloaded firmware: "MT6582_Android_scatter.txt"
    • Select Download Only from the dropdown menu
    • Press "Download"
    • Connect the phone (while it is without battery and turned off) to your computer via USB which should connect your phone in preloader mode
      • The screen will stay blank and if you check Windows Device Manager, a "preloader" device may pop up and disconnect every now and then. This is completely normal.
    • Wait for the download to finish
      • If you get an error message, try again in case the device was currently in a non-ready mode (as it keeps connecting and disconnecting all the time) and if it still doesn't work, make sure you have the proper USB drivers for your phone installed
    • A green icon should appear to inform you of successfully flashing the firmware
  3. Disconnect the phone, put the battery back in and boot it up
  4. You are now using a clean and fresh stock version of Lenovo's A588T firmware version S044
  5. You may or may not want to update to the most recent version of Lenovo's A588T firmware by running the System Update tool on your phone

Follow these steps to create a full backup of your current ROM:

  1. Turn your phone on and make sure USB debugging is enabled
    • On the Lenovo A588T you first need to enable developer options by going to System -> About phone -> Version information -> click seven times on Build number
    • Once you have enabled developer options you need to enable USB debugging by going to System -> Developer options -> check USB debugging
  2. Connect the phone to your computer via USB
  3. Launch MTK Droid Tools and accept the USB debugging request from your computer on your phone which should pop up there
  4. In the default tab "Phone information" click on the button "Blocks map"
    • Note down the scatter address for "cache". For example: 003E100000
    • Create a scatter file by pressing the button "Create scatter file". Save it to any desirable location.
  5. Disconnect your phone from the computer
  6. Turn your phone off and remove the battery
  7. Open MediaTek Smart Phone Flash Tool:
    • Go to the "Readback" tab and press "Add"
    • Double click on the new entry and select any desirable location and file name where you would like to save your current ROM backup
    • In the popping up dialog, set the readback type to "Hex" and the length to your previously noted scatter address for "cache" by prefixing "0x" and removing any prefixed 0-padding of the address. In our example: 0x3E100000
    • Leave the start address to the default 0x0
    • Press "Read Back" to save your backup
    • Connect the phone to your computer via USB which should connect your phone in preloader mode (as mentioned above)
    • Wait for the backup to finish, this might take a while
      • If you get an error message, try again in case the device was currently in a non-ready mode (as it keeps connecting and disconnecting all the time) and if it still doesn't work, make sure you have the proper USB drivers for your phone installed
    • A green icon should appear to inform you of successfully reading back the ROM

Now that you have successfully created a backup, it's time to install CWM recovery:

  1. Turn your phone on normally
  2. Connect the phone to your computer via USB
  3. Launch MTK Droid Tools
    • Go to the "root, backup, recovery" tab
    • Press "To process file ROM_ from Flash Tool" and select the previous created ROM backup
    • A popup will ask you whether "To make CWM recovery automatically?" - Select "Yes"
    • This will create a recovery file for your ROM including CWM recovery
  4. The recovery file including CWM recovery will be located in a folder called something like "LenovoA588t_*_ForFlashtoolFromReadback_*" within the "backup" folder of your MTK Droid Tools directory
  5. The file is called something like "LenovoA588t_*__recovery_*"
  6. Disconnect your phone, turn it off, remove the battery
  7. Open MediaTek Smart Phone Flash Tool:
    • Go to the default "Download" tab
    • Click on "Scatter-loading" and select the scatter file we created while backing up our current ROM
    • Set mode to "Download only" and tick the "RECOVERY" item in the list
    • Double click on the location for the "RECOVERY" item and select the recovery file including CWM recovery mentioned before
    • Press "Download" to flash CWM recovery
    • Connect your phone via USB into preloader mode (as we did before)
    • Wait for the download to finish
      • If you get an error message, try again in case the device was currently in a non-ready mode (as it keeps connecting and disconnecting all the time) and if it still doesn't work, make sure you have the proper USB drivers for your phone installed
    • A green icon should appear to inform you of successfully flashing CWM recovery

After CWM recovery has been successfully flashed, it's time to see if it's working alright. Boot your phone into CWM recovery by holding down Volume up, Volume down and the Power button at the same time. If you end up in the CWM recovery menu, everything is working as intended. It should say something along "rua1 autoCWM" at the top of the screen.

Installing SuperSU and Google apps are a piece of cake now:

  1. Boot up your phone normally and transfer both SuperSU as well as the Google apps zip files onto your external phone SD card.
  2. Turn your phone off and reboot it into CWM recovery by holding down Volume up, Volume down and the Power button while turning it on
  3. Navigate by using the volume buttons and select a menu item by using the power button
  4. Go to "install zip from sdcard" -> "choose zip from sdcard" -> Select the SuperSU zip file and acknowledge the installation
  5. After it has been successfully installed to the same with the Google apps zip file
  6. Reboot your phone normally

Congrats! You should now have SuperSU as well as Google apps installed successfully. This will give you root access and the full app range of Google's Play store.

Cached static page
2017-11-20T00:56:01+00:00

Served by rin
© myRL.net
PHPIDS LGPL PHPIDS Team
Font Awesome SIL OFL 1.1 Dave Gandy