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Mystery Signal Transmissions Originating from Arabian Sea Baffle Ham Radio Buffs

Around 70 of the 200 amateur radio operators in Mumbai have heard these unknown signals at various times of the day, and mostly at night

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Mumbai, November 21, 2016: Amateur radio operators, also known as ham radio buffs, in Mumbai were baffled by unidentified mystery signal transmissions reportedly originating from the Arabian Sea on the country’s west coast, an operator said here on Monday.

Though the signals have been picked up by their VHF wireless radios since the past five months or so, they became suspicious after they tracked them down to the deep sea off Maharashtra-Gujarat coasts, said Ham Radio Operators Mumbai spokesperson Ankur Puranik.

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“We have written to the Wireless Advisor, Ministry of Telecommunications and IT, with copies to the PMO, other ministries, and top defence and police officials to take note and investigate these unknown signals,” Puranik told IANS.

They sent the memorandum to the Centre after analysing the signals with their direction-finding equipment and antennae and were alarmed to learn they originated around 100 nautical miles in the high seas off the Maharashtra-Gujarat coast.

“They are encroaching on our allotted bandwidth 144-146MHz for our two-way radio, they don’t use the compulsory ‘call sign’ by which each ham radio operator in the world can be identified and tracked, and they speak in a language we can’t understand,” Puranik explained.

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The amateur radio operators did not rule out the wireless signals originating from some anti-social elements or sea pirates or other groups with possible nefarious motives.

Around 70 of the 200 amateur radio operators in Mumbai have heard these unknown signals at various times of the day, and mostly at night and they still continue.

Puranik claimed that the unidentified operators could be using high-power wireless sets in the range of 25Watts-50Watts and their signals may be propagated many hundreds of nautical miles to other Indian coastal areas or some neighbouring countries.

“We believe that they are using open-band wireless sets which can tune in to or transit in any frequency in the VHF band between 136-174MHz. Some of these frequencies may be falling in the bands used by the Indian government and security agencies,” he said.

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In the memo, they have urged the Centre to check out dealers of Marine Radio Equipment in India and the radio licences of all fishing vessels to ascertain if the mystery operators have acquired their equipment from illegal sources.

Besides, they have also drawn the Centre’s attention to the unauthorized sale of two-way radio sets on various online sites, shopping sites and other internet marketing outlets which are flouting Indian laws. (IANS)

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Aadhaar Helpline Mystery: French Security Expert Tweets of doing a Full Disclosure Tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App

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Google, Facebook face greater scrutiny in Australia. Wikimedia Commons

Google’s admission that it had in 2014 inadvertently coded the 112 distress number and the UIDAI helpline number into its setup wizard for Android devices triggered another controversy on Saturday as India’s telecom regulator had only recommended the use of 112 as an emergency number in April 2015.

After a large section of smartphone users in India saw a toll-free helpline number of UIDAI saved in their phone-books by default, Google issued a statement, saying its “internal review revealed that in 2014, the then UIDAI helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number were inadvertently coded into the SetUp wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and has remained there since”.

Aadhaar Helpline Number Mystery: French security expert tweets of doing a full disclosure tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App, Image: Wikimedia Commons.

However, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended only in April 2015 that the number 112 be adopted as the single emergency number for the country.

According to Google, “since the numbers get listed on a user’s contact list, these get  transferred accordingly to the contacts on any new device”.

Google was yet to comment on the new development.

Meanwhile, French security expert that goes by the name of Elliot Alderson and has been at the core of the entire Aadhaar controversy, tweeted on Saturday: “I just found something interesting. I will probably do full disclosure tomorrow”.

“I’m digging into the code of the @Google SetupWizard app and I found that”.

“As far as I can see this object is not used in the current code, so there is no implications. This is just a poor coding practice in term of security,” he further tweeted.

On Friday, both the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as well as the telecom operators washed their hand of the issue.

While the telecom industry denied any role in the strange incident, the UIDAI said that he strange incident, the UIDAI said that some vested interests were trying to create “unwarranted confusion” in the public and clarified that it had not asked any manufacturer or telecom service provider to provide any such facility.

Twitter was abuzz with the new development after a huge uproar due to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R.S. Sharma’s open Aadhaar challenge to critics and hackers.

Ethical hackers exposed at least 14 personal details of the TRAI Chairman, including mobile numbers, home address, date of birth, PAN number and voter ID among others. (IANS)

Also Read: Why India Is Still Nowhere Near Securing Its Citizens’ Data?