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Author Topic: Strange SMSC number  (Read 1286 times)
satansbum
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« on: March 30, 2007, 07:22:28 UTC »

 I am a subscriber (pre-paid) on the Vodafone New Zealand GSM mobile network.  The SMSC (message centre) number set on my phone is +6421600600.  Until recently, all text messages received would be from SMSC number +64216006XX (the last two digits would change as Vodafone have a few different SMSC numbers).

However, over the last couple of days ALL my messages have been received from +6421601170.  This happened shortly after a friend of mine was at my place, received a call on his mobile from his other mobile (that he had left at home) and went home to find out what was going on.  The mobile at home HAD called the mobile that he had with him, but interestingly there was no time of call on either phone....

All my friend's SMS messages are coming from the same SMSC number too.

Anyone have any idea what the hell might be going on?
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parasa
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« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2007, 09:09:20 UTC »

Are you concerned about SC address getting changed ?
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Thanks & regards,

Parasa kiran
India
satansbum
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« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2007, 20:05:09 UTC »

I am rather concerned that someone might be  illegally intercepting my SMS text messages and my phone calls - why else would the SMS centre number suddenly change to a number that isn't used by Vodafone as an SMS message centre number?   Angry

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me - it's much appreciated!
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RussCrush
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« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2007, 20:55:56 UTC »

 The number that you mentioned (+642160170) is a valid SMSC number for VF New Zealand according to my information. You are correct, VF NZ has 14 published SMSCs.

 I cannot comment directly on why this happened, but I do know that it happens all the time. Uploading new SMSC numbers to SIMs are fairly common.

 As far as intercepting calls and SMS messages, Call VF and ask them. They might be able to explain the change in the SMSC.

 Hell, if you impress them enough, they might offer you a job.
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satansbum
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« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2007, 11:12:28 UTC »

Thanks for the advice Russ, it's much appreciated.  Incidentally, where did you locate the info that VFNZ has 14 different SMSCs?  Is it available on the net, and are the numbers listed?   

I just find it very strange that until a couple of days ago, the SMSC was always +64216006XX (600600, 600610, 600650, 600690, etc) but now it's ALWAYS +6421601170.

Cheers!
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RussCrush
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« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2007, 20:20:05 UTC »

 I know them because it is my job. I know the GTs of just about every GSM operator in the world.

 Sometimes, the GTs and even specific information (like nodes addresses) can be acquired on-line. It takes some looking, and sometimes data mining at the governing bodies' web site, but the information can usually be had.

 After thinking about it, it could be that VF NZ has implemented  VSMSC (Virtual), and that 1170 is it. Your SMSC was never set before, per se, and it is not now. They have just opted to use a single Node address to reach the SMSC "farm", i.e. the other 13 SMSCs.
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satansbum
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« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2007, 01:45:22 UTC »

Please advise what the acronym "GT" means.

"Data mining"Huh  That sounds suspiciously like it might be unlawful, even criminal   Grin 
Unfortunately, I'm not sufficiently au fait with computers to undertake such an exercise (otherwise I'd be into VF's site like a rat up a drainpipe!)

One other quick question: do you have any idea how long SMS text messages would remain on a network operator's system?  Are they deleted after a short period, or are they accessible by the network operator for an indefinite period?  The reason I ask is that Vodafone employees have given evidence in Court that text messages are deleted after 32 hours.  I have heard thru unofficial channels that VFNZ has a copy of every text message sent thru its network all the way back to when the network was operated by BellSouth.
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RussCrush
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« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2007, 23:15:24 UTC »

 Sorry, GT is short for Global Title. In short, a phone number, or a series of numbers within a range used for SS7/C7 signaling.

 As far as datamining goes, I was actually referring to searching around at the ITU-T, GSM, 3GPP, and VF NZ web sites for the data that you are looking for. I find a surprising amount of data is readily available, if you know where, and how to search. The sites listed are a good place to start.

 An SMS that is delivered is deleted form the SMSC upon response confirming same.

 That is the official response. In truth, I do not know whether operators maintain SMS histories, but assume that anything that is written, from the first SMS you sent to this response, is held for all eternity, somewhere. NEVER ASSUME ANYTHING ELSE. NEVER WRITE SOMETHING THAT YOU MIGHT REGRET LATER.

I already regret this post........
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satansbum
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« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2007, 02:46:10 UTC »

Welcome to the Brave New World of Nineteen Eighty-Four my friend!  I rang a customer service rep at VF a short time ago and asked her about their SMSC numbers - she said that +64601170 is NOT a recognised VF SMSC number.

I had considerable problems a couple of years ago with interference/interception of my cellphone by VF and/or the "biggest gang in town" (the cops).  Some of the things happening were really, really weird.  I rang customer service at VF one day and there was a ridiculous echo on my phone - the rep agreed that my phone was probably being tapped (and I'm NOT on the wrong side of the law).  I was eventually put through to a technician who said "it's impossible to intercept a GSM phone" - absolute RUBBISH!

I finally managed to get hold of a senior manager of VF's Fraud Dept and outlined the various problems I'd been having.  After 2 or 3 months he came back to me and said their tech experts had investigated and they "could not explain" the weird phenomena on my phone.  As I'm a smart-arse (that's "wiseass" in yankspeak), I said "Can't explain?  Or won't explain?"
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RussCrush
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« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2007, 18:12:12 UTC »

CS Reps really try to provide good service....But they do not know everything.

 Like I said, I can confirm that number from 12 time zones and 12,000 miles away.

 As far as call interception goes, I do know a little bit about that. At every POP (Point of Presence), there is equipment installed (here, anyway) to automatically intercept and record calls to or from a given number.  In the US, it takes a court order to turn it on (copies provided to the Site Manager). If it were done to you, you would never know. Line echo sounds to me like a bad Echo-Cancellor on the span between the LEC and MSC.

 Also, how are you using your phone that the cops would be interested in? Or that you would be afraid would come back on you in court?  I could put a cop to sleep in seconds with my phone calls. I understand one's desire to be free from intrusion (even from those tasked with "protecting" us), but the old saying "If you are doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about" holds true. If you are still worried, go get another phone (You said that you are on Prepaid) and use that for a while.

 Cheers!!
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satansbum
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« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2007, 04:32:00 UTC »

I most certainly do NOT use my phone for any illegal purpose, and the insinuation is offensive.

I have just got off the phone to the senior VF fraud analyst I spoke with last year - he said he has no idea what the SMSC number is.  If, as you say, +6421601170 is an official VF SMSC number, then I find it very surprising that he doesn't know what the number is.  He made the bizarre suggestion that it might be a third party text messaging company, and asked if I had given my number to a restaurant or other business (I haven't).

Methinks VF employee speaks with forked tongue...

As for your comment that, "if you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about" that is spurious logic and is the slippery slope that leads to a police state.  If everyone sits on their hands and lets the powers-that-be get away with invasions of privacy, in no time at all we will have no privacy left to invade.  Wake up people!!!!
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parasa
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« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2007, 07:05:31 UTC »

Ineresting Topic ..
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Thanks & regards,

Parasa kiran
India
parasa
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« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2007, 10:37:19 UTC »

Let us look it from another angle.

Speculations till now.
1. Someone illegally tapping the conversations.
2. VFNJ just changed their SC address
3. Messages getting routed through new SMSC.
4. Strange logic - No one understands.

Point 1.  looks personal and sensitive so no comments on that

Point 2.  Possibly yes. That is the reason your friend is also getting messages from the same SC number.

Point 3.  Possibly yes. May be VFNZ is routing messages from special SMSC. No logical reason but can be debated.

Point 4.  If no one understands how can I.

But there might be another technical speculation for mentioned behavior.

SMSC uses two SC addresses while formatting and routing MT messages.

One for presentation - the number that appears in the message details of the received message
One for routing GT routing

Usually all SMSC use the same number for presentation and for routing. Hence you were getting different SC numbers earlier. According to me the operator was using multiple SMSC's for message termination.

Now operator might be thinking a way in which he uses multiple SMSC for message termination (MT) and a single SMSC for accepting incoming messages and routing them to the SMSCs (one of many depending on some key) handling MT traffic. 
If this is true then operator would like to keep these technical details opaque to the subscribers and hence use a single presentation address.
And the best way to do this is to use the SC address of SMSC handling incoming messages as the presentation address for outgoing messages.

But if the above speculation is true then VFNZ's roaming manager will be able to answer the question, as these are the people who keep roaming tie up with international operators. Any changes in number series goes via roaming department.


Regards,
« Last Edit: April 05, 2007, 06:51:08 UTC by parasa » Logged

Thanks & regards,

Parasa kiran
India
RussCrush
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« Reply #13 on: April 06, 2007, 04:02:55 UTC »

I most certainly do NOT use my phone for any illegal purpose, and the insinuation is offensive.
You should settle down. I insinuated nothing, Hoss.
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satansbum
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« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2007, 17:59:33 UTC »

I most certainly do NOT use my phone for any illegal purpose, and the insinuation is offensive.
You should settle down. I insinuated nothing, Hoss.


My apologies RussCrush - I guess I misinterpreted your comments quoted below as implying that I might use my phone for nefarious purposes:

Quote
how are you using your phone that the cops would be interested in? Or that you would be afraid would come back on you in court?
Quote


I'm sure you can see how I made that mistake!

Anyway, following is an update on my mission to solve the mystery of the strange SMSC number.  The Vodafone fraud analyst who pleaded ignorance about the number referred my query to VFNZ's "Government Liaision and Information Disclosure Manager".  They sent me the following email:

Quote
1.Message Centre:  Your message centre for either CSD or GPRS should be +6421600600.
  This is the default in the handset under SMS Settings - and can be reset. The number quoted is not a valid Vodafone subscriber number.
 
  The SMS settings on your handset cannot be changed by Vodafone.
 
2.We cannot categorically guarantee that any of your calls are not subject to legal interception - given that we have no idea of your client base.
 
  However,  Vodafone's interception procedures are fully compliant with the Telecommunications Interception Act and are audited monthly.
Quote

(as you may have figured out, I work in the legal field).

In response to VF's email, the SMSC entered on my handset is (and has always been) +6421600600.   Roll Eyes

VF say that "the number quoted is not a valid Vodafone subscriber number."  I presume it's a typo, as I clearly stated that I was enquiring about an SMSC number.

The relevant legislation is incorrectly cited - it's actually the Telecommunications (Interception Capability) Act 2004 ("the Act").  In case you're interested, you can find the text of the Act at www.legislation.govt.nz under "Statutes".  Section 7(1) of the Act provides as follows:

Quote
A network operator must ensure that every public telecommunications network that the operator owns, controls, or operates, and every telecommunications service that the operator provides in New Zealand, has an interception capability.
Quote

Essentially, all telcos and ISPs operating in NZ are required to have interception capabilities which must be made available upon request by various government departments - but only for the purposes of detecting and investigating criminal and/or terrorist activities.  Of course everyone knows that govt. agencies don't always act within the law, and often feel they are exempt from it - does anyone remember Watergate?  These people forget they are public SERVANTS and not gestapo agents trampling with impunity over people's rights to privacy.

If a client's calls/SMS messages ARE being intercepted for some reason, Vodafone is required by the Act to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of interception on third parties.

I have thoroughly researched the law pertaining to interception of text messages in this country.  In a court case heard last year, Vodafone gave evidence that text messages are ordinarily "purged" from their network after 36 hours.  If an individual phone number is targeted by police for interception, then SMS messages to & from that phone are diverted via the "Vodafone Corporate Network" and stored by "Revenue Assurance" (whatver the hell that is - the judgment doesn't explain it) for later retrieval and analysis. 

I replied to VF's email quoted above and asked whether +6421601170 is the SMSC for the VF Corporate Network.  I got no response, so I rang the person who sent the email.  I was told that the number in question is an "invalid message centre number", and that I will be receiving a detailed explanation from VF shortly (I'm still waiting).  If it is an "invalid" SMSC number, how is it that I can still send and receive text messages?  Also, a friend of mine is currently in Europe - he is on a VF contract and has global roaming activated on his number.  I've received text messages from him, but he hasn't received any of my replies.  Is this connected in some way with the mystery SMSC number?  Does it indicate that my phone messages are in fact being intercepted?  Or am I just being paranoid? ("Just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean they're not after you." Grin )

I've also done what RussCrush suggested and tried "data mining" at the VFNZ and ITU-T websites - I've been unable to find any info whatsoever on SMSC numbers.  I would be grateful if someone could provide me with more specific web location details where I might find the list of SMSC numbers currently used by VFNZ (RussCrush has already stated that 601170 is a valid SMSC number for VFNZ, and I would love to be able to prove that VFNZ have been economical with the truth).  Obviously, I'll understand if people are reluctant to do so.   

Look forward to receiving a response as soon as possible - any assistance any reader can provide in solving this mystery will be very gratefully appreciated. 

Finally, I should briefly mention Project Echelon - this is something that everyone should be aware of.  It's NOT some crackpot conspiracy theory - a detailed report by the European Parliament about Echelon is available on the net free of charge.

Righto then, and thanks in advance for your help.

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« Reply #15 on: April 22, 2007, 23:11:04 UTC »

you began this topic asking why the messages you send have a different SMSC address...

Here's the answer... (and Russ did try to convey some of this..)

When you send an SMS to the configured SMSC Address. it is often intercepted by an STP (signal transfer point), a standard routing element in an SS7 network. This may then re-route the message to a chosen SMSC (and essentially change the destination SMSC).. The policy of choosing that SMSC can be pure round-robin load-share (cycling though a list), prepaid vs/contract awareness (i.e dedicated SMSCs for each), associative distribution (e.g messages to certain digit patterns are routed to specific SMSCs).. either way you send it to one address, it gets relayed to another... thats a very very normal thing to happen.

The end recipient then sees the actual address of the host SMSC.. and MUST see this address to ensure the ACK part of the MT delivery actually routes back to that SMSC.

There is no conspiracy.. and the reason the numbers changed may be nothing more than new equipment or topology changes within the VFNZ network.

I'm not suggesting you do this.. but if you temporarily reconfigured your phone to route its messages to that new address.. my bet is that it will work.. in essence you issue messages directly to a chosen SMSC and bypass using the STP to route. I've often done this in test roles on site to direct MO messages at specific test SMSCs.
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   Cormac Long
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