personal thoughts and projects in security

Open heart surgery

The Scene: You are in the djungle (or rather, on vacation in the family cabin in the woods) and your broadband dongle is physically broken due to low intelligence use of a empty microSIM-card adapter (I refuse to disclose details). You really need to get in contact with civilization.

The Problem: The broadband dongle refuses to accept the SIM, the pins will not connect to the smart card since at least one of them is broken and/or displaced.

The Tools: Safety pin, tape, utility knife and an old rusty hacksaw blade

The operating table and some left over parts…

The Solution: Violence.
I have little to loose since it just isn’t working at the moment. Perhaps I could open up the SIM connector and fix the pins?
Now, the dongle is pretty compact and built more or less solely using surface mounted SMB components and the only possible entry in to the microelectronic fortress was through some really small phillips screws.

Tools of choice

I managed to use the tip of the utility knife to get the two screws out of the way and when a third hidden screw was detected it got the same treatment. Some serious bending, cutting and a 20 minute sawing session later the result was an open SIM tray and the cold fact that two out of eight pins were completely gone – only some miniscule copper ends protruded from the underlying electronics.

The use of precision force in combination with safety pin and utility knife moved the pin ends into a position as close to ideal as possible under the circumstances.

Time to test – SIM into the microSIM adapter, uSIM adapter placed roughly in the correct position and a piece of masking tape to hold it all in place. A short moment of “should-i-relly-put-this-electronic-Frankenstein-monster-in-my-brand-new-MacBookPro” later the dongle was inserted and to my complete surprise the popup asked for the PIN for the SIM!

A fully recovered patient

Not even the curious and not-so-gentle fingers from a 2 year old could kill my creation – it was ALIVE!

The entire purpose of getting online failed since I couldn’t solve the issue anyway, but it didn´t really matter – I was super pleased with the open heart surgery!


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