local routing problem...

Steven M. Bellovin smb at cs.columbia.edu
Wed Nov 7 02:49:08 UTC 2007

Somewhat OT, but this audience will appreciate it more than most.  This
item appeared in RISKS Digest.

Date: Mon, 5 Nov 2007 09:55:50 +0100
From: Stefan Alfredsson <Stefan.Alfredsson at kau.se>
Subject: Cellphone in USB charger became default route

His cellphone charger was broken, so 17 year old Christoffer connected
his phone, a Sony Ericsson k800i, via USB to his parents computer and
left it to charge over night.

A month later, he got a bill of SEK 6911  (about USD $1100).

It turns out that the phone became the "default broadband" when plugged
in via USB, and his long-running downloads were done over the phone
instead of his broadband connection. The common price per Mbyte
GPRS/UMTS data traffic is SEK 10 to 15 (about USD $1.5 to $2.3), which
would correspond to about 500 Mbyte downloaded data.

Christoffer claims "there was no warning to allow the phone to take
over the connection. I did not even know it was possible".  According
to the operator Tele2, he must pay the bill even if it was a mistake.
They concluded that the phone modem had been used, but could not tell
how it happened. The operator were not aware of previous incidents, but
claims that "there is software to link the phone to the computer and
start the phone Internet function, but it's not possible for the
computer to do this on its own".

Original article in Swedish:

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