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kjones
post Feb 15 2010, 11:22 PM
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Hey there, chummers. I'm new to the forums, and fairly new to Shadowrun. I'm currently running a campaign, and it's going pretty well, but there's a few things about the rules I don't understand - particularly about commlinks.

A commlink can be run in one of three modes - active, passive, or hidden. As I understand it, if a commlink is in passive mode, it will not accept incoming connections unless you specifically allow them. Why, then, would any 'runner ever run their commlink in active mode? If I'm reading the rules correctly, you can still do everything in passive mode that you can do in active mode, but you're protected from unwanted AR.

The problem is that sometimes I want to give my players information via AR, but they've taken to always leaving their comms in passive mode (if in public) or hidden mode (when on runs). It's my understanding that most people in, say, Seattle leave their comms in active mode most of the time, if not all of the time.

So, can someone help explain to me the difference between active and passive mode, and why a shadowrunner would want to use the former?
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Neowulf
post Feb 15 2010, 11:50 PM
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In passive mode you don't broadcast your ID to the cops passing by, which will be seen as irregular behavior in many places and is illegal in the higher class areas.

If you runners are walking around with one commlink loaded with their only fake sin (or even their real one for the sinners), they're just asking to be caught and linked to every crime they committed.
What they should be doing, if they have to walk around with their main link, is run it hidden with a skinlink to their gear, with a second cheap link loaded with their public fake sin running active. Leave the public link at home when running, and everything should be peachy.
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kjones
post Feb 16 2010, 01:59 AM
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When running a commlink, your PAN is identified by an Access ID, right? (Which can be modified in software, temporarily, or in hardware, permanently, with the appropriate skills.) How is that Access ID connected to a SIN? Is your SIN encoded somehow in your Access ID? Does anyone who can see your Access ID know your SIN? Or are they separate?
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DireRadiant
post Feb 16 2010, 03:21 AM
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Different, but usually easily associated
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KarmaInferno
post Feb 16 2010, 03:38 AM
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QUOTE (Neowulf @ Feb 15 2010, 06:50 PM) *
What they should be doing, if they have to walk around with their main link, is run it hidden with a skinlink to their gear, with a second cheap link loaded with their public fake sin running active. Leave the public link at home when running, and everything should be peachy.


Also have a secondary set of comms shut off but available. If anyone suspects the comms are compromised, they call out a pre-arranged keyword and everyone in the group shuts off their primary comms, destroys them, and switches to the secondaries.

It's just being careful.

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Neraph
post Feb 16 2010, 05:42 AM
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QUOTE (kjones @ Feb 15 2010, 07:59 PM) *
When running a commlink, your PAN is identified by an Access ID, right? (Which can be modified in software, temporarily, or in hardware, permanently, with the appropriate skills.) How is that Access ID connected to a SIN? Is your SIN encoded somehow in your Access ID? Does anyone who can see your Access ID know your SIN? Or are they separate?

Think of SINs as a logon to a website, and your access ID as a particular PC. That's pretty close to it. You can run your SIN (log on to your screen name) at any commlink (computer), and all it takes is a short test (Spoof, IIRC) to change your access ID.

But, just like in real life, people can track the real person based on what IP adress they are dialing from, regardless to what account they are on.
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hobgoblin
post Feb 16 2010, 06:04 AM
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QUOTE (Neraph @ Feb 16 2010, 06:42 AM) *
But, just like in real life, people can track the real person based on what IP adress they are dialing from, regardless to what account they are on.

true, for landline isp delivered services.

with a public wifi service, it can be trickier. What you can do there is shut down at one point, fire up again some clicks down the road, change the mac address of the wifi card, and request a new ip address from the system.

this would be the sr equivalent of turning of the comlink, traveling some distance, and then spoof a new access id.
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Kumo
post Feb 16 2010, 11:04 AM
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Legal ID is connected to SIN, but it can be spoofed or provided by "black" provider, who doesn't care about your SIN.

From SR4:
QUOTE
Commlinks typically carry all of your personal data, replacing
the registered credsticks of old. Your ID, SIN, licenses,
passport, medical history, insurance data, educational diplomas,
credit balance, and far more can be securely stored on
your commlink and instantly beamed over for transaction purposes—
with proper authorization, of course.
Many people openly broadcast certain portions of their
personal data via their PAN for others to access. This is often
done for convenience and consumer purposes—for example,
your favorite stores can access your purchasing history and
wishlists as soon as you walk in, and offer specials tailored specifically
to you. Some data is broadcast for social networking
and gaming services, notifying you if someone single with your
same hobbies and interests is in the same bar, or allowing you to
engage random opponents in virtual battles in public spaces.
Of course, most users carefully control how much information
they make publicly available, but the law often requires
certain core pieces of data to be accessible in certain areas (SIN
and ID must be broadcast on UCAS federal property, for ex-
ample), or for certain data to be accessible by security officers
who attempt to access it with authorized security codes.

So it's your decision, what data will your commlink broadcast - just sometimes part of it is enforced by local law. If not, you don't need to broadcast your ID or anything.

Active mode - yes, it's mostly useless for runner's link. But sometimes it's required (at airports, for example), and it's default for any new commlink. Besides, it's much easier to grab a piece of data from some wage slave's link, when he's running active.
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kjones
post Feb 16 2010, 03:19 PM
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Let me see if I understand this correctly.

Your Access ID is sort of like your MAC address - it's a built-in part of your commlink. It can be changed temporarily through software, or permanently through hardware. Your SIN is like your SSN - it's something assigned to an individual.

Let's say I want to do something like in the story at the beginning of the Matrix chapter in SR4A, where Slamm-O! controls a drone by figuring out the access ID of the rigger commanding it, and then spoofs his access ID to send it falsified commands. How, exactly, did he do that? Specifically, how did he find out the rigger's access ID without ever hacking the drone's firewall?
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DireRadiant
post Feb 16 2010, 04:00 PM
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QUOTE (kjones @ Feb 16 2010, 09:19 AM) *
Let's say I want to do something like in the story at the beginning of the Matrix chapter in SR4A, where Slamm-O! controls a drone by figuring out the access ID of the rigger commanding it, and then spoofs his access ID to send it falsified commands. How, exactly, did he do that? Specifically, how did he find out the rigger's access ID without ever hacking the drone's firewall?


Exploit + Hack the drone, which point you're already in and can do things so impersonating the Rigger is pointless.

Scan for the Rigger commlink, then Analyze for figuring out the accessID, then Spoof the Drone. Less intrusive and less risky, but takes longer.
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Tymeaus Jalynsfe...
post Feb 16 2010, 07:19 PM
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QUOTE (DireRadiant @ Feb 16 2010, 09:00 AM) *
Exploit + Hack the drone, which point you're already in and can do things so impersonating the Rigger is pointless.

Scan for the Rigger commlink, then Analyze for figuring out the accessID, then Spoof the Drone. Less intrusive and less risky, but takes longer.


And in the case of the Story between Slamm-O and Netcat, he intercepted her communications (as he is incapable of hacking her Biological Node, she is after all a Technomancer) and grabbed her Access ID and then spoofed it himself...

Keep the Faith
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kjones
post Feb 16 2010, 09:38 PM
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QUOTE (Tymeaus Jalynsfein @ Feb 16 2010, 02:19 PM) *
And in the case of the Story between Slamm-O and Netcat, he intercepted her communications (as he is incapable of hacking her Biological Node, she is after all a Technomancer) and grabbed her Access ID and then spoofed it himself...

Keep the Faith


Actually, he had been given her Access ID before by FastJack, for unspecified reasons. If he were to have instead intercepted her communications to find her access ID, how would he have done that? (If I understand correctly, it's Hacking + Sniffer, with a possible Computer + Browse check to identify the correct data stream. Unless she's in VR, in which case it's Matrix perception?)

To bring this back to modes, in what mode would a drone normally be running? If it's hidden, then you'd need to make an EW + Scan (4) check, but can a drone whose PAN is in hidden mode send/receive signals?

I'm sorry for all the slightly noobish questions, but I've read the Matrix chapter several times and I still feel like I have no intuition for what things can and can't be done, and how to do the things that can be done. This hasn't been an issue up until now, since one of my players is bringing in a new character who is a hacker.
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Neowulf
post Feb 16 2010, 10:35 PM
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QUOTE
but can a drone whose PAN is in hidden mode send/receive signals?

Hidden isn't off, it's just not announcing itself to other devices or answering any connection requests from unauthorized devices.

Mesh wireless networking means you never know whether the packet you just sniffed came from 10m or 10,000m away unless geographically local network neighbors send out some sort of presence signal to let you know. Hidden nodes just don't send out those signals.
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Tymeaus Jalynsfe...
post Feb 16 2010, 11:51 PM
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QUOTE (kjones @ Feb 16 2010, 02:38 PM) *
Actually, he had been given her Access ID before by FastJack, for unspecified reasons. If he were to have instead intercepted her communications to find her access ID, how would he have done that? (If I understand correctly, it's Hacking + Sniffer, with a possible Computer + Browse check to identify the correct data stream. Unless she's in VR, in which case it's Matrix perception?)

To bring this back to modes, in what mode would a drone normally be running? If it's hidden, then you'd need to make an EW + Scan (4) check, but can a drone whose PAN is in hidden mode send/receive signals?

I'm sorry for all the slightly noobish questions, but I've read the Matrix chapter several times and I still feel like I have no intuition for what things can and can't be done, and how to do the things that can be done. This hasn't been an issue up until now, since one of my players is bringing in a new character who is a hacker.


Ahhh, was not aware that Fastjack had provided the Acess ID... However, tehy were in AR mode from all appearances and yes, it would have been hacking + Sniffer, after which he would have had to decrypt it (assuming that she runs encrypted transmissions), at which point he could then have obtained the ID...

As for Drone Modes... I would assume that the vast majority of them are running in Hidden Mode and are encrypted... so you would have to find them with Scan (with a probable threshold around 15 or so for the vast number of signals that are likely present, to isolate the specific drone), and then decrypt the signals, and then you would be able to hack it...

Good Luck...

Keep the Faith
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hobgoblin
post Feb 17 2010, 06:02 AM
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i think matrix perception works even in AR...

that is, if it has a icon, you can use matrix perception on said icon to get the data, no matter the interface mode.
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_Pax_
post Feb 17 2010, 07:35 AM
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QUOTE (kjones @ Feb 15 2010, 06:22 PM) *
A commlink can be run in one of three modes - active, passive, or hidden. As I understand it, if a commlink is in passive mode, it will not accept incoming connections unless you specifically allow them. Why, then, would any 'runner ever run their commlink in active mode? If I'm reading the rules correctly, you can still do everything in passive mode that you can do in active mode, but you're protected from unwanted AR.

Certain places - airports, train stations (yes, even "just the metro"), courts, and so on - absolutely require your 'link to be in active mode. If a camera sees a person at X,Y,Z position, but the computer network doesn't see a commlink's RF signature at that same spot? RED FLAG, and a nice security man, complete with a shiny badge, will stop by for a few questions.

QUOTE
The problem is that sometimes I want to give my players information via AR, but they've taken to always leaving their comms in passive mode (if in public) or hidden mode (when on runs). It's my understanding that most people in, say, Seattle leave their comms in active mode most of the time, if not all of the time.

Most people everywhere in the world leave their 'link in active mode, all the time.
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Ryu
post Feb 17 2010, 08:11 AM
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Introductory Fiction Mechanics, provided by Tiger Eyes and Aaron
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Udoshi
post Feb 18 2010, 02:15 AM
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I would assume most Secure things like Tactical Networks, Drones, and other Important Things tend to run Hidden Mode. They don't broadcast their ID's, transmit unnnecessarily - but they do talk to other things on their subscription list. Like the rigger controlling a drone.

When you think about it, intercepting signals from a device in hidden mode should be a lot easier to track, just because there are so few of them. So it should be easier to track(trace?) down what it's actually connected and talking too.


Edit: Also, the hidden/active/passive mode rules make a -lot- more sense when you realize most runners have two commlinks. One for day-to-day life, pretending to be someone, buying stuff at the stuffer shack, and recieving all that annoying-but-useful ARO stuff. The other one, that's probably in their head, in hidden or wireless off, to hide their hackware and blackmail material and other shadow-related stuff you'd rather not have on your Public, Active mode, hackable commlink.
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kjones
post Feb 18 2010, 02:47 AM
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QUOTE (Ryu @ Feb 17 2010, 03:11 AM) *


Holy cow, that's really cool! Thank you very much for that link.

(What happened on Slamm-O!'s date with Netcat? Inquiring minds want to know!)
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LurkerOutThere
post Feb 18 2010, 02:52 AM
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Well net-cat's now pregnant and there's been hints that Slamm-O is responsible so it either went smashingly well or at least well enough that further engagements followed up.
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Chutzpah
post Feb 24 2010, 05:01 AM
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If my 'link is in active mode, all the devices in my PAN are seen by anything that access it? So it doesn't matter whether my peripherals are in active or hidden mode? Does it also mean that every 'link in active mode shows every piece of gear in their PANs, like cyberware and weapons, so everyone can be scared and run away?
If that's the case, using a secondary commlink in active mode as a social disguise wouldn't point to the primary (the main hub of the PAN with hacking tools etc) and thus to the other peripherals?
I'm confused...
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CanadianWolverin...
post Feb 24 2010, 06:35 AM
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Oh man, next to missing a higher Perception skill in building my first SR(4A) character as a newb, this stuff on having more than one commlink to run a minimal/non existent digital finger print is the kind of thing I wish I knew before.

So if I understand it right, I could have a cheap commlink in active running my fake SIN so I appear as just another bottom rung putz that the cops/sec can safely ignore as they have seen my kind a million times before, then another disposable commlink running hidden to talk with other team members, then one last hidden commlink that makes sure all the tech on my person is working just fine?

I am still having trouble understanding the minimal software I should have too. I don't have to buy copies of my legal/common software for all my commlinks do I? Here is what I am using under my previous ignorance of how to be a better runner, only a personal hidden comm:

Hermes Ikon: Iris Orb, Skinlink; Mapsofts 6 Datasofts 6

Do I have to buy skinlink for all the accesories as well? Do I mention all the stuff I was guessing runs through the commlink too or does smartgun system bypass a commlink? Or the subvocal microphone system? Or other things like the jammer or tag eraser?

And then there is software... missing so much software that now seems like it would be important for not getting hacked and just hoping that by running stuff through a skinlink would take care of that for the most part, last thing I want to happen is sudden have my contacts/goggles filled with AR spam and the pistol eject its clip in the middle of a fight that I was trying to avoid in the first place unless that is the job.
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Chutzpah
post Feb 24 2010, 02:21 PM
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QUOTE (CanadianWolverine @ Feb 24 2010, 03:35 AM) *
So if I understand it right, I could have a cheap commlink in active running my fake SIN so I appear as just another bottom rung putz that the cops/sec can safely ignore as they have seen my kind a million times before, then another disposable commlink running hidden to talk with other team members, then one last hidden commlink that makes sure all the tech on my person is working just fine?


Why not using only two 'links? Understand that you have to switch between then when trying to chat, or check your gear, or when security approaches. You only need to have a decoy 'link in active mode, subscribed to legal gear (earbuds, cybereyes etc) thus broadcasting an apparently legal PAN and public profile (that you use in the places that demands active mode), and a main 'link in hidden mode, subscribed to all the peripherals except to the decoy 'link (so it won't be obvious), with hacking programs (that you use for hacking, and other illegal stuff). Changing between them is matter of choosing which one will be displayed in the matrix interface devices.

IDEM
QUOTE
I am still having trouble understanding the minimal software I should have too. I don't have to buy copies of my legal/common software for all my commlinks do I? Here is what I am using under my previous ignorance of how to be a better runner, only a personal hidden comm


I think you have to buy a copy for every commlink... But using one commlink is not ignorance. To me, it only seems you're not a hacker. Anyway, important files can aways be stored at non wired devices (like pen drives), highly secured storage nodes (with a certain fee, of course), encrypted etc.
Well, if a good hacker is determined to get something from you, i believe he can find your hidden commlink (decoy 'links seems to be a common 'runner praxis) and get whatever is inside, unless you just turn it off or have a hacker (or decker, as i prefer) assistance.
I believe a good Analyse program always running is important, and also Stealth (to make Matrix Per. tests harder). You need a good Firewall too. Probably an agent running with combat programs can protect you from mid-level hackers, or make things harder for a good one.

I'm a newbie, so correct me if I'm wrong! =D
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DireRadiant
post Feb 24 2010, 02:33 PM
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You could also simply keep cycling through a set of spoofed accessIDs on a single commlink.
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DireRadiant
post Feb 24 2010, 02:44 PM
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QUOTE (Chutzpah @ Feb 23 2010, 11:01 PM) *
If my 'link is in active mode, all the devices in my PAN are seen by anything that access it?


Your commlink has an accessID, so do your devices. The devices in your PAN can be hidden while the commlink is in Active Mode. The commlink in Active mode is sitting there screaming "Here I am, I'm here, my name is 78906&*Z%78957895675!" to everyone. Scanning devices do not need to connect or subscribe or go look to see that. Since the scanning device does not subscribe or connect to your Active Mode commlink, it will not see the Hidden Mode devices in your PAN.

Active Mode means you are sending out wireless signals telling everyone who and where you are.
Passive Mode means you will say who and where you are when asked.
Hidden Mode you will only respond to subscribed devices.

The distinction is that while your Active Mode device may very well be easy to detect and be seen, to find out what it;'s connected to, someone has to not just see that it is there, but they also have to log on to it and get it's subscription list, which is a separate step.

Note that a Scan might find your Hidden Mode Devices, but it is quite challenging to do so.
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