A High Schooler Hacked His Way to Free, Unlimited 4G Data

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Jacob Ajit, a Virginia high school student, is also a hacker who discovered a loophole that gave him access to T-Mobile's LTE data network with no plan—completely free.

"One Friday night, I was sitting around pretending to be fine having absolutely nothing to do," he wrote in a Medium post. "I had a TMobile prepaid SIM on a spare phone with no active service, so I came up with a fun challenge: could I somehow get access to the internet without a data plan?"

He could, it turns out. Ajit discovered that T-Mobile allows devices connected to its LTE network access to some websites and servers without an account. That free access extends to Ookla's Speedtest app, which pings a nearby server to test the phone's upload and download speeds. Ookla is owned by Ziff Davis, PCMag's parent company.

By setting up his own proxy server, Ajit was able to spoof T-Mobile into thinking that the data he was accessing came from Speedtest, when in reality his hacked connection had free reign of the Internet.

"Just like that, I now had access to data throughout the TMobile network without maintaining any sort of formal payments or contract," he wrote. "Just my phone's radios talking to the network's radios, free of any artificial shackles."

He noted that it in theory, it would be very easy for T-Mobile to sniff out such a proxy that was attempting to impersonate a whitelisted server. All they'd have to do is limit their access to the servers on Speedtest's public list. There are hundreds of servers, however, and there are likely other sites and apps that T-Mobile might want non-subscribers to have access to, so implementing such a whitelist would be a tedious task.

T-Mobile has not responded to PCMag's request for comment on whether it plans to fix Ajit's loophole, but his publically-available proxy server was no longer working as of Friday afternoon.

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