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Thread: DAS Hills Comnav

  1. #141
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    Default Replacing a monitored service

    Hi all,

    I used to pay for my alarm to be monitored (in my case the provider user used a Permaconn 4G for the communications) but had since cancelled that service which is why I purchased a ComNav earlier this year. After using the ComNav I still wanted to try and get the same equivalent service I had with the monitoring service, butwithout having to pay for it. After a bit of work I managed to do that and will describe it in this post. At the same time I will also consolidate all the great info I found from this thread along with other info I have found from other places, to save people from having to read all those posts going back 10years!!!

    Security Vulnerability
    First thing to be aware of is that older versions of ComNav has security vulnerabilities. Information can be found at CISA:. Information from the manufacturer, Carrier Global Corporation, can be found in their website:

    To resolve the vulnerability you need to be at version 4000-12 or later. As I bought mine this year my ComNav was at version 4000-16 (A55P004000-16). Not sure if you can get the firmware upgraded, I've seen bits of information indicating certain upgrades cannot be done remotely, so I assume it would still be possible doing it with a directly connect PC.

    Need to be in program mode
    With the latest firmware that addressed the security vulnerabilities you must always be in program mode to browse to the ComNav to configure it. That is feature 19, segment 6 has no effect.

    Notification via the app
    The ComNav allows you to enter three different email addresses to send alerts. In order to be alerted via the app (Ultrasync+) you need to configure one of those email addresses to the one defined in the app. You can find that email address in the app where you configure the settings for your ComNav. Amongst other settings like serial number, passcode etc, there is one for Notification Services. When you enable that feature there will be an odd looking email address under "Push Notifications" like phone@uUs.n. That is the email address you need to use if you want app notifications.

    Voice or SMS reporting
    The ComNav is able report alerts via voice or SMS, noting SMS requires access to an SMS gateway. The issue is that it does this via the telephone line. Fewer and fewer people use a fixed telephone line. Alarm panels used to call their monitoring station via the telephone line, but since NBN and its use of VoIP, alarm panels use of telephone lines has at best been problematic, which is why things line the Permaconn are used. The voice or SMS reporting might actually work, but many no longer have a fixed telephone line. I still have a fixed phone line on VoIP but all the handsets are cordless and the base station has an Ethernet connection, that is I donít have anything where I can plug in an analogue telephony device. Furthermore, I have have used the one cable run to connect the ComNav Ethernet port.

    Instead you can use a voice or SMS gateway service that can receive an email, which will then convert that email and send it to you as an SMS or voice call. I have used a few SMS gateways but for the ComNav I use ClickSend because it supports both voice and SMS (and has a great API, see description further down). Currently it costs $0.07 for an SMS or $0.15 for a voice call. When you signup you get some free credit to try it out ($2 I think). Minimum top up is $20.

    This type of service does not have very strong authentication. Basically in your ClickSend account you configure which email addresses you will be sending from. I actually send ComNav email reports to myself first and then resend it to ClickSend with a new From: email address, so that ClickSend processes a unique email address rather than the generic do-not-reply@message-report.com. If you don't do this then anybody can configure their ComNav to send to ClickSend and make you pay for it. In fact you don't even need a ComNav as you can spoof any email address including do-not-reply@message-report.com.

    You will have to look into your email provider if you want to do the same as me. On some basic providers it may not even be possible.

    Emulating an alarm monitoring service
    What I described above should be achievable by most people, but as I mentioned earlier I wanted to replace my monitoring service. My monitoring service would keep trying to call me or other numbers until somebody has acknowledged the report. If I received an alert relating to my ComNav I could easily miss/ignore it, especially with all the other messages trying to get my attention. What I needed was for the ComNav to keep trying to call me until I acknowledge the call.

    I originally tried looking at using various no-code automation platforms like IFTTT, Zapier and Make, but all had restrictions on what can be done on theIR free tier and ultimately could not do what I needed to do. The only one that had a small chance of doing it might have been Make, but I needed to spend more time on it.

    A colleague mentioned to me that Gmail had a powerful scripting capabilities. I had no idea free Gmail had this capability. The whole Google ecosystem has a development environment called Apps Script that can be used on any of the Google assets, including Gmail. It is surprisingly powerful with its own IDE, uses Javascript, and best of all it is all free. Using Apps Script I was able to do everything I needed, but please remember it does require an ability to write code.

    Using Gmail with Apps Script I was able to make API calls to ClickSend. ClickSend's API is quite extensive, easily better than any other gateway provider I have used. It does not cost anything extra to use it, you just pay for the SMS or voice call costs. Essentially, I programmed Gmail to recognise an alarm report from ComNaso that when it receives the alarm report it gets ClickSend to try to make 5 phone calls to me, each 2 minutes apart (or any number of calls with any wait period I wanted). If I answered the call I could acknowledge that I heard it by pressing a key on phone. If I pressed a key ClickSend would stop trying to call. Furthermore I also did this via SMS. When Gmail received an alarm report it also got ClickSend to send me 5 SMS messages each 2 minutes apart. I could acknowledge I saw the message by sending a reply like "Y", which will then tell ClickSend to stop trying. If ClickSend received an acknowledgement from either the phone or reply SMS, it would stop trying on both.

    Phone line reliability
    When I had my alarm monitored, also installed a mobile GSM module as a backup path for the alarm panel. I didn't wanted my alarm monitoring communications to be dependent on the telephone line which can easily be defeated as the phone line is necessarily easily located from the outside which can then be cut. With the 2G shutdown and NBN, it was later changed to a Permaconn device.

    My Internet service at home is FTTN, so it uses the old copper phone line but it can survive a phone line being cut. I use a modem that has a 4G SIM as a backup. I bought a Telstra Smart Gateway 2, and hacked it. You can buy these from various marketplaces for around $30 as many people are trying to offload them. I only use the modem in bridging mode as it is one of the best modems for line synch. The modem is then connected to my pfSense firewall and the rest of my network. I hacked the modem to allow me to use the 4G when needed and to also keep the 4G connection up all the time. The modem in its normal state activates 4G only when it detects a line failure, which introduces several minutes delay before Internet communications is restored. My pfSense firewall will use the 4G path when it sees the FTTN connection is not working, it looks out for packet loss or high latency. I tested it in a worst case scenario when the FTTN connection has just died followed immediately by an alarm event. I still received the alarm notification within a minute.

    To do this will require some networking expertise. There is a massive thread on Whirlpool all about hacking this modem. Note, you donít have to be with Telstra to use this modem. I am not and furthermore the 4G sim still works. I think it only gets disabled if you start to use it a your primary connection. At ~$30 each I bought a second one as a spare.

    Final comments
    It was reasonably easy to get a prototype working (voice only at the time). Most of my time was spent trying to learn Javascipt, last time I did any coding in anger was 30 years ago using Pascal, so had to get the hang of the new programming world like object oriented programing, no need for explicit type declarations etc. After getting the prototype working I then did other improvements. There was a bit more work to address cases like receiving multiple alarm reports etc. There was also a bit more work to accommodate some restrictions on Apps Script like 6min execution time on the free tier. For example 5 calls, 2minutes apart could run out of execution time. Of course expanding it to support SMS ... and so forth.

    Using this I have effectively replaced the primary function of a monitoring service and the only costs that are incurred are the costs of the SMS messages or voice messages ... just need some coding skills.

    Z
    Last edited by zforum69; 17-07-22 at 11:02 AM.



  • #142
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    Default ComNav Considerations

    Further to my previous post I thought I'd also mention some considerations when deciding to implement ComNav.

    Cloud based service
    The ComNav communicates with a cloud based service to send alert reports. Unfortunately there is no ability to configure the ComNav not to use the cloud service, which is what I would have preferred. This means you are dependent on the cloud service provider to continue to provide and maintain the service. There is very little visibility on what this service is. See

    App history and support
    The current app is UltraSync+, was UltraConnect and before then was xConnect. If you read through the reviews of the UltraSync+ app there were periods of dissatisfaction including a review in Jan 2022 saying it was abandoned because the company went out of business in 2019 with effectively no support from Dec 2021. All before my time but it seems to be working fine now.

    App unreliability
    I found alerts sent to the app to be unreliable. I'm using version 2.21 on Android. I suspect it has a lot to do with the state of the app on my phone. Setting the app battery optimisation to Not optimised did not help. If an alert notification was sent after I have recently opened the app, then I would get it. However if I did the test a few hours later I would not get it. Despite the app not reliably getting notifications, I always receive alarm reports sent to my email.

    Alert report delays
    I have had the ComNav working for just over 6 weeks and have noticed occasional delays in receiving alarm reports in my email. My alarm panel does a daily test early in the morning and I've noticed that on 6 occasions that report got to me up to 3 hours later. No particular pattern nor can I replicate it at will. Furthermore, whenever I do any test it delivers the alarm report within a minute. When examining the email headers it seems it uses Mandrill, which is now part of Mailchimp. Both are a mass email delivery platforms but in general Mandrill is used for transactional emails while Mailchip is used for email marketing. From the headers the issue seems to be with the ComNav cloud service provider not Mandrill.

    Best practice for secure ComNav deployment
    I have already mentioned in the earlier post about security vulnerabilities in earlier versions of ComNav. This is why I restrict the ComNav and all my other Internet of Things (IOT) devices on what they can do. I keep IOT devices (e.g. smart light bulbs, TVs etc) on their own DMZ (segregated network), away from my main network. The reason for doing this is that if an IOT device is compromised any damage can be contained. IOT devices are not like your PCs and smartphones that get regular updates. Furthermore, any update that may be available might not be easily applied, let alone automatically. ComNav is a perfect example of that. IOT devices are typically low cost (especially compared to PCs and smartphones), which means maintenance (particularly security maintenance) on such devices is frequently a low priority. It comes down to economics. Should a vendor spend money on updates for a $30 smart powerboard or $15 smart light bulb which appears to be working fine, or do they use the money to add more features and capabilities to the product to sell more of them?

    I put the ComNav its own dedicated DMZ with nothing else so that I can also ensure that its traffic has priority over everything else. As I wanted to restrict what it can do I examined which cloud service it connects to. When checking the DNS records it connects to zerowire (specifically s1.zerowire.com and s2.zerowire.com) on port 443 and the IP address indicates the service is hosted on Amazon AWS. Like ComNav and the Hills Reliance (Interlogix NetworX) alarm panels, Zerowire is owned by the Carrier Corporation. I have configured my firewall to strictly restrict traffic from the ComNav to zerowire on port 443.

    I know most households would not know how to implement DMZs, but I've started to see standard home routers/modems come out pre-configured with multiple networks, allowing you to isloate certain networks for Guest Wifi or even IOT. It seems the need is generally recognised and vendors are trying to find ways to make it easy to implement. I suspect most would probably not use this feature even if available but if you have the expertise and your network equipment can do it, I recommend you do so.

    Z

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    Please disregard. Can log in the UltraSync app now. Tks.
    Last edited by lugiandc391; 06-09-22 at 03:04 PM.

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    Not sure if this thread is still being used.

    I am using the ultrasync+ app and when I want to select "Show Event selection" in Notification Services it says:
    Push Notification - Missing/invalid http parameter. any idea what that might be?
    I don't get Push notification but I believe everything is set up correctly.

    Thanks
    P

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    Disregard everyone. just got it to work

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    Quote Originally Posted by P-Trade View Post
    Disregard everyone. just got it to work
    So what did you do to get it to work?

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    Quote Originally Posted by secure View Post
    So what did you do to get it to work?
    There was a mistake with the email and device name.
    When you first fire up the app click on the "!" In the top corner which brings you to the Site name, description and so on.
    Make sure your User name is the master log in followed by the correct password. Click on Notification Services and write the email under the push notifications down. Make sure there is no mistake and it is turned on.
    Also, confirm your serial number is correct, it should be found on the back of your ComNav connected to your system.
    Return to main and log in with your master code, click on more in the bottom corner and click on email. The email reporting gives you three options where you can type in the email from the previous (written down) Notification Services.
    Make sure your config shows you are a master user, save and hopefully this should fix it.

    Further I am using a Permaconn to establish a connection via my reliance system to connect the comnav.

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited by P-Trade; 22-11-22 at 12:30 PM.

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    Hey all.
    I have run extra cables from my Reliance system to my garage door and front gate, which are currently being able to be opened with my configured remote control. With the set up I have the option to open and close it via the app in the "output control" is there a combination I can use via the panel to open and close these controls.
    I went through the manual but it doesnt seem to be in there. Any ideas anyone?
    I am using a Hills NX148E as a fixed control panel on the wall.
    Last edited by P-Trade; 22-11-22 at 12:31 PM.

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    The outputs on the comnav board can only be operated by the app as far as I know.
    Possibly could add a relay card / output card to the panel and parallel up the outputs between relay board and comnav board. There is a option in user code programming for code to activate aux outputs. I have not tried or done this before.

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    My Hills set up:

    I have a reliance 128.

    Previous function:

    Before NBN, my previous set up in my house contained a DS2 door station sharer which was run through ADSL.

    Lets say someone rang the intercom (no video) our telephon would ring with the ability to talk to the person outside; with simply pressing the # key on the handset the front gate opened.

    After the ABN came along and all ADSL phone lines were not longer available the phone function ceased with it.

    I have a key pad next to the old intercom at the front gate which allows us to open the front gate via a key combination.

    Several 4 button remotes are set up to open/ close the front gate as well as the garage door, arm and disarm our Hills alarm system.


    I mapped it out and attached a picture for guidance.





    Before running a new cable to the front gate I would like to have your opinion on the following:

    I want to be able to open and close the front gate via the ultrasync plus app (outlet control)
    I tried to use the black and red cable which were previously used to be able for the phone option (on the drawing going into the Cat5e Front gate) to be connected to the reliance Rly 1 N.O and Rly 1 Com.

    I checked the cable and when I put them against eachother the gate openes.

    However, once connected to the RLY 1 N.O & Com. Nothing happenes when the outlet control is activated.

    There are already cable running to RLY 1 & 2, which I will need to track.

    Any idea what am I doing wrong??
    Last edited by P-Trade; 27-11-22 at 04:12 PM.

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    Don't use relay 1 and relay 2 on the main alarm panel. They are for internal siren and blue strobe.

    You need to connect to relay output on Comnav board.

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