Networking

Software to detect if your ISP is tampering with your Internet connection

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has released software that will help users determine whether their Net connection is being tampered with by their service provider.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has released software that will help users determine whether their Net connection is being tampered with by their service provider.

An excerpt from Associated Press:

"People have all sorts of problems, and they don't know whether to attribute that to some sort of misconfiguration, or deliberate behavior by the ISP," said Seth Schoen, a staff technologist with EFF.

The new software compares lists of data packets sent and received by two different computers and looks for discrepancies between what one sent and the other actually received. Previously, the process had to be done manually.

ISPs tampering with network users' connection to crack down on P2P (peer-to-peer) file sharing has been a major issue this year. Last month, the Associated Press in a nation-wide test confirmed that ISPs like Comcast use protocol-level inspections to detect and kill P2P traffic.

Dubbed as the Test Your ISP Project, EFF is developing software tools to let users test their own broadband connections.

Procedures to observe data packets to check for tampering are available here ( thanks bwilmot@ !)

More information:

EFF software keeps tab on ISPs (Inquirer)

EFF strikes back against ISP interference (WebProNews)

8 comments
gardoglee
gardoglee

I maintain two wireless paths at home, one a simple Actiontec DSL modem/AP and one a FON appliance. Since both connect to the same DSL line, I had wondered why I had so much trouble maintaining a Cisco VPN connection using IPSec when I went through the FON connection, and why it drops every 3-10 minutes. All of the investigating I tried to do (and I admit this is not my area of expertise) indicated that the machine at my end was requesting that the connection be terminated. This tool will give me a way to take a closer look. It will be very upsetting if I discover that FON is interpreting secure VPN connections as some sort of illicit activity and injecting hangup packets, particularly since I had hoped to use FON when I travel to connect back to the work network via VPN.

Tig2
Tig2

I have been thinking about doing some packet analysis on Mom's machine because her DSL drops the connection routinely on her. I would be interested in discovering the root cause of the drops. I'd also be interested to find out if her ISP is doing this kind of monitoring. Mom reads her email and does a very little browsing- virtually no bandwidth.

JCitizen
JCitizen

to download the test file. Maybe that wasn't EFF's mission. Or maybe I am just too tired today to even think/see straight.

JCitizen
JCitizen

to download the test file. Maybe that wasn't EFF's mission. Or maybe I am just too tired today to even think/see straight.

Absolutely
Absolutely

Since "Mom reads her email and does a very little browsing- virtually no bandwidth," what's the potential connection you see to monitoring or traffic manipulation by her ISP? I'm just assuming you do see a connection, because you commented on both in the same post, but nothing I know implies any connection. PS Good job on all the recent thumbs! I was trying to keep up when you were hovering around 20 and I had a similar number, so I've noticed that a lot of people are recently grading you "helpful". Nice work!

Dumphrey
Dumphrey

Is that a user that very rarely uses any bandwidth of note, would be much less likely to complain if their connection see-sawed a lot. Cutting bandwidth to one person means someone else gets to use it, it?s like insurance companies, deny for a while, then pay, never pay right out. In both cases, the provider/insurer is gaining a resource, be it spare bandwidth, or a few days more interest on some money. Individually, none of this is very significant. What?s 25 sec of 3 Mbps bandwidth? What?s a weeks interest on $3000? But if you multiply that by 1000? It starts to add up.

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