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Researcher's Tool Catches Net Neutrality Cheaters

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the why-so-slow? dept.

The Internet 131

Sparrowvsrevolution writes "At the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas Wednesday, researcher Dan Kaminsky announced he will release a free software tool for detecting when an Internet service provider is artificially slowing down or speeding up traffic to and from a website, a tool he is calling N00ter, or 'neutral router.' N00ter functions like a VPN, routing traffic through a proxy and disguising its source and destination. But instead of encrypting the traffic in both directions as VPNs do, it instead spoofs the traffic from a Web site to a user to make it seem to be coming from any Web site that the user wants to test. That traffic can be compared with a normal connection to the N00ter server without a spoofed IP address, to spot any artificial changes in speed."

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Very cool tool (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36984116)

Now if only, instead of asking the violent State to force ISPs to maintain a transparent internet, these people would form a voluntary 'Association of Net Neutral ISPs' so that people can vote with their money.

Re:Very cool tool (2)

Winchestershire (1495475) | more than 2 years ago | (#36984186)

I agree. If implemented, I could see ISP's trying to distance themselves from throttling. The only problem is, you need a sizable group of consumers to actively participate in order to have enough "teeth" to give the ISP's a metaphorical bite to the rear.

Re:Very cool tool (2)

gx5000 (863863) | more than 2 years ago | (#36984806)

I can see a lot of us jumping in, Bell and Rogers should take note.

Re:Very cool tool (3, Insightful)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 2 years ago | (#36984946)

There is a difference between throttling (which absolutely is net neutral) and throttling to a specific website (which is not net neutral). I point this out because without fail, people here always conflate the two and mistakenly believe all throttling is both bad and non-neutral.

Re:Very cool tool (1)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 2 years ago | (#36985212)

I don't know if people are really conflating the two.

I think it's completely non-conflationary to state that general throttling is just plain bad. However I would agree that it is conflationary to state that generalized non-specific throttling is non-neutral. It certainly is neutral, but it's still very very bad.

Re:Very cool tool (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 2 years ago | (#36985538)

You just invalidated your argument. There is nothing inherently bad about throttling. This is called quality of service (or QoS). The fact you purposely conflate the two after immediately being told this is a common problem pretty much invalidates your argument as it confirms you have no knowledge of the things you pretend to argue.

Re:Very cool tool (3, Insightful)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 2 years ago | (#36985966)

There is a great deal that is "inherently bad" about throttling. It adds complexity and phase delay to all network traffic, it often creates new single points of failure to force the traffic through the relevant "traffic shaping" device, and it's quite expensive to implement in hardware and to maintain.

Its actual use is often to protect over-committed networks from actually providing the paid for connectivity to all customers. It's often badly implemented and interferes with latency sensitive traffic such as the very games and video for which customers pay high bandwidth prices, And it's often tied to routing manipulation, where the BGP tables of the routers are manipulated to channel traffic through the less expensive but poorly connected routes owned by your local carrier, degrading overall connectivity, and to channel traffic through the traffic shaping servers themselves. The results are chaotic for customers.

Re:Very cool tool (3, Informative)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 2 years ago | (#36986102)

No. It doesn't mean a network is overcommitted. It may be overcommitted if everyone goes as fast as they possibly can with no throttling, but if you have tiered service then you need to make sure that people who don't pay for the bandwidth don't take away from the people who do.

You can't hang your argument on saying because it is badly implemented by some, it is bad by default.

Re:Very cool tool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36986244)

I don't think it is difficult to understand that if I pay for a given speed, I want that speed. ISPs, just reserve us the bandwidth we have paid for! If I pay for a house of a given size, I own that house. I dont want people living there when the I'm off on holidays, it's my space.

Re:Very cool tool (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#36987204)

But to give you just what you paid for, in general the ISP will have to throttle. If it doesn't, you'll instead use all the bandwidth you can technically get, and others who have paid for that bandwidth might suffer.

Re:Very cool tool (0)

Khyber (864651) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988768)

No, they don't have to throttle. Here in the USA, they can follow the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and UPGRADE THEIR INFRASTRUCTURE AS THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO.

They are oversold and they are throttling and NOT DELIVERING WHAT WE PAID FOR.

How is this difficult to comprehend?

Re:Very cool tool (1)

black soap (2201626) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988878)

.... And then the ISPs might be forced not to oversell bandwidth. Where is the problem again?

Re:Very cool tool (1)

spazdor (902907) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988306)

If you pay for a given speed, but the ISP has more capacity than that, then they have to throttle you to the speed you paid for in order to guarantee their other customers the speed they paid for.

Re:Very cool tool (2)

CCarrot (1562079) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988860)

If you pay for a given speed, but the ISP has more capacity than that, then they have to throttle you to the speed you paid for in order to guarantee their other customers the speed they paid for.

Indeed. Because my biggest issue with my ISP is that I'm always getting way more bandwidth than they promised when I signed up. Damn those tricky bastards!

Bandwidth overcommitment seems to be a viable business model for ISP's, mostly because the average Joe doesn't know how to verify that he's getting the speed he's paying for. Except at 3 in the morning on a Tuesday, it's rare for us to see speeds even close to what we signed up for. Trouble is, if we sign up for a 'lighter' package, then we're opening ourselves up to being throttled even at 3 am...

What would be interesting to see is an ISP that charged based on actual bandwidth availability throughout the day * usage. So if you use it heavily in the afternoon and evening, but bandwidth is chopped back drastically because of all the other people in your neighborhood streaming the latest talking dog video, well, at least your bill at the end of the month is less bruising. If you use it heavily at 3 in the morning, and your bandwidth is exceptional, then expect to pay more for it this month. Perhaps this would 'encourage' ISP's to upgrade their infrastructure to capture all that 'lost revenoo'...and in turn provide their customers with speedier, more reliable connections when they need it the most.

Re:Very cool tool (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988348)

If I pay for a house of a given size, I own that house. I dont want people living there when the I'm off on holidays, it's my space.

Better analogy:
If I pay for a train ticket, I get to use a fraction of the capacity of the rail system for a limited period of time.

Re:Very cool tool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36988898)

Except that unless you've opted for a connection with an SLA, you're not paying for that speed. The whole reason sub-$100/mo connections can achieve multi-megabit speeds is due to overselling the connections based on being able to depend on people underusing their connection. If you want a guarantee, pay the $200+/mo for a T1 and enjoy every bit of that 1.5 megabit. Otherwise, quit bitching about QoS slowing down your torrents.

If I pay for a house of a given size, I own that house. I dont want people living there when the I'm off on holidays, it's my space.

Except you've purchased a time share and seem to have this bizarre notion that you own the house. Until you buy the house outright, you can't complain about sharing.

Re:Very cool tool (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 2 years ago | (#36987124)

There is a great deal that is "inherently bad" about throttling.

You keep saying that but its simply not true. Saying it repeatedly only means you like to repeat yourself - it doesn't validate your argument. Throttling is commonly used to ensure QoS. For the vast majority of people it means ensuring they get what they paid for.

So please, tell us how QoS is bad.

Basically your entire argument boils down to, some minority do it poorly therefore it is all bad. If your insanely stupid logic, because some criminals do insanely bad things, you are one evil, twisted, demented motherfucker.

Obviously, your argument is full shit, unfounded, and flies in the face of what any good network engineer would do.

Re:Very cool tool (1)

JMJimmy (2036122) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988164)

QoS is one thing but general protocol throttling (ie: leaving HTTP alone but reducing P2P to dialup speeds) is another.

QoS is also very subjective. Some users may want to ensure their gaming is unaffected by non-gaming traffic, others may want their webpages to load fastest, others yet may want their video to stream the best. Allowing the ISP to do so in a completely arbitrary manner that suits it's interests instead of the customer's is the real issue. It's also a slippery slope into companies paying to ensure they are given priority in the QoS setup even if generally they would normally be throttled.

Re:Very cool tool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36985748)

I think it's completely non-conflationary to state that general throttling is just plain bad.

This is your opinion. If I purchase xGB of data access in a month and then I consume that amount of bandwidth then my ISP has a few options:

1 stop delivering my traffic
2 continue delivering my traffic but charge $$/GB for the extra
3 throttle my traffic and charge $/GB for the extra
4 throttle my traffic but do not charge more

I can see different use cases where each of those different plans would be best for different consumers, including the throttling plans. Just because you want everything for free doesn't mean there's a valid business model that can afford to give it to you. However, it is "just plain bad" if I buy is unlimited data from a company and they lie and give me xGB+throttling instead. That's not bad because it's throttling, it's bad because it's *lying*.

Re:Very cool tool (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 2 years ago | (#36986282)

That's not bad because it's throttling, it's bad because it's *lying*.

If I offer to sell you a stab in the face, it's not bad because I'm telling you the truth? Or, perhaps you might think being stabbed in the face is a suboptimal condition, therefore you wouldn't want to enter into the contract.

Re:Very cool tool (2)

JMJimmy (2036122) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988524)

Here's a real life example:

I purchase a connection advertised at say 2mbps. That means I should theoretically be able to transfer up to 641.6 GB in a month. They place a 20 GB/month limit on my data transfer and throttle me down to 0.3mbps after. Are they really selling me a 2mbps connection?

Really, if I used the connection to it's full potential I would be throttled before a 24 hour period is up.

Now you say I should pay more to be able to fully utilize the potential of the connection? Netflix CEO has stated that it costs less than $0.005/GB to transfer data (note that deployment costs are not included in this as those costs are recouped by the "access" charge on your bill). We're strictly talking the cost of operating/maintaining the network. The company in question wants to charge $1.95/GB or ~$1,212/month for me to utilize the 2mbps I pay for every month.

This is the connection I'm on now, it's actually advertised as up to 7mbps but due to my distance to the tower it's only 2mbps. In addition to the throttling described they also throttle P2P. I'm on it because there are no other high speed options in my area save satellite internet which is even more expensive.

Re:Very cool tool (1)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 2 years ago | (#36986046)

Neutral throttling is definitely NOT bad. It's a way to guarantee service levels to your subscribers by not allowing one person to saturate your bandwidth.

If you limit everyone to some max speed (as long as that is disclosed as their service level) then nobody can basically take over the network or at least load it to the point that others suffer.

In practice it takes a number of people all maxing out their connections to soak it all up, but that's the idea. Some throttling, as long as it is not used to the benefit or detriment of some kinds of traffic, is perfectly fine and necessary.

Re:Very cool tool (3, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 2 years ago | (#36984202)

And where will these Neutral ISPs get all their bandwidth? Why, from the big telcos, and we're back to square one.

You can believe whatever you want to about "violent states", but I believe that strict regulation with competition provides the best service. Letting private companies do what they like provides only chicancery, poorer services, and ultimately the collapse or failure of the entire system.

The "violent state" needs to step in and tell the Big Telcos how high to jump. If they object, they can simply surrender their operating licences and go home, and the government can take their assets into custodianship in the national interest. This is a responsible way to run an essential public utility and not dissimilar to the way banks are run--in the US at least.

Re:Very cool tool (1)

Winchestershire (1495475) | more than 2 years ago | (#36984488)

One problem with your assessment, ObsessiveMathsFreak, the majority of those big telcos are also ISP's, so they to would be set to the same standards. While I see the merit in what you are saying about government regulations, do you have any idea the outcry that would happen if the government (especially in the case of the US) tried to take over a private enterprise (various ISP's and/or Telcos) and turn it into another state funded bureaucracy. I suspect any such actions by the government would likely go over like a lead balloon.

Re:Very cool tool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36985298)

In Canada they're *supposed* to be regulated by the CRTC providing the same model ObsessiveMathsFreak suggests. The problem with the regulatory body, like any, is they are susceptable to corruption and end up working in the ISP's favor instead of the public like they were designed to.

Re:Very cool tool (2)

Caesar Tjalbo (1010523) | more than 2 years ago | (#36986020)

One problem with your assessment, ObsessiveMathsFreak, the majority of those big telcos are also ISP's, so they to would be set to the same standards.

Making it even more difficult is that telcos see the usage of their mobile services change significantly from calls and SMS's to data usage, effectively changing them into ISP's. In The Netherlands we've gotten 'net neutrality' legislation because of the telcos. The problem is that they don't want to be seen as ISP's (in their smart phone business) but prefer to continue to charge for separate items (like a Skype conversation or a bundle with certain apps) and also would like content deliverers (say Youtube and Facebook) to pay.

The outcry from the telcos is there of course, just like the outcry of a few ISP's which offered filtered internet on religious grounds. But so was the outcry of consumers and politicians when we found out that telcos were using DPI and we now find out they collectively start offering expensive data-based subscriptions.

What you're looking for is some balance between the power of telcos and ISP's on one side and the freedom of customers on the other. If that's skewed I think it makes sense to try to assess the amount of competition in the market. If that's too low, regulation certainly is an option.

Re:Very cool tool (1)

spazdor (902907) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988372)

do you have any idea the outcry that would happen if the government (especially in the case of the US) tried to take over a private enterprise (various ISP's and/or Telcos) and turn it into another state funded bureaucracy.

Actually, I think you just described exactly how the incumbent big telcos came into being. None of them were self-built, they were all the beneficiaries of massive state funding, not to mention right-of-way favours that only the state could grant. To turn around and treat them as if they're now a completely private enterprise which owes the public nothing is absurd.

Re:Very cool tool (4, Informative)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#36984778)

With telecom, the libertarian solution simply doesn't work.

Basic micro-econ depends on the idea that if the price of a good goes too high, more sellers enter the market to take advantage of the higher profits, which lowers the price due to competition, so the price returns to equilibrium. Equally important, if the price goes too high, buyers get priced out of the market and stop buying the service.

However, with telecom, new sellers can't enter the market without regulations to support them. A new seller in the telecom market will not be able to get in - any established competitor (call them BS&S) won't make peering agreements at reasonable costs (because the value of the peering agreement is much greater to the newcomer than BS&S), which means any customers of the new guy won't be able to reach the vast majority of people with phones, which means nobody will become a customer, so the newcomer quickly goes out of business. Therefore, the government adds in a regulation requiring peering agreements at the cost of setting up the pipe between the peers. But now the newcomer has to get a signal from their switches to the customer, which means they have to either run lines to all of its customers (while BS&S can use the lines already there), or lease access to the lines from BS&S, who will charge a high enough price that the newcomer can't offer a lower price than BS&S, so the newcomer can't get any customers and goes out of business. So the government adds another regulation requiring BS&S to lease line access at cost.

And you also have a situation where BS&S refuses to serve rural customers, or charge ridiculous prices to do so, because it's much more expensive to run a line out to them. The rural citizens complain that it's unfair that they have to pay $300 a month for phone service while city folk get it for $30. So the government adds another regulation saying that all competitors must sell the same service to all customers at the same price. But that means that the newcomer who's trying to enter the market by undercutting BS&S on price can't manage in a rural area because the cost of getting to the more remote customers is too high to make anything on it. So now the government has to differentiate between competitors who are required to serve rural customers at the same price as city folk from competitors that don't because they're newcomers.

And the story continues, but the point is that governments don't just write regulations for the heck of it, and most of the telecom regulations exist for a reason.

Re:Very cool tool (2)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | more than 2 years ago | (#36984878)

Stop being so levelheaded. Libertarians understand full well that privatizing limited resources will work just fine. I was going to level the entire state of MA and make it multiple different private highways, so that YOU the consumer have a choice. Don't go against the grain here. Anybody could enter the telcom market, all they have to do is be innovative. How about wires held in place by a fleet of helicopters? You never thought of that!

LOL.. in other words, this level headed post of yours should make sense, but I bet a lot of people disagree with you.

Re:Very cool tool (2)

Freddybear (1805256) | more than 2 years ago | (#36985216)

Actually, the libertarian solution would work just fine. It just wouldn't necessarily give the result that you wish you could impose by force.
If that's a "failure" then it's simply your failure to deal with reality as it is, instead of as you wish it could be, if you could impose your wishes by force.

Yes, telcos have a massive investment in infrastructure, so new providers are at a disadvantage. Using the force of government to try to change that costs everybody more.

Yes, rural customers pay more, because it costs more to serve them. Using the force of government to try to change that costs everybody more.

Yes, governments write regulations for a reason, the reason just isn't what you wish it would be. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regulatory_capture [wikipedia.org]

Re:Very cool tool (1)

Hythlodaeus (411441) | more than 2 years ago | (#36987268)

If that's a "failure" then it's simply your failure to deal with reality as it is, instead of as you wish it could be, if you could impose your wishes by force.

You seem to have redefined reality to exclude use of force. I think you meant that use of force to prevent monopolization is unethical, rather than unreal. A consequentialist argument for this position would be inconsistent with a historical examination of actual monopolies in practice. A deontological argument would propose that the monopoly has a right not to have violence done to it, or society has a duty not to perform violence. Proposing such a right or duty would require supporting proof.

A right may be a natural or legal right. The supreme court has ruled that, in the U.S., the government possesses antitrust authority on the basis of its authority to regulate interstate commerce, so there is not a legal right for monopolies to be free from interference.

The only way for a right to be a natural right is for it to be naturally secured de facto. If a right is not secured in a state of nature, then it can only be secured by human agency - and is therefore a legal rather than natural right. Any right not to have violence committed upon oneself is not provided by nature - rather the opposite. The right to commit violence is a natural right because it cannot be curtailed without being exercised. It is however an alienable right, whose provisional alienation is the foundation upon which legal rights are built.

Establishing that the government has a (natural, rather than legal) duty not to commit violence would require recourse to Kant's categorical imperative (or Rand/Rothbard's clumsy reformulations of the same). Since the key criteria of the categorical imperative is to act by principles that that one would wish to be applied universally, this is essentially consequentialism in deontological clothing so brings us full circle.

Deontology can only get us so far as to say its sensible to alienate our right to violence to participate in a political system. The political system defines within itself what actions are right according to itself. Consequentialism can judge the correctness of the political system.

With reference to telecommunications monopolies:
We are participating in a political system.
The political system has determined monopolies require regulation.
Examination of the alternatives gives no reason to believe life would be better without this regulation.

Re:Very cool tool (1)

Freddybear (1805256) | more than 2 years ago | (#36987592)

You seem to have redefined reality to make it possible to use force to achieve your desired goals without having to suffer the economic and political consequences.

You can declare all the "legal rights" you want, and the Supreme Court might even agree with you, but that does not eliminate the economic cost of those "rights". There is no such thing as a free lunch. Pretending that it is "fair" or "better" to tax some to pay for free lunches for others does not make it so.

Re:Very cool tool (1)

Hythlodaeus (411441) | more than 2 years ago | (#36987700)

There's a difference between identifying externalities, and making a cost/benefit analysis, versus declaring that since externalities may exist, whole domains of human behavior are inherently illegitimate.

Libertarian might work (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 2 years ago | (#36987456)

If we were starting this from scratch. But we're not. We have an existing system that includes various monopolies and duopolies all over the country. These ensure that basic free market principles won't work to their fullest, leaving ISPs free to abuse their customers.

The government has also already given hundreds of billions in considerations to the existing companies to build their infrastructure, an advantage new competition won't get, especially if we suddenly go free market.

Re:Libertarian might work (1)

Freddybear (1805256) | more than 2 years ago | (#36987980)

So the use of government force (taxing some to give "considerations" to others) justifies the further use of government force (to preserve the monopoly of those others), and we all end up paying for it.

I wasn't going in that direction (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988952)

The use of government force (taxing some to give "considerations" to others) does not justify the further use of government force on others (again taxing some to give "considerations" to others) in order to counter the monopoly. Artificially pumping up competition on taxpayer dollars is wrong.

ALL monopolies eventually fail unless they are perpetually mandated by law as such. Even the Standard Oil monopoly was already starting to crack under market pressures, its market share having shrunk drastically from its height, by the time of the breakup. It wouldn't have lasted much longer anyway.

What we can do to alleviate the situation is prevent the monopolists from taking any further action to use their monopoly position to supress competition. They have already voluntarily involved themselves with government, they partially owe their success to government action, so they can't complain when the government wishes to continue the involvement.

Re:Very cool tool (1)

spazdor (902907) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988424)

Actually, the libertarian solution would work just fine. It just wouldn't necessarily give the result that you wish you could impose by force.
If that's a "failure" then it's simply your failure to deal with reality as it is, instead of as you wish it could be, if you could impose your wishes by force.

This works equally well as an argument for legalizing murder. If the free market doesn't naturally give rise to a world where murders don't happen, well, tough shit! That's not a "failure", it's simply your failure to deal with a reality where it's most efficient for some people to get shanked!

Re:Very cool tool (1)

Digital Vomit (891734) | more than 2 years ago | (#36985294)

These are some of the important reasons why, as an essential service, the telecommunications grid needs to be nationalized. Imagine if roads or water pipes were similarly managed by private companies...

Too bad about the rural guy (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 2 years ago | (#36987362)

Guess what, it costs him more money to drive to the store, too.

You accept certain built-in costs when you move somewhere. Those in the city have higher property costs, but stores are closer and there's easier availability of fast Interent and other services.

Those out in the boonies pay much less for their property, and that's because it's so far away from those services and locations. By asking for Internet at the same price, they're trying to have their cake and eat it too. They paid less for their property, now the government (actually all other phone users through the Universal Service Fund) pays to improve the property's value for him by providing broadband.

Re:Very cool tool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36987624)

You've missed a key element. If this were a libertarian society, all stolen property would be returned, meaning, if the government forced me to allow lines to be buried on my property, I can remove them or demand payment for allowing them to stay there. It would effectively put the current players back to square one.

Re:Very cool tool (1)

kilfarsnar (561956) | more than 2 years ago | (#36985504)

The "violent state" needs to step in and tell the Big Telcos how high to jump... This is a responsible way to run an essential public utility and not dissimilar to the way banks are run--in the US at least.

I see, so in the US the government tells banks how high to jump? It doesn't seem that way to me.

Re:Very cool tool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36984242)

Such an Association would require the existence of infrastructure controlled by a member of the Association.
Since damn near all inter-city internet traffic (in the USA) goes over physical lines controlled in whole by non-neutral parties who have a heavy interest in seeing the entire concept of "Net Neutrality" removed from our collective consciousness... not going to happen.

Re:Very cool tool (2)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#36984270)

these people would form a voluntary 'Association of Net Neutral ISPs'

Voluntary self-regulation only works until the participants decide it's in their self interest to no longer participate. State intervention isn't a great idea either, but someone needs to look after the people/consumers and I'm afraid business & government will each server their own interests (or that of their lobbyists) when implementing some sort of regulation.

Re:Very cool tool (1)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | more than 2 years ago | (#36984920)

Like the unlimited bandwidth on wireless carriers. At first, AT&T cuts an unlimited plan, and everybody says, well thank god for the free market, we'll just switch. Then Verizon does it.. and people start going to the next carrier. But once the little guys noticed the big guys do it (and they did it for a reason), everybody in the market can say.. well gee, we won't lose any customers over this, since nobody offers it any more. And then unlimited bandwidth disappears as if it never existed, and consumers deal with it because it was across the board.

It's even worse with ISPs, because in a lot of places only one or two options even exist. I live just north of boston in NH, and the two carriers available to me don't bother fighting. It seems they're both in a race to the top (price wise).

Re:Very cool tool (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 2 years ago | (#36984582)

I'd love to see how the ISPs could lay their wire and cable without a "violent state".

Re:Very cool tool (0)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#36984892)

It's difficult to tell whether libertarians are woefully naive, have never met an actual human being, or are just trolling. When it's an anonymous coward, my bet goes on the third option.

Re:Very cool tool (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 2 years ago | (#36985154)

No, Libertarians (I'm one) know full well that the law of unintended consequences happens, and that when government gets involved, it just opens up to legal restrictions to competition. We call them barriers.

Legislating Net Neutrality WILL cause problems, and the Telcos will figure ways around it, and you'll have to keep legislating additional terms and restrictions, at which time the Telco's will build in all their own exemptions into the law, so it won't matter anyways.And you'll end up where Telcos buy their friends in DC and we''ll still be screwed. Exactly right where we are today.

Re:Very cool tool (1)

quasimofo (470535) | more than 2 years ago | (#36985602)

Let the government take control of it. It'll be better this time, they promise!

Re:Very cool tool (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#36984956)

This could work if we could actually vote with our money. Sadly, we cannot. No, not even in countries where there's more than one ISP available.

You currently have a perfect example right over in Europe. Austria, to be more exact. Austria boasts a huge number of mobile providers for such a small country (IIRC they have 4 mobile carriers), and a rather broad selection of ISPs (pretty much at least 3 ISPs anywhere, plus some more in towns). It should be the place where voting with your money should be easily possible, if anywhere. I doubt any other country has this rather big choice of carriers.

One of those carriers started implementing a "sevice fee". Pretty much a hidden price increase, you now pay X bucks a year on top of your monthly subscription fee. Of course, the first reaction of people was to drop them like they're hot and move to another provider (which is quite possible in Austria, since the law states that if your provider changes the contract unfavorably, you are allowed to terminate with no penalties).

Now, not two months later, ALL of them are coming around with a "service fee" of some sort. Most even charging the same amount of money like the role model.

Now please tell me how someone should vote with his money in a cartel situation like this? And they have about the most favorable initial situation from the customer's point of view that I know of. How much better could this be in any other place where you only have one or two ISPs to choose from?

Re:Very cool tool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36985436)

That's why cartels are illegal as well.

Re:Very cool tool (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#36986260)

Then why hasn't the US telecoms cartel been busted up? You see the exact same behavior with cellular billing.

But of course they're not officially a cartel like OPEC and there's no way to prove that they coordinate these customer-screwing actions. So you're fucked.

Re:Very cool tool (1)

Rewind (138843) | more than 2 years ago | (#36985278)

In most areas people can hardly "vote with their money" on internet providers already due to monopolies. I hardly see how this tool changes that. Also where do you live with your "violent State"?

Re:Very cool tool (1)

kilfarsnar (561956) | more than 2 years ago | (#36985604)

Everyone lives under a violent State. It's just a matter of how violent the state is. This is the case simply because every State has the implicit threat of violence (physical or financial) to keep everyone following the laws.

Re:Very cool tool (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#36986330)

Private companies threaten financial violence to keep everyone following the rules. For example Valve will wipe out your Steam library if you ever deny any charge they make to your credit card. Paypal will lock your account if...well, if they damn well please. Cellular providers (pretty much all of them in the US) threaten massive fees if you tether your phone to another device. How is this different? Sure you can opt out, but you can opt out of government too. Move to Somalia.

Re:Very cool tool (1)

kilfarsnar (561956) | more than 2 years ago | (#36987580)

Your suggestion for living without government violence is to move to Somalia? Do you know w hat the government of Somalia is like??

Re:Very cool tool (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#36987982)

Weak to practically nonexistant, with control over only a portion of the capital?

You aren't talking about the warlords are you? 'Cuz those are good free-market warlords.

Re:Very cool tool (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#36986146)

You know who wouldn't join that association? Any of the big ISPs.

Re:Very cool tool (1)

morgauxo (974071) | more than 2 years ago | (#36986526)

You give far too much credit to the consumers to think that will work. More likely, the majority will pay no attention to such tools and when a service they want to use runs slow they will blame the service and be happy to buy the monopoly service which is backed by their local broadband provider instead. Net neutrality translated to norm-speak is tl;dr.

Re:Very cool tool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36986948)

Oh yes. Why ask the violent state to maintain law and order? People should form a voluntary association of "People who don't stab or shoot other people" so that people can vote with their money. Why stop there? Why are there even rules in sports. It's so coercive. Players should just form voluntary associations of players who don't cheat.

Are you insane?

In other words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36984118)

My wife wants Bed Neutrality..now I know she's cheating!

article without the stupid "skip ad or wait" page (3, Informative)

rbrausse (1319883) | more than 2 years ago | (#36984196)

Re:article without the stupid "skip ad or wait" pa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36985072)

Funny never noticed any ads there, then again, I don't see ads pretty much anywhere.

Canadian ISPs (1)

Combatso (1793216) | more than 2 years ago | (#36984268)

The big blue ISP here in Canada throttles encrypted VPN traffic.. under the guise that p2p users use encrypted traffic to get around their DPI traffic shaping. So I wonder if this will work for us. I'll admit i didnt read TFA, as I was warned it was ad-laden, and I get cranky in the morning.

Re:Canadian ISPs (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#36984334)

How do they tell "encrypted VPN traffic" from SSL web traffic? Anything unreadable that isn't on port 443?

Re:Canadian ISPs (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#36984394)

anything that isn't plain youtube http's or on a white list.

for most normal users, they'll get away with it and the users will blame the other end's connection, not theirs, since youtube and bbc.co.uk and such load up fast.

you make the assumption that they wouldn't throttle ssl web traffic, whilst it's more probable that they indeed do, banking etc isn't affected badly - you can do that on a dial up anyways and it doesn't involve moving around large files.

i'm pretty sceptical about the technique in the article working for detecting usual traffic shaping throttling though, even if it's domain specific.

Re:Canadian ISPs (1)

neokushan (932374) | more than 2 years ago | (#36984548)

What makes you so sure they bother to differentiate between the two?

Re:Canadian ISPs (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#36984574)

I'm not sure they do, I just wonder if they hamper one of the most common and legitimate types of network traffic as a side-effect of slowing down those pesky file sharers so they can oversell harder.

Re:Canadian ISPs (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#36984902)

Most people don't use HTTPS much. They'll get a few plain-text pages over HTTPS, nothing more. If you only throttled encrypted connections after the first 100KB, most users would not notice any difference.

Re:Canadian ISPs (1)

mikael (484) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988654)

I'd imagine they could filter for non-ASCII content - our local ISP does some funny business with viewing webpages in that ASCII text webpage and linked scripts willl download first while images will take ages.

Wonder what happens if you try and use uuencode/uudecode to send data - would it be faster or slower than the equivalent binary data transmission?

Re:Canadian ISPs (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988760)

There's no way they could do that with encrypted traffic, it would all look like garbage. But I guess they could discriminate by where it's going.

If uuencode is like b64 then the encoded files would be bigger.

Re:Canadian ISPs (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#36984364)

Sure it will work, but you already know that your traffic is being shaped against your will. You don't need a tool.

Re:Canadian ISPs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36984398)

Rogers does as well.

Re:Canadian ISPs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36984752)

You mean Bell Canada? In my experience they don't. They absolutely do throttle torrent traffic during their peak usage times, but I've found putting it all through a vpn to my work gets around Bells throttling nicely. I'm in Toronto, perhaps they have different policies elsewhere.

Re:Canadian ISPs (1)

moozh84 (919301) | more than 2 years ago | (#36985322)

While it's true that Canadian ISPs already blatantly throttle whatever they want, they try to describe their throttling practices in such a way that doesn't inflame the masses to force more strict regulation. Not enough people care about VPN to make a stink. However, if we can catch them throttling other traffic, like Rogers was caught throttling World of Warcraft traffic (and claimed innocence through ignorance), it could make a lot of people angry. All they need is to get caught throttling something popular like YouTube, Facebook, Netflix, etc. to raise a lot of heads.

and where is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36984298)

no link to the actual tool?!? wtf

Re:and where is it? (3, Informative)

ProfanityHead (198878) | more than 2 years ago | (#36984366)

no link to the actual tool?!? wtf

Article said "released" and "will release shortly". Take your pick I guess?

At the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas Wednesday, Kaminsky released a free software tool for detecting when an Internet service provider (ISP) is artificially slowing down or speeding up traffic to and from a website, a program the well-known security researcher is calling N00ter, or “neutral router.”

Then:

N00ter, a tool that Kaminsky plans to release in coming weeks

Re:and where is it? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#36985262)

Sounds like he let people at the conference have it early, and he plans a public release soon.

legal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36984346)

Nice, but is it legal?

Re:legal? (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#36984534)

Nice, but is it legal?

Why would it not be legal?

Is there a law that says "all traffic on the internet has to be what it looks like"?

Re:legal? (2)

Intron (870560) | more than 2 years ago | (#36985112)

Because law enforcement will use vaguely worded laws intended for something else, like "misusing a computer system" or "unauthorized access" against you if they decide you are a bad guy. And they decide you are a bad guy depending on who complains.

Re:legal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36985356)

Holy tin-foil hat batman. Seriously. Bring some evidence to back up your shit-stupid argument or gtfo.

Not what I expected (2)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#36984350)

I thought he had designed something to check for changes in window sizes or dropped ack packets. It sounds like he is doing a side by side comparison of traffic rates with the first router after the ISP being the n00ter. It would be nice to have a link to a project page.

Re:Not what I expected (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 2 years ago | (#36985138)

I think he compares latency and dropped packets based on whether the source IP in the packet is A or B with everything else unchanged. If they're different, then it is not neutral.

Re:Not what I expected (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#36986242)

I guess it is possible; but, I couldn't see an ISP using anything but transparent proxies. They would have to be pretty jenky not to. That and the assumption they are not NAT'ing further up would mean there wouldn't be any type of destination change. L7 packet shaping devices like packeteer are more commonly used. ie. Detect TOS then use leaky bucket or some other algo to determine whether it should drop an ack packet or fake a change in window size request. Shane Alcock's ProtoIdent (libtrace) is pretty nifty for doing the TOS identification really quickly. Still, a link to some code would clear everything up. :)

Re:Not what I expected (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36986312)

Say Google is 50ms slower than Bing. Is this because of the ISP, or the routers and myriad server and path differentials between the ISP and Google, vs. the ISP and Bing? Can't tell, it's all conflated. We have to normalize the connection between the two sites, to measure if the ISP is using policy to alter QoS. Here's how we do this with n00ter.

Start with a VPN, that creates an encrypted link from a Client to a broker/concentrator. An IP at the Broker talks plaintext with Google and Bing, who replies to the Broker. The Broker now encrypts the traffic back to the Client.

Policy can't differentiate Bing traffic from Google traffic, it's all encrypted.

Now, lets change things up -- let's have the Broker push the response traffic from Google and Bing, completely in the open. In fact, lets have it go so far as to spoof traffic from the original sources, making it look like there isn't even a Broker in place. There's just nice clean streams from Google and Bing.

If traffic from the same host, being sent over the same network path, but looking like Google, arrives faster (or slower) than traffic that looks like it came from Bing, then there's policy differentiating Google from Bing.

Now, what if the policy is only applied to full flows, and not half flows? Well, in this case, we have one session that's a straight normal download from Bing. Then we have another, where the entire client->server path is tunneled as before, but the Broker immediately emits the tunneled packets to Bing *spoofing the Client's IP address*. So basically we're now comparing the speed of a full legitimate flow to Bing, with a half flow. If QoS differs -- as it would, if policy is only applied to full flows, then once again the policy is detected.

I call this client->server spoofing mode Roto-N00ter.

There's more tricks, but this is what N00ter's up to in a nutshell. It should work for anything IP based -- if you want to know if XBox360 traffic routes faster than PS3 traffic, this'll tell you.

Re:Not what I expected (1)

mikael (484) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988750)

It's a simple thing to do. Many websites offer lists of "proxy servers" - though some seem to be a bit iffy as they seem to be client-end cable-TV broadband addresses. It's easy enough to write a script to extract the IP addresses and ports though, then you can use 'wget' in conjunction with "http_proxy" to set up the proxy server download request.

There's a cool little web counter link called "Flag Counter" that allows you to see the countries that have visitor your webpage - they show the number of visitors from each country. One bizarre thing I notice was that visits using USA proxy servers would also register visits from China to that page, and that some proxy servers were actually faster than my own ISP ....

And if its the target who is shaping? (1)

paziek (1329929) | more than 2 years ago | (#36984588)

And if its the target who is shaping?
I was playing certain MMORPG and at some times it would start to lag like hell. I would then ask on chat if it happens to someone else and turns out that it does for some, for others not. If I would try other game, then it would be fine. Proof for this is existance of services like http://www.lowerping.com/about-lowerping.php [lowerping.com] with offer you VPN that should actually LOWER your latency. Never really did try that tho.

Re:And if its the target who is shaping? (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 2 years ago | (#36984824)

That's exactly what N00ter tries to find out: Who's throttling my traffic? If the N00ter doesn't find any ISP-dependant variance in speed then the site itself might be to blame.

Re:And if its the target who is shaping? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36986616)

Precisely. Slowness at the source will not create differences in QoS that are correlated with the apparent identity of the traffic.

N00ter is as important for proving *lack* of interference, as interference itself.

Re:And if its the target who is shaping? (1)

moozh84 (919301) | more than 2 years ago | (#36985218)

And if its the target who is shaping? I was playing certain MMORPG and at some times it would start to lag like hell. I would then ask on chat if it happens to someone else and turns out that it does for some, for others not. If I would try other game, then it would be fine. Proof for this is existance of services like http://www.lowerping.com/about-lowerping.php [lowerping.com] with offer you VPN that should actually LOWER your latency. Never really did try that tho.

Don't confuse server lag and capacity limitations with throttling. Lowerping services have nothing to do with throttling. A lowerping service will create an encrypted tunnel between you and a physical location near your destination server, so it gets there faster. Encrypted traffic has a higher priority on the Internet. So the result is that even though you are bouncing off a proxy, you will still get a lower ping. Any server can limit your connection speed or prioritize whatever traffic it wants to in and out. For example a download server prioritizing paid downloads over free downloads. Or a free-to-play MMORPG prioritizing paying subscribers. You also could experience lag due to their servers not being fast enough. This is a private server and is not within the scope of net neutrality. Net neutrality is the neutral traffic management of the gatekeepers to the Internet. It's the roads and intersections, not the endpoints.

Re:And if its the target who is shaping? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36985744)

Lowerping services have nothing to do with throttling. A lowerping service will create an encrypted tunnel between you and a physical location near your destination server, so it gets there faster. Encrypted traffic has a higher priority on the Internet

Aren't these two statements contradictory? If QoS gives a higher priority to https and the pipe is full, the unencrypted traffic will be throttled.

N00ter (1)

IceNinjaNine (2026774) | more than 2 years ago | (#36984728)

Am I the only male here irrationally uncomfortable with the term "N00ter"?

Found a problem right here (2)

Intron (870560) | more than 2 years ago | (#36984810)

has designed that oversight to tough to escape.

I think the ISP must be scrambling the words from this web page.

False readings possible (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#36984834)

Be careful not to misinterpret the readings if you have Comcast. Chances are that you may have the PowerBoost feature they provide.

http://www.dslreports.com/faq/14520 [dslreports.com]

Re:False readings possible (1)

Aqualung812 (959532) | more than 2 years ago | (#36985204)

I tried to turn off PowerBoost to help with setting QoS, they wouldn't let me. That is one of the dumbest "features" I've heard of.

Re:False readings possible (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#36985246)

*shrug* It helps with the pre-buffering of streaming video. For example, Netflix and Youtube. YMMV.

Re:False readings possible (1)

Aqualung812 (959532) | more than 2 years ago | (#36986514)

No, it screws up streaming video that is VBR, like Netflix. Netflix sets the VBR based on the speed it sees at the beginning. Then, once PowerBoost is over, Netflix has to lower the VBR. I would much rather it detect the proper speed of my connection instead of a false higher reading.

The main point, though, is that while you want it on & I want it off, Comcast forces your preference on me.

Wish I Could Have N00tered Comcast (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36986120)

Several years ago, when Comcast bought AT&T broadband, I had business class service at my home (paying a significant premium for the guaranteed bandwidth). All went well initiallly, but soon after stories started appearing about Comcast throttling throughput I started noticing that large downloads of software packages were taking much longer than I had seen before -- usually starting pretty fast and then gradually slowing down. Bandwidth testing sites always showed the full bandwidth, so I wondered whether it was the remote software repositories/network routes that were the issue. Sometime in early to mid 2008 I decided to try the much slower, but nearly 90% less expensive, municipal wireless. I attached one of my systems to the Comcast line and another to the municipal wireless. I timed simultaneous downloads to the same sites and found the wireless was getting throughput several times higher than Comcast. I also made other runs with tcpdump so I could further analyze the differences, but never got around to it. It would have been much easier with N00ter.

OMG! (1)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | more than 2 years ago | (#36986402)

This is what we need! well maybe not this tool specifically but something to get an overview of where ISPs put all that bandwidth they buy.

A couple years ago (in Canada) we faced a bunch of ISPs trying to jack up profits by cutting user speed. They claimed it would provide better service but obviously never described precisely what would improve... pings? Low bandwidth services? Throughput? Cached Transfers? It was never quite clear what "improvement" we'd see if we agreed to start paying per gig. The truth, obviously was no improvement and they were simply cost cutting in one of their smallest expenses, the bandwidth itself. Last mile infrastructure, packet inspection systems, caching of popular sites and videos are all continuing costs. Putting in a wire is expensive.... putting in a bigger wire isn't much more expensive... and there are some very big(High Throughput) quite cheap wires out there. I'm not sure how quickly fiber technology is improving but it's been "good enough" since the early nineties at least, pretending you need to up prices to be competitive is just silly.

I want what I paid for (1)

jweller13 (1148823) | more than 2 years ago | (#36988122)

Do ISPs ever throttle our speed up over what we pay for when bandwidth saturation is low? I pay Time Warner for 10 mbs so I want 10 mbs not 8, or 5 or 3 or whatever. I want what they very loudly promote in their advertisements I will be getting. I don't know if they throttle youtube but they frustratingly slither along at a snails pace.
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