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Comcast Gunning for NAT Users

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the thank-you-please-pay-again dept.

Privacy 979

phillymjs writes: "A co-worker of mine resigned today. His new job at Comcast: Hunting down 'abusers' of the service. More specifically, anyone using NAT to connect more than one computer to their cable modem to get Internet access- whether or not you're running servers or violating any other Acceptable Use Policies. Comcast has an entire department dedicated to eradicating NAT users from their network. We knew this was coming since this Slashdot article from two months ago, but did anyone think they'd already be harassing people that are using nothing more than the bandwidth for which they are paying? It makes me very happy that my DSL kit arrived yesterday, and I'll be cancelling my Comcast cable modem early next week." Earthlink and Comcast have both been advertising lately their single-household, multi-computer services (and additional fees) -- probably amusing to many thousands of broadband-router owners, at least until the cable companies really crack down.

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First Post (-1, Offtopic)

Ironix (165274) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897063)

This is my first 'first post' post ever

Re:First Post (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2897080)

And you made sure that it was a testament to mediocracy, which is, of course, typical, as this is Slashdot, the biggest piece of crap website on the planet.

Let's hear it for Jamie McCarthy and his practice of hypocricy!

Re:First Post (1)

Ironix (165274) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897131)

Well, I suppose I could have prepared, in advance, a rather whitty remark... But instead I chose to blither whatever came to mind. Patience is a virtue I do not posess.

Re:First Post (-1)

Troll4Jesus (552528) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897082)

I dream for the day I can be as cool as you and post first.

Re:First Post (0, Troll)

Ironix (165274) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897168)

It's easy, all you need is a job where you are not supervised and have no real contact with any coworkers. You will soon find yourself coming to /. more often for some mediocre entertainment at the exepnse of some anonymous server's ram and bandwidth.

Re:First Post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2897132)

Damn, I want one.

first you are gay post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2897067)

you are gay

fag

Re:first you are gay post (-1, Troll)

Ironix (165274) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897091)

I am gay. I am a fag. So what of it? Bet I get more booty than you!

Re:first you are gay post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2897171)

This is the best post yet.
Also, use LINUX, dont use MICROSOFT.

Gunning (-1)

Guns n' Roses Troll (207208) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897068)

I'd like to gun down a bunch of minorities. Thank you.

methods (3, Interesting)

po_boy (69692) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897069)

So, what are the methods they use, and how can I make it more difficult for them to tell if I have a machine running NAT?

Re:methods (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2897129)

The usual technique is to look for many connections coming from a specific range of ports.

Dedicated NAT boxes tend to use the entire range, so this doesn't work. ipnat users can specify the range in ipnat.conf, and I'm sure iptables has some way of doing this also.

Re:methods (3, Interesting)

RC514 (546181) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897148)

NAT leaves some traces in the datastream. Especially the high port numbers of a Linux system doing masquerading with the default settings could ring a bell. Other options are operating system fingerprinting. If you see a Linux system using the ip but other traffic carries Windows characteristics, that may be a hint.

Re:methods (5, Insightful)

sakana7 (398444) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897183)

Any thoughts on how packets coming from VMware sessions might be treated?

I'm curious how the packets might look form say 4 virtual machines running on the same host hardware.

Re:methods (2, Informative)

_DMan_ (105238) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897263)

It depends on the configuration of your VM. VMWare allows three types of networking:

- Bridged Networking
- Network Address Translation (NAT)
- Host-Only Networking

All of which have different behaviors. For more details, see the VMWare Networking [vmware.com] page.

Re:methods (5, Informative)

sllort (442574) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897199)

So, what are the methods they use, and how can I make it more difficult for them to tell if I have a machine running NAT?.

I don't know. But let me take a crack at guessing the methods which an ISP would use to detect NAT.
  • O/S Fingerprinting. First and foremost, narrow down your suspect list. Find all the Linux boxes; these will have a higher incidence of NAT because Linux actually packages this feature. Try to develop a fingerprint list for hardware based NAT appliances and any Windows application that can grant NAT ability.
  • TCP Sequence Numbers. Many TCP stacks (cough Windows cough) have a predictable or semi-predictable TCP Sequence Number pattern. Running multiple copies of one of these stacks (say, two 98 boxes) behind a NAT box would allow an intelligent hueristic to detect multiple TCP stacks. Most of NAT happens at the IP layer, so sequence numbers are not rewritten.
  • TCP Source port. NAT-P (it has a couple names) involves correlating inbound TCP packets to the appropriate local host by port, and then rewriting the port field. There is no attempt made to randomize this source port field selection and a clever heuristic could probably fingerprint it.

i've probably dropped a few details here, so feel free to flame me with corrections. that aside, i can see a new open source project brewing: Stealth NAT. A NAT implementation that will rewrite TCP sequence numbers and randomize anything else that would give the impression that multiple machines were in use.

they'll probably start by O/S fingerprinting the NAT enabled hardware gateways you can get at buy.com for $150.

Re:methods (5, Interesting)

mewn (70848) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897213)

One of french cable ISP using this method :

on their webpage that can only be accessed when you'r on their network ( a this webpage providing usefull information like your month quota ), there's a client script that send back your browser IP. That's it : if your ip is typical from a home subnet, you'r using NAT.

ReplayTV 4000 (0, Offtopic)

duplicate-nickname (87112) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897076)

How much will they charge to setup my ReplayTV 4000, eh?

What about that new toaster I bought?

Crack down? (2, Redundant)

I_redwolf (51890) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897079)

How exactly are they going to do this?? I mean NAT isn't really something you can look at it. The same ip is beind used just by different systems behind the NAT server.

Does anyone have any info on exactly how they plan to do this?

Re:Crack down? (1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2897101)

They can see if requests eminating from your network have different MAC addresses attached to the IP they provide to you. If they do, then that's a pretty clear sign of a NAT layer being there.

Re:Crack down? (1)

akeru (15942) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897155)

Um, not really, if you've got a NAT setup, chances are you're going through a gateway of somekind and I can almost guarantee that your gateway isn't going to change the MAC address on the packets it sends out to match that of the originator.

Re:Crack down? (1)

jmu1 (183541) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897159)

So that is why they provide setups with multiple outputs...?

Re:Crack down? (1)

Omega Hacker (6676) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897163)

No, MAC addresses never leave the network segment they're on. They are part of the Ethernet frame header, which is stripped by each and every router, including the NAT box.

Re:Crack down? (1)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897177)

They can see if requests eminating from your network have different MAC addresses attached to the IP they provide to you. If they do, then that's a pretty clear sign of a NAT layer being there.

Except you absolutely cannot route mac addresses.

Re:Crack down? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2897193)

Sure you can. It's called switching. :-) Now, you can't pass it through a layer 3 device without encapsulation which is true...

Re:Crack down? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2897235)

From http://www.computerbits.com/archive/1997/0800/lan9 708.html :
The TCP/IP Packet
To see how the NAT works, we start with the structure of a TCP/IP packet, how a TCP/IP communication is performed between hosts, and the concept of a connection session.

A TCP packet has a header area and a data area. The header has a number of fields in it; the ones that are important here are the source and destination MAC addresses, the source and destination TCP/IP addresses, and the source and destination Port numbers.

When machine A transmits to machine B, the TCP packet contains A's address as the source TCP/IP address, and B's address as the destination TCP/IP address. It also contains a source port number -- generally selected by the sending machine from a pool of port numbers -- and a specific destination port number, such as port 80, which is http services. (Port numbers are listed in /etc/services.)

B gets the packet at port 80 and -- if it decides to open a connection session with A -- selects a reply port number to use as its source port number and replaces port 80 with it. Then machine B reverses source and destination IP numbers and source and destination port numbers in the packet, so that now the B address is the source address, and the A address is the destination address, then transmits the packet back to A. As long as the connection session is open, the packets passed back and forth during the session use the port numbers that each system selected, as well as the source and destination TCP/IP addresses.

With a normal router, the router modifies the source and destination Media Access Control (MAC) address field when it routes a packet through it. The source and destination TCP/IP addresses, port numbers, and sequence numbers are untouched. In this way a packet wends its way through the network from router to router until it reaches its destination.

Re:Crack down? (1)

felicity (870) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897211)

What? Do you have any idea how NAT actually works? The MAC address that the cable folks see will be the same no matter who sends the packet through the NAT box. NAT, from a strictly network sense, is invisible.

What they could do is look at things like headers from HTTP requests. If there are requests from the same cable subscriber using different browsers at the same/near same time ... It's likely to be a NAT setup. (it could also be someone using different browsers to look at pages. I do this with Opera and IE; I use Opera most of the time, but there are a couple of bugs which make me switch to IE for certain sites...)

Re:Crack down? (1)

red_dragon (1761) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897216)

I suppose the users would have to inform the cableco when they change the device, as (assuming the cableco has set things up properly) cannot change the MAC address and expect to get an IP address automagically. Of course, this doesn't apply if PPPoE is being used.

Given that MAC addresses are given out to companies in blocks, one would simply have to scan for those that belong to known broadband routers. What happens with those that use PCs as NAT boxes, though, is a different matter.

Re:Crack down? (2)

mosch (204) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897233)

Great troll. I hope the moderator that modded this up was kidding. The only MAC address the cable modem ever sees is the external gateway of your NAT box.

Re:Crack down? (1, Redundant)

archnerd (450052) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897160)

Here are a few possible giveaways:

1. Accessing several different websites at the time

2. Port forwarding to computers using different operating systems

3. SMTP headers containing references to domain names used only by the LAN

Re:Crack down? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2897209)

BZTTT Wrong. when you visit slashdot you automatically open 3 connections to 3 different websites. 1 for slashdot 1 for the counter and 1 for the ad. many sites will open 10-20 of them and the ones that have webbugs open even more.

Only an idiot would try to detect anything with that today.

Re:Crack down? (1)

JordoCrouse (178999) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897241)

1. Accessing several different websites at the time.

I could easily be communicating with multiple IPs at the same time. Remember that a website is just an IP address.

2. Port forwarding to computers using different operating systems

The TCP packet gets reconstructed and re checksumed when it gets translated, so all outgoing packets will have the same signature as the NAT box.

3. SMTP headers containing references to domain names used only by the LAN

Well, these shouldn't be getting past the firewall, but even then, they can't prove that I'm not an idiot and trying to contact bad names (hey man, I didn't know I had to add a domain name...).

Re:Crack down? -- (2)

Steveftoth (78419) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897164)

Yeah, if they really want to stop bandwidth hogs, why did they not just make the Cable modem also be a bandwidth limiter!!!!!
"No that would be too simple a solution! Besides it would cost the company millions!"

It's not like you can plug your computer into the cable system directly, you have to have a modem.

Re:Crack down? -- (3, Informative)

OctaneZ (73357) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897260)

Yeah, if they really want to stop bandwidth hogs, why did they not just make the Cable modem also be a bandwidth limiter!!!!!

THEY DID!

Many users of cable systems are bandwidth limited, also called "capping," on at least their outbound traffic, and many also have their inbound traffic limited as well. Where I live RoadRunner has outbound speeds limited from 15k to 30k/s outgoing, depending on which loop you are on. Incoming is limited to 250k/s, though this is almost never achieved, even when the packets are originating at a major university, essentially, across the street, with only 4 hops between one box and the other.

Re:Crack down? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2897178)

My question is how can it be defeated? (not for me, but just 'cause I want to learn). I hate Comcast. They didn't have high speed access when I needed it about a year ago, and now that they deployed it, they keep nagging me to switch over.


But I have DSL ! Can use any ports, and have like 5 computers hoooked up to the web thanks to NAT!

And how do they propose to do this? (1, Redundant)

fmaxwell (249001) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897084)

How, pray tell, do they propose to determine whether a user has NAT?

Re:And how do they propose to do this? (2)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897165)

Probably something along these lines:

Customer: Hello?
Rep: Hello, sir, I'm doing a study for Comcast, and we'd like to offer you 2 free months of service if you would participate in a quick survey about your internet usage at home, so that we may better serve you in the future?
Customer: (Trying to figure out how far 2x$39.95 will go at the Golf Shop) Uh, sure, whatever.
Rep: Great! Question 1: Do you have more than one computer in your house connected to a cable modem?

Or better yet, kill service to a block of houses, and wait for the support calls to roll in. Yes sir, we'll have a technician come right out sir. He may need to have full access to your computer or computer(s), sir.

Re:And how do they propose to do this? (-1, Informative)

Xzzy (111297) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897185)

MAC address. The mac address remains the same inside the packet regardless of what the IP's are. If they notice multiple mac addresses coming from your direction, indications are pretty strong you're using nat.

Gonna be expensive on their routers, but it's probably trivial to implement some kind of alarm system that tracks bandwidth usage, and flags people for later inspection by a flesh and blood.

Don't think you can just rewrite packets to mask the mac address, since I believe the nat gateway uses the address to map packets back to the real destination host.

Re:And how do they propose to do this? (1)

Jack Hughes (5351) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897250)

What rubbish!

Go and get a basic book on TCP/IP. And read it.

Where in the IP packet is the MAC address?

When you've got the basics of "encapsulation" and mastered routing. Then go and find out about NAT.

How on earth does a post like this get a score of "2"....

Re:And how do they propose to do this? (5, Informative)

jandrese (485) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897252)

You know, that might actually work...if the MAC address were stored in the IP packet.

Sheesh, I've seen MAC filtering mentioned 5 times already on this article. Maybe everyone should take a look at The anatomy of an IP packet [abdn.ac.uk] .

Adelphia (4, Informative)

mknapp905 (527716) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897085)

Adelphia has it as part of their service agreement that you can have multiple devices on the network and the cable modem install techs will actually configure your linksys router for you when you sign up for the service.

How? (2, Redundant)

Brandon T. (167891) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897086)

How would they go about doing this, being that NAT makes all data coming in and out look as if it was coming from a single IP? They could try to look at bandwidth, but you could easily make the case that you were just downloading a lot from one pc. What practical techniques can be used to detect NAT, and what can be done to avoid them?

Brandon Tallent

Re:How? (1)

leviramsey (248057) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897151)

How would they go about doing this, being that NAT makes all data coming in and out look as if it was coming from a single IP?

Since NAT works by using assorted port numbers, they could look for lots of traffic bound to strange ports at their routers. Since I only have the vaguest of ideas wrt NAT, I could be wrong, though.

Multiple Users on a Single Computer are Next! (5, Funny)

the_radix (454343) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897090)

"We regret to inform you, Mr. Anderson, that you have three different people in your household using this computer to access the internet. Your bill will be adjusted accordingly."

I don't like fags. (-1)

CmderTaco (533794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897092)

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Slashdot Got Trolled (5, Insightful)

mosch (204) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897100)

Okay everybody, let's all get upset, and write 450 comments saying how evil Comcast is, on the basis of an unverified, unverifiable claim, with no technical details.

This is not a story, let's not treat it as one. It'll be a story when somebody has copies of a letter explaining that their service was cut off, due to the use of NAT. In the meantime, I can tell you that the firewall on my comcast connection has received no new exploratory packets originating at comcast servers.

Verification of their Policy is in the Comcast FAQ (5, Interesting)

dave_aiello (9791) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897238)

I don't know how Comcast plans to hunt down residential users who implement NAT on their own. But, the Comcast On-Line FAQ contains their policy on the use of multiple computers [comcastonline.com] , including pricing, and how they want to arrange the service.

You'll find more about my experience with Comcast broadband services [ctdata.com] on my company's web site, if you are interested.

*BSD is dying (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2897102)

So why now? Why did *BSD fail? Once you get past the fact that *BSD is fragmented between a myriad of incompatible kernels, there is the historical record of failure and of failed operating systems. *BSD experienced moderate success about 15 years ago in academic circles. Since then it has been in steady decline. We all know *BSD keeps losing market share but why? Is it the problematic personalities of many of the key players? Or is it larger than their troubled personalities?

The record is clear on one thing: no operating system has ever come back from the grave. Efforts to resuscitate *BSD are one step away from spiritualists wishing to communicate with the dead. As the situation grows more desperate for the adherents of this doomed OS, the sorrow takes hold. An unremitting gloom hangs like a death shround over a once hopeful *BSD community. The hope is gone; a mournful nostalgia has settled in. Now is the end time for *BSD.

Thank god for Videotron (1)

Archie Steel (539670) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897103)

Fortunately, my Cable provider here in Montreal allows NAT private networks. However, they don't allow servers on common ports (21, 80, etc.) but you can run them off higher ports if you like. Frankly, me and my girl both pay for Internet Access, it's only fair that we should be able to use it on both of our computers!

Wow. (2)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897107)

I had assumed that though like this was basically on the way out. Most ISPs will say "We support one computer. If you wanna rig something else up to use more, don't expect us to support it". That's sort of fair, mostly.

This is creepy. I'd personally sue them.

How? (2, Redundant)

Score0, Overrated (550447) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897114)

How do you even detect NAT?

There's this [securityspace.com] which describes a way to find webservers behind NAT, but what about the general case?

Contains realism - please mod down (4, Informative)

micromoog (206608) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897116)

If you don't like their single-user policy, DON'T AGREE TO IT. They have the right to structure their services just about any way they like, and to enforce that structure.

If you don't like it, don't sign up. If you try to cheat on the policy with your l33tness and get caught, don't complain.

Re:Contains realism - please mod down (2, Insightful)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897204)

Actually they do not. Telco and cable plants operate as a natural monopoly, supported, regulated, and historically funded by the local municipal authority. The right to freely set your terms of service ends when you use the government to back your business.

More complicated (3, Insightful)

benwb (96829) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897225)

Do you feel the same way about Microsoft? Most cable providers in the US enjoy a monopoly. Comcast may be the only option for broadband access for a large number of people who aren't close enough to their exchange to get dsl. One could argue that broadband is a "perk", and doesn't deserve protection but I don't agree.

As a side note, hooking up a cable/dsl router doesn't really qualify as l33tness in my book.

Re:Contains realism - please mod down (1)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897254)

Fine, but for a lot of people there are no other broadband solutions.

Re:Contains realism - please mod down (1)

Atzanteol (99067) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897262)

Oh please. This sort of passivist attitude get's the world nowhere. Where I am, this cable is the only broadband available. You're tellling me to suck it up? We have the right (duty?) to bitch/complain/whine/etc. about anything we want in this country. I don't want to go back to a modem, and with no other choices you can bet your ass I'll complain.

Also, Since I signed up with MediaOne two years ago the license agreement has changed (by my count) 4 times. This is enough to be mad about.

Wink wank (1, Informative)

VAXGeek (3443) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897119)

Don't forget kids: those snazzy Linksys routers you bought will fall under this stipulation too! It's not just the retards with Linux boxes getting nailed, it's EVERYONE with any form of link duplication. Basically, if you have 2 boxes and pay for 1 to be connected THEY WANT YOUR ASS.

The basic nature of NAT makes this impossible (1, Redundant)

tweakt (325224) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897125)

The whole point of NAT is to obscure and hide the internals of the network, the outside only sees ONE computer. The only possible thing they can look for are signatures (like all connections coming from a source port in the 60,000's range -- Linux defaults to this for ipchains IIRC), but these are adjustable of course, and in no way are proof of NAT being used.

How can they tell? (1, Redundant)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897127)

I'd really like to know since all the traffic comes from one MAC address. True, you'd need a properly configured firewall, but you should be able to make any linux system look like a windows one (hint: disable ports or use reject policy in your iptables) It seems to me NAT is impossible to detect.

Can anyone with more 411 clarify?

Thanks

Can they do this. (2, Informative)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897130)

Seriously, when I signed up the agreement was that I would not provide service to anyone outside my residence, which is fair I guess. If they want to crack down on me doing something that is proper let them try, but I'm not going to back down from asserting my rights. Personally I don't see what options that have to crack down. Though I have heard that their switches remember your mac address now so if you change the computer/network card hooked up it takes a reset to get it working again :(

this is a lame post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2897134)

a really lame post..

i hate the itnernet

How about a big middle one? (0)

oberther (94566) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897138)

They can take me to court if they want i'm not doing a damn thing wrong. I pay for my 1.5Mb and i'll use it on my laptop, desktop, or palmtop all at the same time if I want.

It's obnoxious (1)

EggMan2000 (308859) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897140)

I can see a point in FOPing users that abuse the bandwidth or something, but just going after people for having more than one pc attached is ridiculous.

Do you remember wen it was "illegal" to plug in a splitter box on your cable so you could watch cable in the bedroom too? What is it with these guys. As if $30 in addition to my $50 a month cable bill was not enough.

If they want to be ubiquotous they should merge with an ISP or something. - Oh wait, n/m

Just how will they know? (0, Redundant)

mojotooth (53330) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897143)

And exactly how are they going to detect this evil traffic? By monitoring the origination ports of the network traffic? Presumably they're going to look at the port numbers and go "hm, that number's different from the one a few minutes ago. Must be a NAT!"

If that's the case, then I encourage any Comcast customer who uses a single computer, who has the know-how, to write a script that generates arbitrary originating port numbers on all the traffic. That would rule.

Re:Just how will they know? (2)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897222)

If that's the case, then I encourage any Comcast customer who uses a single computer, who has the know-how, to write a script that generates arbitrary originating port numbers on all the traffic. That would rule.

Arn't outgoing port numbers pretty much arbitrary as it is?

Detecting this (2)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897144)

The only way I can think of for them to detect NAT is if they see simultaneous activity on too many ports at once, indicating more than one person at the same time is using the Internet.

Obviously, the more people you have on the line, the more likely this is to occur.

Seems kind of silly to spend a lot of resources on this. I can kind of understand maybe charging people more for using more bandwidth than average.

The Turd Report 01/24/2002 (-1)

The Turd Report (527733) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897147)

I sucessfully blocked the memory of what I ate at the company cafeteria yesterday. Oh, wait, i had a chicked sandwich. (Time to up the meds, I guess.) My morning turd was long (about 12 inches) and ov average diameter. It was a generic brown color with some greenish tint to it. It had a distinct dirt smell to it. That was odd. Clean-up was a breeze. I rate this turd as a 7.

Firewall (4, Informative)

killmenow (184444) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897149)

Look, I have my Road Runner connected to a firewall that routes my internal machine to it. Therefore I have more than one machine (technically) hooked up to Road Runner.

The firewall uses NAT for my internal box. My firewall is a custom Linux box I setup myself, but I imagine any firewall would behave similarly.

If they're basically saying you have to have just the one machine directly connected to their service...they're saying YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO RUN A FIREWALL.

How can they possibly suggest that I'm NOT ALLOWED to run a firewall? Especially seeing as how the freaking cable networks some of the worst offenders on portscans etc...

Freaking morons.

Re:Firewall (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2897224)

Exactly. When Comcast can guarantee that no one will hack into my single computer connection, then I will agree not to use a firewall. Until then I need security, as I get about 5-10 probes per day against my firewall.

Re:Firewall (2)

Nelson (1275) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897230)

I've seen a TOS from Sprint that essentially required you to run a firewall. Personally, I think anyone who can afford the hardware and isn't running a firewall is nuts.


What are they going to do about all those cool $200 hub/switch/firewall/router boxes Linksys and company are making?

I wish... (2)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897150)

That these telcos and such were able to come correct and just advertise the services the actually offer and bill for them in a reasonable and deterministic way. An honest DSL provider would not sell you a 384->1500Kbps line and then bitch about you having more than one machine. The honest provider would sell you a service with a 384 kbps base rate for $x/month and $y/megabyte transfered above your base rate up to your burst limit at 1500kbps. For people who want their bill to be the same all the time, they would sell flat rate services at different speeds.

This is never going to happen of course, because this sort of service provision implies not only limits on the customer but also performance requirements on the part of the telco. I think we are stuck with "52 times faster than an ordinary modem" marketing and bad service forever.

Silly (4, Insightful)

Zo0ok (209803) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897152)

What about setting up a linux machine and connect X-terminals to it, thus providing multiple users with internet access, but they are on the same machine. Or a windows terminal server. Or ssh in and run applications that are forwarded over X. Or port forwarding.

And, windows 98/ME does this automatically if you have a windows LAN with one computer connected to the internet, doesnt it?

Huh?

Anybody know the toolset being used? (1)

Medievalist (16032) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897162)

/.
I know it's a good idea to completely block the Comcast management subnet addresses (look at your firewall and see who is hitting NNTP every hour - that's them.
BUT: there are tools available that can partially see through many firewalls - for example nmap can gather some info through freesco (not enough to do any harm, but enough to positively ID the system).
Does anyone know what tools and techniques Comcast will be using, or what addresses they will source from?
I'm not looking for speculation - why help them out after all - just any hard info anyone might happen to have.
Thanx!
--Charlie

Meanwhile... (3, Interesting)

Mendax Veritas (100454) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897172)

...my DSL provider, PacBell Internet, actually wants to sell you a NAT router when you sign up for basic home DSL service.

DMCA again... Can we discuss this? (1)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897179)

Can someone publish a step by step how-to on how to masquerade a masq box? Is that a circumvention device?

They won't be able to find mine... (1)

OneFix (18661) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897182)

The only way they have of telling if there's another system on your network is to send a request to an internal address (RoadRunner tends to check for 192.168.1.100)...the easiest way to fix this is to simply firewall the netbios port...

I actually just use IPTables to keep anyone on my external port (eth0) from accessing any internal addresses directly. It sounds like the only ones they'll catch is the ones with the out-of-box routers and ppl who don't know better :)

they can try they wont win. (2, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897184)

They can catch the scumbags that get the cablemodem and then nat their entire apartment building, or the neighborhood but they will never catch a single family dwelling doing it. the ONLY way to detect it is to watch bandwidth and look for 60-70 connections coming out of that cablemodem. anything less will be false positives as just hitting some websites causes at least 10 connections to other servers for ad's popups, etc...

Besides, how is this going to fly with the AT&T policy of allowing it and even encouraging it? AT&T will gladly sell you a smc or linksys NAT/firewall... that constitutes encouraging it.

Just use my excuse to ATTBI... (2)

Blackwulf (34848) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897188)

I told the guy I was using a router. He freaked. "OMG OMG HOW MANY COMPUTERS DO YOU HAVE?" he asked.

"Just one. I just trust hardware firewalls more than software ones. I don't want to get infected with a worm that would then lower ATTBI's bandwidth."

He then let me go on my way.

Now, this article is a case of "i know a friend of a friend who's doing this dispicable act!!!" so I'm not taking it to heart. And as for me, only my Linux box is on 24/7...My Windows box is a seperate box that's only up if I want to play EverQuest. :) So, if they had a way to scan my system, there's only one machine up.

Is there a term for "vaporware" jobs?

How they can tell (2)

Phroggy (441) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897189)

If you're using a commercial broadband router (Linksys, Netgear, DLink, etc.) they may have a way that they can probe IPs for that specific type of device. It might have a web page on port 80, or something else open that identifies it as being a router. They wouldn't be able to identify a Linux box doing IP Masquerading, but they'd find all the Linksys routers easily, and since those are quite popular, they'd figure that was good enough.

Another consideration: How does the NAT box know where to send incoming replies? Isn't there something added to the IP header to indicate the internal source IP of the packet? I would think there would have to be. Could they scan packets for these identifying signatures?

A problem with this: some people use NAT routers as a firewall, with only a single computer connected, simply for security reasons. It's certainly more secure (and less problematic, from what I understand) than ZoneAlarm or BlackIce. How is the ISP going to know the difference?

If they're scanning IP packets, are they looking for multiple internal sources from the same external IP?

Let the free market decide (1)

Sowbug (16204) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897194)

Let's face it. If the terms of service say you can't connect multiple computers to the cable modem service, then you can't do it (legally, at least). If you don't like it, don't sign up.

Unfortunately, many people won't follow that rule (they won't like it but they WILL sign up). They'll pay the $3/computer or whatever, and Comcast will get their way.

It's our job as technophiles to EDUCATE friends and family about alternatives (mainly DSL with an acceptable TOS policy, and then a basic home gateway with NAT). Here in the San Francisco Bay Area we have _so_ many options (cable, analog modem, or any of dozens of DSL providers), but most people just go with whoever mails them the most colorful flyer.

If we help teach others that they have choices, then they will make the right decision. The free market will work. Comcast and similar companies will realize that they're losing revenue, and they'll adjust their pricing models (as well as stop using inflammatory terms like "stealing bandwidth").

How they might do this (1)

jquirke (473496) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897195)

Here in Melbourne, Australia some of our "broadband" providers have similar policies, so I've always wondered how they might look at addressing NAT.

Although NAT masks all computers behind the firewall with it's external IP address, by examining the traffic, there are clues.

For example, let's say there are multiple instant messengers (eg ICQ, MSN) behind your firewall. If there are at least 2 of the same type, it generally means there are multiple users. Of course this isn't necessarily true though, if you have a *NIX computer this is easily done, or even Windows XP.

Let's say your firewall is a Linux/FreeBSD/whatever box. Nmapping or similar _may_ reveal this, and _may_ also determine its uptime. A long uptime is often an indicator of a firewall, since most people don't turn them off. Of course, lot's of people don't turn their PCs off either.

In general sniffing traffic might provide some clues as to what is going on at your end of the service.

These are just a few ideas, however none of them offer real proof of NAT, just some indicators. I'm sure there are legal implications (eg privacy) both in the US and in Australia on examining your network traffic.

--jquirke

Kudos to AT&T (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2897196)

I have to congratulate AT&T. I was in the mediaone (originally Highway1) beta in 1996. As they changed to RoadRunner and AT&T, customer service has definitely gone downhill. There are much longer waits on the phone, and there is greater difficulty in reaching knowledgeable support people.

Furthermore, outages are still too common, and performance is still too variable.

However, the basic service is good, and the attitude of AT&T (at least in Eastern MA) is still good. They tolerated NAT, looking the other way, and then (I think) supported it; they don't block ports; and they don't particularly seem to mind members who run servers, as long as those servers are reasonably secure; even though the service agreement disallows servers (last time I checked).

I read about dimwits like Comcast frequently on Slashdot, and I'm thankful that my provider is still reasonable.

Other companies doing this yet? (1)

Orangedog_on_crack (544931) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897197)

AFIK my cable provider (Time-Warner, Columbus Ohio) isn't doing this yet. If they do I'll be quickly dropping the internet access along with their cable TV service (currently about $83/month) and will sign up for Ameritech/SBC DSL and will probably get a dish unless SBC is running a deal for cable TV. VOTE WITH YOUR WALLETS! If Comcast people have another option they should go with it.

I wonder what they plan to do? (4, Interesting)

jandrese (485) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897198)

This is interesting. I guess they're going to go after people running those custom firewall/NAT boxes. Now all these people will just have to plug their windows machine directly into the net.

As everybody else is wondering: how do they plan to ferret out NAT users? Go to everyone's home and count the number of computers? ComCast used to be such a nice service, it's a shame what they're doing to it. Lets count the ways they've made the service worse recently:
  1. No VPNs. If you want to use a VPN you have to get a special "business" plan. Good luck finding anything about this plan on their website.
  2. Upload/Download caps: We used to have wonderful bandwidth, and our local loop isn't even heavily taxed. Now we have an artifical bandwidth cap that does not appear to help us OR our neighbors.
  3. No Newsserver. The usenet is a valuble resource, every ISP worth it's salt has usenet access. Comcast customrs (the ones that got switched over) do not.
  4. Now this anti-NAT policy. I wondier if you will be able to find anything at all about this "I have a NAT" service on their website...


Still, even with all of these indiscresions, I'm inclined not to believe this story as is. There doesn't appear to be much actual evidence (has anyone been flagged for having a NAT yet?) to support the claims. Also, did the co-worker quit because the job is nigh-impossible? My hoax sense is tingling...

It's about money (1)

kenneth_martens (320269) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897200)

Comcast doesn't really care one way or the other about you using NAT to connect multiple computers. They are just simply trying to do what so many other broadband companies have failed to do: stay in business and make a profit. They have seen what has happened to several other large broadband companies that have gone under, and they realized that they have to make a profit now!

Charging people a little extra to connect multiple computers can bring in a little more money to keep the company afloat. And tracking down violators will--hopefully--result in those people agreeing to pay the extra amount. Comcast is not trying to alienate customers, they are trying to keep customers happy by staying in business

Re:It's about money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2897245)

It IS about money, and if they do sh!t like this they _will_ alienate their customers, and they will go the way of the dodo

They Wont Win In Court, Anyway (2)

Ieshan (409693) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897203)

I can't see Comcast winning in court anyway. It'll become readily apparent that bandwith is alotted on a per-modem basis and not on a per-computer, so the usage of bandwith over a number of machines does nothing to impose more strain on their network. In this sense, there's no way they could win in court, how would they justify cutting service to people who were using it within acceptable use? Either one computer can be hogging bandwith, or two can be sharing it... seems to make sense to me.

Furthermore, it seems like a forgotten waste of time for Comcast to try to pick up everyone who's using two computers (or more) over their service. They might pick up small businesses, or something, simply by paying attention to the fact that their bandwith is in use most of the time. One computer is more likely to have "down time" than two.

ok, how? (1)

TheDarkRogue (245521) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897206)

And how Exactly are they going to find us? I Don't think there is any NAT search tool type thing, is there? I did read the Article about the Cat and the NAT and such, and to my understanding you have to use their hardware for the CAT idea to work. So how was this person supose to find "Abusers"? Quietly break into their house and check the other end of the cable modem?

In-home network (1)

captaint (231558) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897207)

Since the switch from @Home to Comcast, Comcast hasn't even been supporting their multiple IP services, event though they're still charging for it, so many customers have been forced to create their own routing networks.

Dear timothy (1, Insightful)

Marcos the Jackle (7778) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897212)

I'm assuming you can verify this? You can verify that this is ligitimate, can't you? Hello? timothy? Hello?...

Once again slashdolt is the shining star disinformation and ignorance. You should all be buggered.

I only have one computer connected to modem (1)

imuffin (196159) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897214)

I only have one computer connected to my cable modem. It's an old NT box. It happens to have two nics in it, though, and it serves the rest of the house. But I do in fact only have one computer connected to the cable modem. What I do with my own internal network is my business!

About 80 Freaks behind Klerck (-1)

CmderTaco (533794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897215)

About 40 behind JonKatz!!!
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Bell's Sympatico DSL (3, Informative)

nomis80 (181676) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897217)

The bandwidth sucks.
The latency sucks.
The support sucks.
They encourage NAT and show you how to do it in their manual.

Thank you Bell!

What's the point? (1)

dachshund (300733) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897231)

I'm not exactly sure what ISPs hope to gain from this policy. There are very few people who really want to pay for multiple Dynamic addresses (my Cable modem provider charges $5 a pop.) I can't imagine that there's a ton of money to be made here.

The ISPs aren't losing anything; if users are sucking up too much bandwidth, limit them. A lot of NAT users aren't major bandwidth hogs, anyway. They're just people with a simple gateway (for instance, an Apple Airport) who happen to have a couple of computers in the house. Oftentimes, they're using the thing primarily as a firewall. I suppose there may be a handful of business customers abusing the privilege, but those people aren't likely to turn around and buy "business" versions of your Cable modem service. They're just as likely to get DSL (and maybe their employees will too.)

It strikes me that this is just an extension of the "rent a cable box for every room in the house" Cable strategy, only one that's less likely to bring in revenue.

Linksys (1)

ruvreve (216004) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897236)

The easiest way to catch a large portion of NAT users is to just scan for a web interface. I have limited experience with the Linksys Router sold at Best Buy etc...but I think the web interface remains 'enabled'. This would catch all the 'inexperienced' NAT users which is probably who this policy is targeted at anyways. It is sort of like security policies at most companies. They take the precautions necessary to keep the low-level crackers/kiddies out.

Comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2897242)

Some comments:

They don't have to send out any exploratory packets to gleen evidence of multi-pc usage. Overlapping traffic with browser headers indicating Linux, Mac, and Windows would raise a flag (not proof, but strong evidence). That's just a simple example, lots of other services could be sampled as well.

These turkeys are coming from a cable mindset (one cable = one TV) which is absurd for data connectivity. This situation is much more like the power company (as many appliances/plugs as you want - just pay for the power) or the phone company (lots 'o' phones - you can even have several people on the same call at the same time).

Vote with your wallet and dump them.

Ruining the day for the customers. (2)

Dog and Pony (521538) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897248)

On a somewhat related topic: One of Sweden's bigger and first broadband companies, Bredbandsbolaget [bredbandsbolaget.se] (translates to "the broadband company") are scanning all their traffic for pirated software, music and movies. The funny thing is that they are offering 10Mb in both directions, when most around here only offer 0.5 - 2.5Mb, and that is incoming traffic only... so you can guess which connection all warez dudez are running if they have the possibility...

One of my friends have been heavily into trading stuff since he had a 33.6 and a P100 machine - and was the coolest kid in town with that. Now he has shut down his ftp server and probably sits at home shaking from withdrawal. Thankfully, I never was much into warez, I have a few mp3's on my conscience, but that is pretty much about it. And I have another provider, if the urge should set in. :)

I think this is something we will see more of in the future, although so far I don't think any of the other companies have followed.

Scanning for warez may be more in line though, considering the terms of use, but on what level should the companies control what we do with the access? Forbidding several computers on one connection just to charge more money is just plain cheap, although many do already have clauses about not allowing servers on your home connection.

Gunning for NAT users? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2897257)

I'd like to gun down the evil censoring Slashdot editors! [slashdot.org]

How to find NAT (1)

drodver (410899) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897258)

You have to sniff the packets going to their IP. If you see traffic coming from www.yahoo.com:80 and going to the IP at a high numbered port then they are most likely using NAT.

IP using non public machines (1)

joe630 (164135) | more than 12 years ago | (#2897259)

Some people (like me) have NAT running at their homes. I have 3 boxes running. I file server, an MP3 appliance (audiotron) and my desktop machine.

All three are behind a NAT deivce/Firewall.

Two of them RARELY connect to anything outside of my local network.

Is comacast gonna charge me for 3 computers?

Let's find out how quickly I shut off my cable. (Hi, directv!)
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