Net oddity

Something queer is afoot and it’s making me nervous.
[This is a geeky post – you have been warned]
Unfortunately, for legal reasons, it can’t be discussed frankly, or in great depth in public, but hopefully you’ll get the idea.

There exist private, free to use, on-line services owned, run, and patronised by enthusiasts. They’re not pornographic or unsavoury in any way, but there are some who consider it illegal. These people are wrong, but they have friends in high places.

Recently one of these services has started to receive reports from its patrons claiming that it was broken. For the owners of the service, everything seemed to work fine, but a large enough subsection of their clients have been complaining, and they’ve started to take it seriously. The initial analysis revealed it to be a “routing problem” rather than anything to do with their software.

As you can probably guess, I’m one of the afflicted. Today I joined the IRC chat and left shortly afterwards. It’s difficult to explain why, and I’m not going to bother trying. But one good thing did happen: another irritated user contacted me privately and we shared our collective information. He or she (who knows or cares) had already been though the same exploratory processes I had intended to pursue, and had discovered a workaround. I tried his/her trick and it worked! We got chatting and established the cause of the problem and then speculated as to who were responsible. In doing so, we became aware that we were both on the same wavelength, and swapped a few subtle hints as to how we could be contacted in the future. Then, after a bunch of bitching about the admins of the “on-line service” we were trying to use, we went off to continue our research.

Here are the end-of-day results:

  1. This is not a “routing issue” or a problem with a network, it’s deliberate.
  2. The on-line service is being targeted by either an ISP, or a law enforcement agency that has power over ISPs.
  3. It’s not a DDOS attack – some fool even suggested that “4-chan were responsible”…
  4. The site realised that they were being nobbled by an ISP and so switched a bunch of IP addresses as “a workaround”; obviously they weren’t concerned enough to wonder about the identity of the agency responsible. I would be!
  5. Me and my new colleague managed to work out a better way to avoid the issues, but decided to keep schtum about it – the little powermongers who run the service are quite incapable of accepting suggestions from underlings.

Get crypting people.

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