Getting Around Blocks By Playing Packet Hide And Seek

from the getting-silly dept

A month ago, new wireless ISP Clearwire made some news for blocking all VoIP applications other than the one they offered themselves — which goes against the concept of network neutrality. Of course, the problem with this is that it forgets that voice is just data, and you can disguise data in all sorts of ways. It appears that’s exactly what Vonage (one of the blocked VoIP providers) is doing. They’ve worked with the customers blocked by Clearwire to use a different port, thereby bypassing the block. Of course, Clearwire will probably end up blocking the new port at some point as well, but there will be another port open, or Vonage will use some other method to disguise the data. If you’re going to offer bandwidth to people, you’re going to need to figure out a way to handle the capacity question or you’re going to be in trouble. Simply blocking usage and saying it’s a capacity issue isn’t going to be acceptable to users who believe that capacity is the ISP’s problem — not their own.

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Comments on “Getting Around Blocks By Playing Packet Hide And Seek”

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TJ says:

Randomize it

With so many ISPs apparently trying such blocking, VoIP companies ought to offer a totally random port approach. Handshake over port 80, then pick random high source and destination ports. That would make it hard for the ISP to port block. Unless the traffic is also encrypted, the ISP could sniff every packet to block VoIP, but at least make them go to that more difficult and expensive effort. If the traffic were encrypted, there would be no reasonable way to block it unless they limited customers to only identifiable, ‘acceptable’ traffic. That would be as deadly for a broadband ISP as bandwidth caps.
From what I’ve read, Skype already uses some of these techniques.

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