Archive for Sandvine

Canadian Tech Company Fingered In Helping To Suppress Free & Open Access To The Internet In Syria, Egypt & Turkey

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 9, 2018 by itnerd

Do you live in Syria, Egypt or Turkey, or some part of the world where the Internet isn’t a free and open as it should be. If so, you might want to read this story from the CBC that details research from Citizen Lab that shows that using gear sourced from a Canadian company called Sandvine is being used to redirect Internet users in those countries towards spyware and malware, but also keep an eye on the activities of those Internet users and block their access to sites that the countries in question don’t want anyone to see:

Since last fall, Turkish internet users attempting to download one of a handful of popular apps may have been the unwitting targets of a wide-reaching computer surveillance campaign.

And in Egypt, users across the country have, seemingly at random, had their browsing activity mysteriously redirected to online money-making schemes.

Internet filtering equipment sold by technology company Sandvine — founded in Waterloo, Ont. — is believed to have played a significant part in both.

That’s according to new research from the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, which has examined misuse of similar equipment from other companies in the past. The researchers say it’s likely that Sandvine devices are not only being used to block the websites of news, political and human rights organizations, but are also surreptitiously redirecting users toward spyware and unwanted ads.

Using network-filtering devices to sneak spyware onto targets’ computers “has long been the stuff of legends” according to the report — a practice previously documented in leaked NSA documents and spyware company brochures, the researchers say, but never before publicly observed.

“When you have this middlebox which is capable of filtering and modifying people’s internet traffic, pretty much the sky’s the limit in terms of what you can do,” said Bill Marczak, one of the authors of the report.

As a Canadian citizen, I have to admit that I am disturbed that Canadian tech (that’s owned by an American company) is being used this way. But at the same time I am not surprised as Sandvine has been used by Comcast to throttle Internet traffic and they’ve tried to argue in front of the CRTC that this is a good thing. Thus it is entirely plausible that their gear is being used for this purpose because from a technical standpoint, it’s not a great leap. Now interestingly Sandvine has disputed the report and threatened to sue those behind it. Which suggests to me that perhaps they got caught with their hand in the cookie jar so to speak. Hopefully the Canadian and/or US Government is watching this and asks Sandvine some really tough questions as to who it sells its gear to and if they are aware what it is being used for.

Sandvine Tells CRTC That Deep Packet Inspection Is Needed…. WTF?

Posted in Commentary with tags , on May 1, 2009 by itnerd

Sandvine who is best known for selling the gear that Comcast used to throttle their customers connections to the Internet, has decided to file a document with the CRTC that insists that deep packet inspection is needed [Warning: PDF]:

As described above, Sandvine submits that the use of DPI-based congestion management solutions do not create a privacy concern in that they do not inspect content for the purposes of traffic classification, nor is any such information stored within such solutions. Despite this fact, certain respondents claim that somehow the mere presence of DPI-based technology itself raises privacy issues, and have called for an outright ban on any such technology. Imagine if this approach were applied to other technologies, such as those supporting cameras. Single Lens Reflex (SLR) technology underlies cameras that take photos at family birthday parties. The same technology has been applied for surveillance of individuals and public spaces. One use of the technology raises privacy issues, the other does not. Nobody questions the value or validity of the camera technology. So why question DPI technology? Privacy concerns properly attach to applications or uses of technologies, not to the technologies themselves.

They’re comparing deep packet inspection to cameras? Talk about comparing apples and oranges. The fact is that while I am not a lawyer, there are any number of laws governing where, when, and how you can take pictures. No such laws exist about how you can use deep packet inspection. So this technology can be used for any reason right now. For example if an ISP owned by a telco doesn’t want Skype competing against their telephone service, Skype could be knocked down a peg or two so that people on that ISP wouldn’t want to use it. As a result, the telco picks up a few more phone customers. Is that a good thing? For the ISP maybe, but not for you the consumer. That’s why there has to be rules for this sort of technology. Or better yet this technology should be outlawed. After all, your local telephone provider doesn’t restrict how you can use your phone as long as what you’re doing isn’t illegal and you pay your bill. Why should your ISP be any different?

Here’s the bottom line, Sandvine is filing this because they have a self interest in making sure that ISPs continue to buy their gear. If DPI were outlawed, they would be screwed (or at least be wounded as a corporation). Hopefully, the CRTC sees through their bullshit spin and does the right thing which is to ignore this document.

Sandvine Stock Tanks – Comcast To Blame?

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on March 7, 2008 by itnerd

Sandvine Corporation, whose traffic shaping hardware is responsible for the packet shaping non-sense that the FCC is investigating Comcast over, tanked yesterday to a new low of $1.55 on the Toronto Stock exchange. That’s a drop of 42%. There’s a bunch of factors at work here:

  • The company warned yesterday that sales for its first quarter ended Feb. 29 will be about $8.2-million, plummeting 88% from a year earlier.
  • Full fiscal year revenue for Sandvine will be between $80-million and $85-million, down from the range of $100-million to $110-million estimated in December. That means annual growth of just 15%, compared with 132% a year earlier.
  • The FCC is looking at Comcast in terms of it violating its net-neutrality rules. Comcast is rumored to be Sandvine’s largest customer.

All of these will send investors heading to the exits.

Is this a long term thing? I doubt it. Just for giggles, lets say that a Democrat gets elected as President of the USA and the congress and senate fall into Democratic hands. There’s ZERO chance that the you will see any legislation that bans the use of this gear if that happens. Nor will a Republican president do anything similar. The problem is not the gear. It’s how it’s being used. But I do think that some ISP’s are going to think twice about buying and deploying this gear just because of the bad press that it generates (just ask Comcast). Perhaps some of them already have. Take a look at their press release section. Very few press releases have any names of companies that buy their gear. Not to mention that they’ve posted a document on net-neutrality that puts an interesting spin on the subject.

This one is worth watching.