To Control Every Switch

I once read that true power on the Internet is to control every switch, but one need not worry about the plugs. I believe I now understand that statement becuase yesterday my server shut down due to an upgrade which seemed to conflict with the firewall settings that I was using, and then I lost my connection to the net altogether. Sure, the firewall did its job, and prevented something that could have been huge security problem for me, but this was not the case as I found out later on. Further digging pointed to how my home server was creating subnet mask for its peripherals on my Local Area Network (LAN). This issue was coming from my Internet Service Provider (ISP), and it took me an afternoon to figure that out after some forty-five minutes on the phone with them. Here is what happened.

PUll The Switch Man - May 29 2014 - Weblog ImageI created this graphic using Blender 2.70.

My ISP has a rule about how many computers are connected to each residential modem, and as in most cases, the maximum is two units connected hard wired, but you can trick the hardware by using a Virtual Personal Network (VPN) from within your router–but ask before you start building your own router first. I have permission, and pay extra for my connection from my ISP to run multiple connections from my server.

My troubles started when I was testing out some software for my friend’s security home automation system, and I was trying to remote into it from my place. In order to access his devices remotely, I need to issue each I.P. Address on each device before I can use it. I use a network mapper that scanned his LAN, then I started making the tweaks to call up each device in a specific order. It was at this point that I started getting network failures. My ISP seemed to have flagged my multiple attempts at invoking my remote access to another network and (I assume) they thought I was connecting to hundreds of LAN connections from within my address. They (my ISP) shut down my Internet connection citing suspicious activities and unusually high volumes of data being sent from my IP Address to hundreds of other “phantom” IP addresses.

I did manage to work around the problem, through encrypting my network connection to my friend’s network, but the lesson here is I do not have 100 percent control of the “switch” when it comes to my personal access to the Internet at home (my residential connection). The end result is: encrypt, encrypt and encrypt. I do not blame my ISP for their ridged polices, and I understand that my activities were way out of the scope for the average home owner, so I am not at all upset at them for what they did. But, it does make me think about just how much control we have when we go online.

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