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Wireless Networking Cellphones Handhelds Networking Verizon

Verizon Cracks Down On Jailbreak Tethering 286

Posted by timothy
from the nickels-and-dimes-and-dollars-oh-my dept.
tekgoblin writes "Verizon, like AT&T has now started blocking jailbroken phones from using un-sanctioned tethering apps. Verizon will now require users to be subscribed to a mobile tethering plan to be able to use tethering at all." So which mobile company's actually any good for 3G tethering, voice service aside? My Virgin Mobile MiFi (bought under a plan no longer available) is theoretically unlimited and "only" $40/month, but has had too much downtime for my taste, and atrocious customer service.
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Verizon Cracks Down On Jailbreak Tethering

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  • How do they tell? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jsnipy (913480) on Monday August 08, 2011 @09:51PM (#37029280) Journal
    How do they even tell tethered traffic from non?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Highly illegal deep packet inspection. :) It breaks a ton of privacy laws put in place by the Fed AND local governments.

      • by Verteiron (224042)

        Highly illegal deep packet inspection. :) It breaks a ton of privacy laws put in place by the Fed AND local governments.

        Actually there is no federal or state law on the book that restricts the use of DPI by service providers. Using DPI to route traffic DOES place at risk their "Safe harbor" status under the DMCA. Unfortunately, since ISPs are now agreeing to be the private police force for copyright holders that no longer matters.

    • by geekboybt (866398)

      I'd imagine that traffic from a desktop/laptop is far different from that of a mobile phone. For starters, significant amounts of HTTP traffic with a user agent from Windows/Mac/Linux would be a tipoff. Not saying it's foolproof or the only way, for sure, but that would be one easy way to narrow down the list.

    • They may be looking at browser tags and anything that doesn't come standard on an un-jailbroken cell phone would be considered an unauthorized tether. But that's just a guess. And, of course, it can easily be spoofed.

      • You can change user-agents on browsers available in the Apple app store. They even provide an official API for doing it.

      • by todrules (882424)
        But there's more than just browsers. I think playing World of Warcraft might give it away.
    • Assuming they are doing it by packet inspection: Just run a strongly encrypted VPN to your home server, and use that internet connection. All Verizon will see is VPN traffic, which is legal.
    • by sirsnork (530512)

      Phone based traffic is sent via their WAP gateway where as tethered traffic isn't, at least that's what someone said in a previous article on the subject. If thats true then all they need to do is monitor all non WAP traffic and compare where it's coming from against the people paying for tethering.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Phone based traffic is sent via their WAP gateway where as tethered traffic isn't, at least that's what someone said in a previous article on the subject. If thats true then all they need to do is monitor all non WAP traffic and compare where it's coming from against the people paying for tethering.

        This is not true. WAP was for phones before they had browsers that could read full HTML. The WAP server acted as a proxy and converted the HTML down to a subset that the phones could handle. This stopping being true with the advent of modern smartphones that can do standard HTML.

        While I can't say for sure, as they could be doing something I'm not aware of, my guess is it's just simple DPI which means the previous posters suggestion of using your tether to make a VPN tunnel back to your home router/server sh

    • by Calos (2281322)

      Aside from browser ID strings - which as others mentioned are easily spoofed - traffic patterns are probably just as identifiable. If I were to tether from my computer, it's not just browser traffic they would see. My mail client would be reaching out checking for updates, Dropbox would keep checking for changes and syncing, as would Evernote... This is probably especially true for Windows users: antivirus traffic, Windows update traffic... Youtube videos could be loaded that otherwise wouldn't on a mobile

    • Re:How do they tell? (Score:5, Informative)

      by tlhIngan (30335) <.slashdot. .at. .worf.net.> on Monday August 08, 2011 @11:58PM (#37029886)

      How do they even tell tethered traffic from non?

      Easy.

      First, a little background.

      A cellphone data connection goes through a gateway. It's not a traditional TCP/IP link, but it sure looks like one from the mobile side. What happens is the TCP/IP packets are encapsulated by the modem, forwarded to the base station, and the base station determines which gateway to use.

      In GSM, the gateway is chosen by the APN you enter (or your phone automatically uses). CDMA is different, but it effectively looks up the gateway for you.

      The gateway does things depending on the plan you buy. Consider the entirety of data plans available - unlimited "social networking" for feature phones, unlimited data for blackberries, gigs and gigs for smartphones, 1-2GB for laptop, each of which is increasing in price. The reason for this is service differentiation. The lowest and cheapest plan probably uses well defined proxy servers that only forward to specific hosts. The blackberry plans go to specific blackberry networks. The smartphone plans often have stuff like transparent proxying (caching plus stuff like recompression), firewalling (HTTP/HTTPS/SMTP/POP/IMAP only is typical), NAT (multiple layers).

      Laptop data plans (MiFi's and the like) often stick you behind a simple NAT, but are otherwise free from other firewalling. And if you pony up $$$, you can often get VPN plans that give you a real life IP address and no firewalling.

      Guess what? These firewalls also note what traffic isn't making it thorugh. Various ping probes, odd port traffic, stuff like that gets logged. Use a Windows machine and it's easy from traffic that no smartphone will ever generate.

      Those who use their phone as a modem (PC does TCP/IP) are the first to trigger the alerts, those who use SSH-SOCKS (phone does TCP/IP) are harder to tell (all packets originate from phone, traffic not using proxy isn't seen), in which case they have to see if connections are made to odd ports and the like (e.g., if you try to ssh to a host).

      Other techniques are a bit of packet identification and link utilization - you can easily tell a smartphone from a PC just by the way the browsers create network traffic, for example (especially with smartphone plan transparent proxies)

      You think carriers are stupid for selling 2GB laptop plans when you can get 5GB smartphone plans for half the price?

      • Those who use their phone as a modem (PC does TCP/IP) are the first to trigger the alerts, those who use SSH-SOCKS (phone does TCP/IP) are harder to tell (all packets originate from phone, traffic not using proxy isn't seen), in which case they have to see if connections are made to odd ports and the like (e.g., if you try to ssh to a host).

        My phone can ssh to places (Cyanogenmod 7). There are also apps in the Android and Apple app stores that ssh too. How do they tell that vs. a tethered computer using ssh?

      • by kiwix (1810960)

        Man, I'm glad I live in a country where I can have an unlimited data plan for 19 EUR, with a public IP adress (not a fixed address, though), mostly no filtering, and I can use any damn phone I want with any OS I want. Granted, the country is small (Luxembourg) so the cost of operating the network is kinda lower, but still...

        Anyway, I'm not sure how they could tell the difference between my smartphone and my PC: my smartphone is a N900, which runs a Linux TCP/IP stack, and mostly the same programs as a deskt

    • Re:How do they tell? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Tuxedo Jack (648130) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @12:32AM (#37029978) Homepage

      It depends on the device you're using.

      In Android and Windows Mobile 6.5/6.1/5, your NAI (network access identifier) changes based upon the type of traffic you're pushing. Tethered traffic and DUN changes your NAI to yournumber@dun.vzw3g.com. Traffic from the phone itself is simply yournumber@vzw3g.com.

      Verizon has poisoned EVERY phone with Gingerbread - they have modified the OS so that activating any hotspot app, even if the phone is rooted, to trigger the NAI change and show the phrase "Tethering or Hotspot Active." The only SAFE way to tether on a Verizon phone is to run Froyo, then use free-wifi-tether's 3.x version. Alternatively, install CyanogenMod and then you can tether.

      For iOS? Hell, you're screwed any way you turn.

      • by gatzke (2977)

        Even apps from outside the market? PDAnet is not from the market and I have not seen a message about tethering. They also have a "stealth mode" to hide your usage, but I bet you can't hide the traffic pattern a laptop generates.

        Would Tether + VPN on the laptop work?

        Maybe I need to check and see if Verizon will let me turn on and off tethering easily. If so, I don't mind paying a little for that feature, but I doubt they make it easy or cheap.

      • Well it helps that most of Verizon's phones are still stuck on 2.2, since they like to take their time approving firmware updates.
      • by Rich0 (548339)

        I'd love to see Cyanogenmod have better VPN support, whether I use tether or not.

        Right now you can connect to a VPN, but only traffic for hosts on the VPN is transferred over the VPN.

        I'd like an arrangement where 100% of all my phone's traffic (controlled at the OS level) is sent through the VPN. My home broadband can easily handle the data a phone will generate, and I'm not concerned with a little extra latency with what I do.

        There is an openvpn setting that is supposed to do something like this, but it a

    • by PortHaven (242123) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @07:30AM (#37031408) Homepage

      Simple, you successfully load and play Flash on an iPhone. They know you're tethered. LOL

  • by twilightzero (244291) <mrolfs AT gmail DOT com> on Monday August 08, 2011 @09:54PM (#37029290) Homepage Journal

    My HTC Evo comes with a wi-fi hotspot app built in that allows I believe 4 clients. It may not be the fastest but it works.

    • by XanC (644172)

      Does that work without the $30/month account extra? Since it can be turned on and off without re-upping the contract, and it's billed on a daily basis, I do find it useful on the odd occasion I know I'm going to need it.

      • by Yosho (135835)

        The app that Sprint bundles with their phones does require the $30/month extra. However, if you root your phone, you can install a third-party application (such as Wireless Tether) and use it without paying the fee. As far as I can tell, Sprint doesn't cap bandwidth and does not block devices; just last weekend I tethered a tablet to my Evo Shift 4G and was using it constantly.

        • Quite true. I had a rooted Evo 4G for a year and tether on my Evo 3D all the time with no consequences.
  • and put it in my Nexus S to tether - so I guess it isn't a jailbroken device, right?
    • by Vegeta99 (219501)

      You didn't do that on a Verizon phone.

      • by rvw (755107)

        and put it in my Nexus S to tether - so I guess it isn't a jailbroken device, right?

        You didn't do that on a Verizon phone.

        Why would anyone buy a Nexus S phone from a phone carrier? That would be plain stupid, as the one big advantage of having a Nexus phone (getting the latest updates from Google) is gone when a phone carrier like Verizon puts its own tweaked version of Android on the phone.

        • He's not saying that it's a Nexus S from Verizon (the Nexus S isn't available from Verizon, incidentally), he's pointing out that Verizon phones don't have SIM cards.
  • Their speeds aren't the best, but they don't restrict usage at all. I can tether my (rooted) 4G android phone for free with no data caps or throttling (as far as I can tell), and on occasion I've used nearly ten gigs over a WiMAX connection while on vacation without any issue. I've rarely needed customer service as downtime and issues in general are virtually nonexistent, but it's there when needed and is pretty good.

    As for price, though, the smaller/contractless providers like Virgin Mobile may be your bes

  • Telstra offers quite reliable 3G service, and for $30 on prepaid you get about 400 minutes (depending on call lengths) plus 400 megs, $40 gets you ~1000 minutes and 800 megs, or $60 gets you 2000 minutes and 3GB.

    No restrictions on device, tether all you want.

  • In MA, the IBEW and CWA declared a strike against Verizon starting yesterday (Sunday). So, Verizon has very little trained staff on right now, and they want to do things to make their phones seem like they're broken to the end-user. This will turn out well....

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      In MA, the IBEW and CWA declared a strike against Verizon starting yesterday (Sunday). So, Verizon has very little trained staff on right now, and they want to do things to make their phones seem like they're broken to the end-user. This will turn out well....

      I have this idea that union members are never the brains behind any operation.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by Antisyzygy (1495469)
      Uhh, no. Verizon wants to do this to double dip into your wallet. They are greedy, and have no government oversight. Government oversight occurred on landlines to prevent things like this, and now for some reason Congress sees a major difference between the way land lines should be regulated, and the way wireless lines should be regulated even though they both are pretty much the same thing and serve similar purposes. Its all a big crock to make as few of people as much money as possible.
  • What about the new FCC law the says any app and any network?

  • 1. After clicking through a few links I found the original story:

    http://www.mobiledia.com/news/101731.html [mobiledia.com]

    2. Mine still works. The only source I found is some guy who says he got the landing page you get when you use Verizon's app. Anyone actually get this warning using any of the non Verizon apps?

  • by zogre (1080899)
    I have Sprint, they've never given me a problem about tethering. As far as I can tell, there's no data cap on my unlimited plan (2 Epic 4G phones, $150 /mo unlimited everything family with the 4G premium, both phones are rooted and running Froyo 2.6.32.9).

    My wife is a heavy media consumer with Pandora and Netflix. Occasionally my AT&T home internet goes out, and I stay online for work and play by using Wired Tether ( http://android-wired-tether.googlecode.com/ [googlecode.com]) because my desktop doesn't have 802.11.
  • Sky High Promises
    High Rates
    Bad Service
    Lousy Support
    and the power to get away with it.

    Nothing new there, even before smartphones the complaints were the same.

  • What difference does it make whether you natively use the phone to get on the net or use another device to connect to the phone to get on the net? the same source of data is still the phone regardless.
    • by tooyoung (853621)

      What difference does it make whether you natively use the phone to get on the net or use another device to connect to the phone to get on the net? the same source of data is still the phone regardless.

      You are aware they charge for text messaging...

    • by artor3 (1344997)

      Desktops are more convenient to use, and so people end up using much more data on them. If all you use the tether for is browsing, then they shouldn't care. But if you're streaming an entire TV season on Netflix and downloading games on Steam, you're going to use up a lot of bandwidth. They want to dissuade people from doing that.

      The good way to do it would be with a flat price per GB, with a discount during off-peak hours. But they can make more money with the current tiered service plans, so that's wh

      • They want to dissuade people from doing that.

        thats none of their business. If we have 2 GB of data allowed then how we get that data shouldn't matter. As someone else said, if we watch netflix the faster we get to the limit and the chance of paying overage fees are feasible. Don't understand why they wouldnt want to go that route.

  • I suppose it makes their lousy network actually look as bad as it really is, but why else should they care? Didn't they do away with unlimited plans? If you're paying for the data, why should they give a damn how you are actually using it... unless of course, they CAN'T actually supply the data and bandwidth they are advertising. It's like selling lollipops but saying that you can't give one to your friend. If you run out of lollipops and want to buy more, ISN'T THAT THE WHOLE POINT??

  • My WinMo6.1 phone does it out of the box. It's built into the OS
    • by mjwx (966435)

      My WinMo6.1 phone does it out of the box. It's built into the OS

      So do most Android phones. The tethering API has been included since 2.2 and HTC Sense has had it built in since 2.1.

      If you're getting bent over by your phone company it's not your handsets fault (unless your handset was built for that purpose, which makes them an accessory).

    • by artor3 (1344997)

      Androids do tethering out of the box too. But some carriers charge extra for tethered data. By rooting the phone, you can hide the fact that you're using it as a tether and thereby avoid the extra charges. That's what Verizon is cracking down on.

      • by hedwards (940851)

        Indeed, and the question is why it is that they're allowed to charge customers more depending upon what it is that they choose to do with the bandwidth. It's one thing to charge more for business accounts that need to be up constantly, but to charge more for the same service is just plain wrong.

  • by Solandri (704621)
    Either you get rid of unlimited accounts and charge by the GB, in which case it shouldn't matter to you whether those GBs are from the phone or tethered. Or you restrict tethering because people on unlimited accounts are using too much bandwidth while tethered. Charging for tethering while at the same time charging per GB is trying to have your cake and eat it too.

    The FTC should step in and make it illegal to advertise bandwidth as "x GB" if the carrier puts restrictions on exactly what is and isn't allo
    • by webdog314 (960286)

      Actually, it might be more apt to say they want to have their cake... and my cake... and eat them both.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Umm... They have gotten rid of unlimited. They now throttle you if you are a "data hog" on the grandfathered unlimited and new users can't get unlimited at all.
      So now they limit and charge for tethering.

      • by Rich0 (548339)

        Yup, even T-Mobile has new "unlimited" plans that throttle at some level. The only difference between those plans and the grandfathered ones is that the new ones tell you what the threshold is. They always throttled you to 2G if you used too much bandwidth...

    • by Rich0 (548339)

      I think it is the cable company mentality. Back in the 80s cable companies were all upset that some of their consumers would buy one cable box, and then split the coax to their TV and run it to a second TV. This of course was a serious inconvenience since you'd have to change rooms to change channels, but cable company executives probably spent a small fortune in meeting time trying to figure out ways to prevent it. I'm surprised they didn't lobby for the right to inspect homes at random, and the contrac

  • They use the term "jailbreak" and the Forbes article [forbes.com] refers to an app named MyWi that is available via Cydia. This terminology leads me to believe they are specifically targeting jailbroken iPhone tethering. Android phones like the Droid X and X2 tether "out of the box" (unrooted) with apps from Google's marketplace. No jailbreaking/rooting/evil hax0ring required.
    • The iPhone, like most modern phones, can tether "out of the box" just fine. It's the phone companies that stop it. In fact the iPhone hotspots out of the box, which is a hell of a lot better than tethering. People who have not used an iPhone for any extended period of time should be banned from speaking about them.

  • by trailerparkcassanova (469342) on Monday August 08, 2011 @11:30PM (#37029768)

    Not the ATT-supplied E71x. I can tether using my Medianet account with this phone. Also a RAZR v3xx makes a very good tethering device. Both work very well and it was my only net access for a few months.

  • ...is just making Sprint look better and better really. Unless the guy at the Sprint store was lying to me, they don't care if you tether, they don't seem to care if you root, and they still have unlimited data (though apparently you need to root and such to avoid throttling at some point).

    • by hedwards (940851)

      To be honest, Sprint has problems, but poor reception was never a problem I had with them. Incompetent customer service yes, inability to use whatever phone I like, yes, but I never had reception problems the way that I now do with AT&T.

      • by Red_Chaos1 (95148)

        Oh I'm sure they've got weaknesses, everyone has them, but in this sense, they're turning out to be the least dick-ish of companies. I used to hate Sprint back when I sold phones 10 years ago (I started out with my service being Airtouch, before they conglomerated into Verizon). They had lousy reception, the phones sucked, and they paid lower bonuses for selling phones and signing people up for service.

        By comparison, they've really turned stuff around it seems.

  • Punishing customers, limiting services, lies in advertising... and we in the US continue to tolerate it. I don't and I won't but I am not large enough in numbers to make any difference. I just have to wonder what is wrong with the majority of people who are too lazy to vote with their dollars and to shop around for what's best. Damned sheeple.

  • Although there are a lot of crazy people that want to watch Hulu and stream HD radio over their wireless network all day every day, I think most people are reasonable.

    Firstly, text messages should be free and unlimited. It is time to do this. They cost the carriers basically nothing. In Japan, text messages cost close to nothing and voice plans cost money. This makes sense. Voice is orders of magnitude more bandwidth-hogging than a tweet.

    Next, data plans needn't be unlimited, but make a reasonable data cap

    • And another thing that all companies nowadays -- not just telcos -- seem to have forgotten is the art of dealing with customers. Maybe you see us as walking bags of money. Fine, that's great. But it's no reason to treat us poorly. Treat the walking bags of money like shit, and they will do everything they can to exploit loopholes, bend rules, and steal. Treat the walking bags of money nicely and they will turn into loyal walking bags of money. It's not rocket science.

  • Flatrates are stupid things. They should be forbidden. They are just a formulation for: "We will make absurd prices for metered plans so that we can scare everybody into using an oversized flatrate plan and if somebody really exceeds our usage expectations using some means, then we block (or slow down) the type of service he uses". Its maximally intransparent.

    The only solution would be to only allow metered and unfiltered rates, because then the customers would have an easy time comparing the offers and it

  • I am a t-mobile prepaid customer, with one of their LG Android Optimus-T handsets, which I got for $130 refurb.
    I can get legal tethering from them by setting up the phone as a mobile hotspot for $1.50 a day. If
    you use it every day, it is quite expensive, but if you just use it a few days a month for travel or
    whatever, it is great. They give you 30 MB of very high speed (I think I have seen 1 MB/sec peaks),
    and unlimited 2G for the rest of the day. If you are just checking email, or doing bandwidth-restric

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