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Wireless Networking Communications Google Network Software The Internet Hardware Technology

Google Home and Chromecast Could Be Overloading Your Home Wi-Fi (theverge.com) 129

Google Cast products could be to blame for your wonky internet connection. According to TP-Link, "The Cast feature normally sends packets of information at regular intervals to keep a live connection with products like Google Home," reports The Verge. "However, if the device is awakened from a 'sleep' mode, it will sometimes send a burst of information at once, which can overwhelm a router. The longer a Cast device has been in 'sleep' mode, the more information it might send at once." The engineer says that could exceed over 100,000 packets, an amount that "may eventually cause some of [the] router's primary features to shut down -- including wireless connectivity."

TP-Link has reportedly fixed the issue in its C1200 router, but a broader fix from Google's end has not been found.
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Google Home and Chromecast Could Be Overloading Your Home Wi-Fi

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  • Always recording? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2018 @08:16PM (#55942649)
    A Google Home is just a smart mic that responds to a keyword. What is it storing in "sleep" mode that it needs to spit back to Google when it wakes up? Is it recording at all times and spewing compressed audio back to the mothership?
    • by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2018 @08:28PM (#55942755) Homepage Journal
      It is sending whatever the Google programmers want it to. Your conversations. Your data. Whatever they decide. And they can update it at any time to change whatever they want it to send to them. And you paid $99.
      • Well, I didn't. If someone gave me one for free, I'd be sure to return it, at high velocity.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Exactly what you said. Furthermore, it does not even need to record in audio format. Just the written words and metadata is even better.

        I would really love to be a marketer at Google with this powerful tool at my disposal. It is an incredible situation.

      • by 404 Clue Not Found ( 763556 ) * on Tuesday January 16, 2018 @09:29PM (#55943095)

        Bullshit.

        I only paid $79 on sale.

      • It is sending whatever the Google programmers want it to. Your conversations. Your data. Whatever they decide. And they can update it at any time to change whatever they want it to send to them. And you paid $99.

        Not me! I bought it on sale for only $79!

      • by Anonymous Coward

        It is sending whatever the Google programmers want it to. Your conversations...

        If I ever live in a place with one of them it's going to be recording so many farts.

    • Re:Always recording? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Xenx ( 2211586 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2018 @08:34PM (#55942803)
      From TP-Link's statement on the C1200 update, it looks like it's MDNS multicast discovery packets.
      • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2018 @08:43PM (#55942839)
        So, unless their router does mcast routing (nope, it doesn't), they should just be dropping those. And if the switch part of it can't reliably flood multicast packets, they should simply give up and quit the business.
        • by Xenx ( 2211586 )
          Given that other major players are also affected by the issue, I doubt that "inept" is the answer here. Things are generally designed they way they are for price and performance. It likely hasn't been a realistic concern until now.
          • Given that other major players are also affected by the issue, I doubt that "inept" is the answer here. Things are generally designed they way they are for price and performance. It likely hasn't been a realistic concern until now.

            You would be surprised. Employee retention is a major problem in the corporate world today. Its a problem a lot of CEOs and HR departments don't take seriously at all. People leave and never conduct a knowledge transfer and then new people are hired and the boss just assumes that they know everything the last person did. Granted, they might know the RFC for something exists but not how or if it was actually implemented.

    • nope, google home, and chromecast use multicastDNS like apple bojour to locate devices on the same access point.

      a quiet side effect is chromecasts, don't work well in multi wireless access point networks. (ie a computer connecting to you AP can't reach devices connected to another AP)

      the issue is some update is basically spamming mdns requests across all nodes which is causeing network congestion.

      some routers are going so far as to limit udp trafffic from google products to prevent network congestion issue

      • by LiENUS ( 207736 )

        nope, google home, and chromecast use multicastDNS like apple bojour to locate devices on the same access point.

        Nope, as long as they're on the same layer 2 network they communicate fine.

        a quiet side effect is chromecasts, don't work well in multi wireless access point networks. (ie a computer connecting to you AP can't reach devices connected to another AP)

        What? I have 4 access points and it doesn't matter which one I'm on I can connect to the chromecasts fine, I even have multiple ssids (to manage bandwidth restrictions for guests), Doesn't matter which AP or SSID, all chromecasts work.

    • Is it recording at all times and spewing compressed audio back to the mothership?

      Of course it is. Why would anyone believe anything else?

      • by gnick ( 1211984 )

        Is it recording at all times and spewing compressed audio back to the mothership?

        Of course it is. Why would anyone believe anything else?

        Lack of evidence beyond paranoid speculation? I'm all for jumping on the Google-hate wagon, but I really doubt they're doing this. It's of questionable benefit and the consequences of getting caught would be pretty major.

        • Lack of evidence beyond paranoid speculation?

          Remember when they said the same thing about Carnivore?

          • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

            Carnivore did exactly what they said it was supposed to do.

            • You are ignoring the fact that they denied Carnivore's existence for years, just like they denied that the NSA existed, just like they denied the Snowden allegations, just like... do I really need to go on?
              • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

                I was unaware that the NSA are the ones selling Google Home. I thought that was a Google product.

        • What were the consequences of violating copyright en masse by scanning every single book they could get their hands on and reproducing them online?
          What were the consequences of illegally collecting location information of users?
          What were the consequences of "accidentally" mapping out the location of every WiFi AP without consent?

          I dare you to name one negative consequence Google has faced and balance that consequence against the action itself and its benefits to Google.
          Feel free to do the same for Amazon, F

    • Re:Always recording? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by rwven ( 663186 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2018 @11:28PM (#55943563)

      This is pretty much why I just dumped my Echo. The fact that I literally have no idea what it's transmitting at any given time makes me nervous. I love the idea of a voice driven assistant, but I also don't love the idea that MS/Amazon/Google could know anything I say to anyone.... I work from home and discussing sensitive business information within earshot of an always-on microphone makes me twitch.

      • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Wednesday January 17, 2018 @02:42AM (#55944131)

        This is pretty much why I just dumped my Echo. The fact that I literally have no idea what it's transmitting at any given time makes me nervous. I love the idea of a voice driven assistant, but I also don't love the idea that MS/Amazon/Google could know anything I say to anyone.... I work from home and discussing sensitive business information within earshot of an always-on microphone makes me twitch.

        Did you ditch your cell phone too? You're more likely to have it infected by malware and recording your conversations than to have Amazon or Google decide to break their promise that their devices only listen after the wake word.

      • You're aware that it only sends over the voice commands it gets after it hears it's "Alexa" activation keyword, right? People have confirmed this by connecting packet sniffers to their network and monitoring that it sends over. Same deal with Google Home.

        Sure, this will probably get hacked (and patched) at some point, but I think that people like you are being overly paranoid. Unless you work for a three letter spy agency, you don't have much to worry about .

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        If only there was some way you could inspect the packets to see what data was being transmitted.

    • Re:Always recording? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gl4ss ( 559668 ) on Wednesday January 17, 2018 @12:09AM (#55943703) Homepage Journal

      there's a timer on sending some packets.

      send every x seconds.

      when it's in sleep, it sends it for whatever it missed when sleeping. probably same data, I suppose.

      a not that uncommon glitch.

      it just proves google doesn't give a fuck about quality anymore than others.

  • Not the first time they confuse "what you technically could do" with "what you actually should do"
  • The headline should read "Google Home and Chromecast Could Be Overloading" the horribly implemented network stack of you routers software. Do yourself a favor and get a router supported by dd-wrt/open-wrt/tomatoe or even better one that already uses one of those already
    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      You can still get a very shitty router. I noticed MANY routers are simply underpowered. They have 3 antenna's, a 1.2GHz chip, some shitty software and a power supply of 500mA, replace that with a 1A and given the system doesn't overheat, it won't "crash" or power cycle anymore. Also, crack open the case and put a decent power sink on the chips.

      I have gotten some mixed results from Asus, I've actually melted the plastic off a Netgear home router by attempting to use its gigabit ports, the Linksys is a big st

    • The fault is from both sides. The router for not managing the traffic it is receiving, and the device for causing a completely unexpected Denial of Service attack using a protocol in a way that no sane device should.

      The problem is far more the Google devices than the router. It is unreasonable to expect a perfectly functioning network from any router during an internal DoS attack.

    • I tried dd-wrt on a cheap TPlink access point. It had nice features but the throughput was terrible compared to the stock firmware.

  • TP-Link? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by msauve ( 701917 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2018 @08:22PM (#55942695)
    "that could exceed over 100,000 packets,"

    Maximum sized packets are normally 1500 or less because that's the standard Enet MTU. So, TP-Link "routers" can crap out when you send 200 MB through them? Time to buy a competitor's product.
    • Re:TP-Link? (Score:5, Informative)

      by MatthiasF ( 1853064 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2018 @09:12PM (#55943005)

      There's more to throughput than simply bandwidth.

      For instance, most enterprise grade routers are rated for packets per second (PPS).

      A cheap enterprise-grade 4-5 port router with a 2-core 500Mhz processor will most likely be rated around 1 million PPS while a 4-core at 1Ghz will be able to handle over 3 million PPS.

      For comparison, the latest version of the of the TP-Link Archer C1200 mentioned in the article has only a 1-core processor running at 900Ghz processor which I assume would be rated around 800,000 PPS.

      So, if one model of home device alone puts out 100,000 packets suddenly and there are more than one of the device in the house (Google Home in 2-3 rooms, Chrome Cast on 2-3 TVs), it all adds up pretty quickly on top of normal use in the background.

      • by msauve ( 701917 )
        This issue is these cheap "routers." Here's more detail [gizmodo.com].

        First, the issue 'taint got nuttin' to do with routing. The Google devices are sending lots of mcast traffic which affects WiFi. That's strictly a WiFi AP/bridging function. Second, although it may clog WiFi for a while, there's no excuse for an AP to crash because of it.

        Third, people need to stop calling these things routers. That's like saying Dr. Dre is a Doctor. They don't route multicast, they don't do routing protocols. Most won't even route be
        • I haven't used a router that couldn't route in ages, and I meant off the shelf consumer stuff for $100ish. They all had the ability to do some poor level of routing.

          As for the cheap enterprise thing, I'd assume that's more marketing related, as companies are using it to describe products that can do more routing beyond the off the shelf buffalo (example, ubiquiti has plenty of cheap, four port, routers that they call enterprise, you can argue that they're not, but it was pretty obvious to me what the poster

          • by msauve ( 701917 )
            Feel free to download the user manual for the TP-Link C1200 mentioned, and point out where one can configure actual routing (not NATted) between multiple subnets. It does support static routes, but not interfaces on multiple networks, AFAICT.
            • by AvitarX ( 172628 )

              Well I guess you're right.

              In my defense I moved to the $150 "enterprise" stuff a while ago.

              My cheapish Bufalo definitely could.

        • Thanks for sharing the Gizmodo link. Wish I could up-mod.

      • by guruevi ( 827432 )

        100,000 packets bursting on a WiFi over a few seconds does not get close to the 1M PPS most routers should be able to push these days (you got to figure in that WiFi is for most of these systems a half-duplex broadcast).

    • Re:TP-Link? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by TheDarkMaster ( 1292526 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2018 @09:38PM (#55943135)
      Funny, you do not think the problem may be actually in fact Chromecast clogging the router with requests when he should not be doing this? I've been seeing similar behavior in Google Chrome, it insists on creating an avalanche of UDP connections to mDNS that easily knocks down any home router not expecting such abuse.
      • Re:TP-Link? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by msauve ( 701917 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2018 @10:21PM (#55943321)
        Whether or not the Google device's behavior is technically correct/allowed (it is) or polite/proper/necessary (it isn't), a network device should not crash because of it.
        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          This happens periodically. Back when BitTorrent was new it could crash some routers, particularly Linksys and Netgear as I recall, but also my ISP supplied cable modem. The problem was the number of connections it opened rapidly. Those old devices didn't have much RAM and didn't purge old connections very fast, so unless you set BitTorrent to a maximum of say 1 new connection per second it would quickly crash them.

          Consumer hardware is mostly cheap crap. I started buying routers designed for the Japanese mar

    • So it's basically; while(true) { send_packet(); next_packet += interval; sleep(next_packet - now()); }

      eg, when the CPU wakes up, try to send all the packets you missed?

    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      200MB? You mean 200Mb/s.

      Gigabit Ethernet handles:
      1,000,000,000 b/s / (84 B * 8 b/B) == 1,488,096 f/s (maximum rate)
      1,000,000,000 b/s / (1,538 B * 8 b/B) == 81,274 f/s (minimum rate)

      If they crap out at 100,000 packets your router is indeed shitty, that's what 100Mb/s networks peak out at.

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        If they crap out at 100,000 packets your router is indeed shitty, that's what 100Mb/s networks peak out at.

        Most routers are software routed. If you're lucky, they run some form of Linux to do the firewalling, NAT, bridging (to WiFi), and everything else those routers are tasked to do (media serving, etc).

        Modern enterprise routers do hardware routing and try to avoid process packet switching as much as possible because it's trivial to overload the main CPU this way.

        So you have a relatively wimpy processor th

        • by guruevi ( 827432 )

          Most cheapo home routers do not run Linux, I've never seen a Linux-based router crap out completely even if it's running low on RAM.

      • by msauve ( 701917 )
        You're confused, and are the only one who brought up the time domain.
    • Re:TP-Link? (Score:4, Informative)

      by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Wednesday January 17, 2018 @08:51AM (#55945013)

      So, TP-Link "routers" can crap out when you send 200 MB through them?

      No. TP-Link routers can crap out when you send 200MB multicasting at a very short interval, something that no client is expected to do.

      Time to buy a competitor's product.

      Whose? D-Link, and ASUS both have come out and said they are affected. This problem is affecting my father's top of the line D-Link modem/router too. It also apparently affects Google's WiFi as well as Apple's Airport.

      There's more to data than just how much is going through.

  • by aberglas ( 991072 ) on Tuesday January 16, 2018 @08:54PM (#55942907)

    I have an slowish ADSL line. At regular intervals various Daemons on various computes wake up and decide to download gigabytes of junk. Microsoft update is the worst offender, but there are many others. They all do so at maximum speed, killing the internet access.

    So on my Gargoyle router, I throttle all the download addresses that these services use. But they daemons are smart. They keep finding new servers to download from. I currently have about 50 /24 sites throttled, but more appear every week or so.

    Dropbox and Google Drive can be throttled locally nothing else seems to have that ability unless one gets into heavy group policy configs or jailbreak Apples.

    • by complete loony ( 663508 ) <{Jeremy.Lakeman} {at} {gmail.com}> on Tuesday January 16, 2018 @09:11PM (#55943003)

      It's not the download speed that's the problem, it's that most servers pushing data to you are using a TCP protocol that actively tries to keep the bottleneck network buffer full. If all those servers swapped to BBR, which actively tries to keep that buffer empty, the problem would probably disappear.

      At home I get about 4mbit through my ADSL connection. With 4 windows machines downloading OS and game updates, the internet was essentially unusable. So I now run my own DNS and redirect windows & steam download domains to an nginx proxy. That way I can use the rate limiting features of my crappy modem to throttle all traffic going to the proxy's IP.

    • by pjt33 ( 739471 )

      Microsoft update is the worst offender, but there are many others. ... They keep finding new servers to download from.

      Microsoft uses P2P for large updates: have you explicitly disabled that?

    • You know you can just tell Windows Update to throttle, right?

      https://thomas-barthelemy.gith... [github.io]

      No need to make your router do more work than it should when you can just tell the processes to behave.

  • TPLink recommends you buy a better router than what they sell..

    Seriously? A hundred thousand packets over the radio causes it to crash? Toss that trash in the trash.

    If your hardware cannot handle the media speed of a radio link, how are you going to handle 100BaseT much less a gigabit link? I'd say TPLink is trying to cast blame on something else to hide their failure.

    No Pay no attention to the device that actually failed in this scenario.. It was the evil Google device that sent us to many packets....

    • TPLink recommends you buy a better router than what they sell..

      Seriously? A hundred thousand packets over the radio causes it to crash? Toss that trash in the trash.

      Yeah TPLink. Oh also D-Link, ASUS, Google, Apple, and Netgear. So who's product should I buy?

      The problem isn't the number of packets, but also the type, frequency, and the fact that this is a completely unexpected DoS scenario from within your network. mDNS isn't supposed to cause 100000 packets, ... unless you count them over the course of a year.

  • is sending so much information that it disrupts your internet connection, perhaps it is time to kick the spy OUT of your home.

    Same for any other 'helpful' product that connects to the internet when it wants to, rather than when you need it to.

  • My friend's netgear router is crashing all of the time and she has a chromecast attached. I hope netgear issues a patch too.

  • used a 110 baud modem and the newer ones used 330 baud so this is just sad.

  • I bought a basic chromecast to be able to cast my screen to a non-smart tv. Um it has no sleep mode AFAICS. It just sits there forever changing backdrops (and of course downloading those damn backdrops every minute or so). If it actually had a sleep mode, the TV could turn off after some time with no HDMI signal - which I, like an IDIOT, thought it would be designed to do - but no, the chromecast is always sending an HDMI signal - my plan for a self powering down TV blown all to hell.

    So I plugged the chrome

    • The constant downloading of backdrops bugged me, too. You can reduce the bandwidth by setting up a Google photo album with two small images. Two, because it won't work with a single-image album.

If graphics hackers are so smart, why can't they get the bugs out of fresh paint?

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