Free Tool To Test The Integrity Of Your ISP

Dennis Faas's picture

As part of a "Test Your ISP" Project, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is reportedly releasing "Switzerland," a software tool for customers to test the integrity of their Internet communications. The idea is the result of a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) action against Comcast for violating the FCC's net neutrality principles.

Comcast was recently caught interfering with its subscribers' use of BitTorrent, Gnutella, and other common file-sharing protocols employed by millions of Internet users. In an effort to disrupt certain protocols commonly used for file-sharing, Comcast injected forged RST packets into TCP communications. Interference was triggered by the protocol used by the subscriber, not the number of connections made or the amount of bandwidth used. These interference efforts by Comcast were first documented and disclosed in October 2007.

The EFF notes that the FCC is ill-equipped to detect ISPs interfering with your Internet connection so it's up to concerned Internet users to investigate possible network neutrality violations.

The EFF's Switzerland software is designed to help with that effort. Comcast was caught meddling with users' Internet connections, but they're not the first, and they certainly won't be the last ISP to do that. Switzerland is designed to make general-purpose ISP testing faster and easier.

Switzerland is an open source, command-line software tool designed to detect modifications or injections of packets of data by ISPs. Switzerland detects changes made by software tools believed to be in use by ISPs such as Sandvine and AudibleMagic, advertising systems like FairEagle, and various censorship systems. Currently, Switzerland is intended for use by technically sophisticated Internet users, but development plans are under way to make the tool increasingly easier to use for everyone.

More information about Switzerland software can be found here via the EFF, where it is also available for download. More information about the EFF's "Test Your ISP" Project can be found here.

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