Skip to main content

Bypassing BT's DNS Service

I suffered from BTs failure yesterday which knocked out many sites though thankfully it didn't seem to affect - phew! What a relief huh?

Anyway, BT has now apologised for the incident and is investigating root-cause. Well, feeling lost and detached from reality without full and proper access to the net (internet access should be a human right) I naturally did my own investigating which included the obligatory reboots to no avail (my Mac, wife's PC, home-hub) - and you know they'll make you redo these steps if you have to call support...

Some sites could be pinged, some couldn't (could not resolve host) which points at a DNS issue. Bypassing BTs DNS isn't that easy though as they have a transparent DNS service in place which means you can't just add Googles free DNS servers to your list ( and if you're interested). Doing this  in my case simply resulted in an error message saying that BT's Parental Controls were on a prevented me using another DNS service. Turning parental controls off stopped the error message but didn't help me resolve names because the transparent DNS service remains intercepting any requests.

I could only think of two methods to bypass BT's DNS service:

1. Use a VPN.

This will still rely on BT's network but prevents them from intercepting anything since it's all secure in a warm and cosy encrypted VPN tunnel. The only problem here is finding a VPN end-point to connect to first - I have one, but its to allow me remote access to my house which in turns relies on BT. Doh!

2. Use TOR (The Onion Ring) and Privoxy.

This prevents DNS lookups from the browser (hence use of Privoxy) and all requests are sent over the TOR network and may surface anywhere in the world (preferably somewhere not using BT's DNS service though I have little control over this). It's not the fastest solution but it works. Fortunately I had an old VM with TOR and Privoxy installed and configured so with a few tweaks to this (listen on (all addresses) rather than (localhost only)) I could configure all the machines in the house to use this VM as a proxy service and bingo! We were back online and didn't have to risk talking to each other anymore - phew!

TOR is awesome and useful for accessing sites which may be blocked by your service provider, your government or for some other legal issue (such as why the really cool but generally inaccessible BBC Future site is blocked from fee paying British residents). It's also useful if you want to test stuff from somewhere else in the world over what feels like a wet piece of string for a network.

Resiliency worries needs to be considered before you have failure. In this instance you need to have a VM (or physical machine) pre-configured and ready for such an emergency (and don't call 999, they won't be able to help... ). Smug mode on!


Popular posts from this blog

An Observation

Much has changed in the past few years, hell, much has changed in the past few weeks, but that’s another story... and I’ve found a little time on my hands in which to tidy things up. The world of non-functionals has never been so important and yet remains irritatingly ignored by so many - in particular by product owners who seem to think NFRs are nothing more than a tech concern. So if your fancy new product collapses when you get get too many users, is that ok? It’s fair that the engineering team should be asking “how many users are we going to get?”,   or “how many failures can we tolerate?” but the only person who can really answer those questions is the product owner.   The dumb answer to these sort of question is “lots!”, or “none!” because at that point you’ve given carte-blanche to the engineering team to over engineer... and that most likely means it’ll take a hell of a lot longer to deliver and/or cost a hell of a lot more to run. The dumb answer is also “only a couple” and “

Inter-microservice Integrity

A central issue in a microservices environment is how to maintain transactional integrity between services. The scenario is fairly simple. Service A performs some operation which persists data and at the same time raises an event or notifies service B of this action. There's a couple of failure scenarios that raise a problem. Firstly, service B could be unavailable. Does service A rollback or unpick the transaction? What if it's already been committed in A? Do you notify the service consumer of a failure and trigger what could be a cascading failure across the entire service network? Or do you accept long term inconsistency between A & B? Secondly, if service B is available but you don't commit in service A before raising the event then you've told B about something that's not committed... What happens if you then try to commit in A and find you can't? Do you now need to have compensating transactions to tell service B "oops, ignore that previous messag

Equifax Data Breach Due to Failure to Install Patches

"the Equifax data compromise was due to their failure to install the security updates provided in a timely manner." Source: MEDIA ALERT: The Apache Software Foundation Confirms Equifax Data Breach Due to Failure to Install Patches Provided for Apache® Struts™ Exploit : The Apache Software Foundation Blog As simple as that apparently. Keep up to date with patching.