Nasty KRACK

This week’s networking crisis is that black-hats have found another way to violate your privacy. Called the KRACK exploit, it allows hackers to spoof WiFi protocol so as to break its encryption and read your traffic.

It’s worth pointing out that this is not just a zero-day bug in some manufacturer’s implementation—it’s a defect in the WiFi standard itself, and all WiFi (802.11) encryption is vulnerable to it. It does require a hacker to be close enough to have physical access to your radio signal.

We wanted to let you know what we were doing about it, and also what you should be doing about it yourself. Continue reading

Good news (for a change)

As a result of a long-term project accomplished earlier this week, subscribers are now seeing faster speeds and improved response times. Most subscribers are experiencing sustained speeds exceeding their contract limits (some are seeing double their contract limit), with an additional speed boost layered on top whenever possible for brief, non-sustained transactions such as web surfing.  Continue reading

Mockingbird Update

The battle continues on the Mockingbird speed issue.

In the past two days, our consultant pointed us towards two problems that allowed us to more than double the bandwidth capacity between our gateway and the Mockingbird Tower. Maddeningly, this increased bandwidth availability is still not making its way out to actual tower subscribers, and we are still at a loss as to why not. (Note that this is not happening on our other towers.) Our next step is to install some more sophisticated metering software at our gateway for our consultant to use to analyze traffic and routing issues within our network.

Today the new, faster, weatherized router model we’ve been awaiting (for months) to order, to replace the mid-2013 board currently operating Mockingbird Tower, finally hit US distributors’ shelves. We express-ordered one, which should arrive late on Friday. We plan to get it installed over the weekend, possibly solving our problem in whole or in part. (At the very worst, it will allow us to rule out a router hardware problem.) This installation will involve a brief outage, as cables have to be moved en masse from one unit to the other.

We wanted to let you know how the work is progressing, and that the Mockingbird speed issue is still our top priority… to the point where we have suspended all new subscriber installations to Mockingbird Tower until we have got it beat.

Thanks for your patience while we conquer this problem.

Brief outage Friday midnight

This announcement affects only subscribers of our towers located in Morristown and Wittmann. Subscribers of towers located in Wickenburg (including “postal Wickenburg”) will not be affected.

We are replacing the Network Operations Center router in Morristown with a faster and more powerful model. There will be a brief network interruption on the order of 10-30 minutes just after midnight Friday night (i.e., Saturday morning) to cut over power and cabling to the new router.

Repaving the Information Highway

In a week or three, CenturyLink should be completing our recent order to double our gateway speed, resulting in our having more than three times the network bandwidth we had only one month ago.

Unfortunately for us, just having all this new speed available at the gateway doesn’t automatically make it accessible to all our subscribers.

For the past several weeks, a phrase has been looping through my mind from Larry Niven’s “A World Out of Time.” Tasked with a 200-year intergalactic voyage, the bulk of which he must spend in cryogenic stasis, the story’s hero is subjected to a rigorous dietary regimen to ensure his surviving the journey: before each cold-sleep session, it is crucial for him to “grow fat… and exercise to distribute the fat.”

This passage echoes in my head because it’s a perfect description of our current challenge. Continue reading

Mockingbird, Easy Street upgrades Monday

We were quite pleased with the smoothness of today’s whole-network speed upgrade, coordinated between and performed by us and CenturyLink, resulting in under 60 seconds of downtime at 7:30 AM.

Our next task is to better distribute the additional speed among our towers. To that end, we’re spending Monday on upgrades to Easy Street and Mockingbird towers. Continue reading

Tower Maintenance: 251st Ave.

We will be increasing the capacity of 251st Avenue tower this Tuesday, December 12, between 9 AM and 2 PM. Users served by this tower, as well as by Dixileta and Circle City towers, may experience brief (<10 minute) outage periods as equipment is detached and replaced. Users served by Castle Hot Springs tower may experience mild slowdowns as data is shunted through that tower to serve 251st Avenue during times when the primary link units to 251st Avenue are being replaced.