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Why NAT Isn't As Bad As You Thought

Please do sit down. Should the shock cause you to suddenly lose consciousness, I hereby disclaim all responsibility for any subsequent loss or injury. I'm about to defend the anthrax of the Internet: NAT. Network Address Translation is a hack to enable private IP addresses on one side of a router (inside your network) to talk to public IP addresses on the other side (on the Internet, outside your network). It really doesn't matter how it works. The consequence is that unless the router is specifically configured, outsiders can't get in uninvited. So those on the inside can't, by default, act as servers of any service to the outside world. more»

Introductory Remarks from Innovation '08

Here's my opening remarks from Media Access Project's Innovation '08 in Santa Clara this morning. A DVD will be available shortly. This was a lively discussion, with Google and Vuze on the case. Good morning and welcome. My name is Richard Bennett and I'm a network engineer. I've built networking products for 30 years and contributed to a dozen networking standards, including Ethernet and Wi-Fi... I'm opposed to net neutrality regulations because they foreclose some engineering options that we're going to need for the Internet to become the one true general-purpose network that links all of us to each other, connects all our devices to all our information, and makes the world a better place. Let me explain. more»

It's About Connectivity Not The Internet!

I've been trying to avoid writing about the Internet as such. With as "At the Edge" I'm looking at larger issues but can't escape writing more directly about the Internet. It seems as if everyone wants a say in Internet policy without distinguishing between technical and social issues. Today the term "The Internet" or, for many simply "Internet" is more of brand than a term for a specific technology and its implications. It has become too easy to talk about the Internet in lieu of understanding. We also see the converse -- a failure to recognize "Internet" issues. more»

Whither DNS?

The Domain Name System is often though of as an integral part of the Internet. Without it, how can you ever locate anything? Well, quite easily, thank you very much. DNS is used implicitly for many services, such as web browsing. It also includes explicit extensions for a few applications such as e-mail. (I'm talking here about DNS the system, not DNS the technology that can be re-purposed to things like ENUM.) But the most notable thing about DNS is its receding importance... more»

Privacy Alert: Watch Out For FOISA

This morning, at 10 am in 2141 Rayburn, the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property is holding a hearing on "Internet Domain Name Fraud -- New Criminal and Civil Enforcement Tools." At that hearing, the Subcommittee will be considering a new Whois bill creating new penalties for people who provide false data when registering a domain name. We need to raise our collective eyebrows at this bill (which was suddenly dropped the evening before this hearing). The title of the bill is the "Fraudulent Online Identity Sanctions Act." (FOISA) more»

Internet Traffic to Reach a Zettabyte by 2015, Says Study

A recent report released by the Discovery Institute estimates that by 2015, U.S. IP traffic could reach an annual total of one zettabyte (1021 bytes), or one million million billion bytes. From YouTube, IPTV, and high-definition images, to "cloud computing" and ubiquitous mobile cameras, 3D games, virtual worlds, and photorealistic telepresence, the new wave is swelling into an exaflood of Internet and IP traffic. more»

Study Finds Spammers Use P2P Harvesting to Spam Millions

A recent study conducted by Blue Security reports how Internet users can unknowingly expose their contacts' emails addresses to Spammers while sharing files, music, games and DVDs over Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networks. The study has uncovered hundreds of incidents where files containing email addresses were made accessible in P2P networks. more»

The Great Internet Transformation? A First Stab

Is it just a coincidence that some of the leading Internet-based application companies are pushing aggressively into network connectivity at exactly the same time the major telephone companies are pushing into content? Or are we witnessing the end of the Internet as we know it? Think back to the online world fifteen years ago. There was AOL, there was Compuserve, there was Prodigy, and there was Apple's eWorld. Sure, there were researchers and students posting to Usenet newsgroups and navigating through Gopher sites, but the Internet was a sideshow for individuals and business users. ...the online world of those days was fragmented and small. Every online service was an island. Are we going back to those days? more»

Skype as a Platform for Secure VPN Tunnels?

Since Skype has an open client-side API, why not use it as a transport to tunnel VPN traffic and blow through firewalls to connect you to a remote system? That's the idea raised by Peeter P. Mõtsküla in his Skype Developer Blog entry: "Idea: skypetunnel". For instance, have a Skype client running on your home machine logged in as one account. Have Skype on your laptop on another account. Initiate a connection between the two of them and wind up with secure, encrypted access through the firewall from wherever you are. Being peer-to-peer, there would be no central servers or infrastructure required (outside the usual Skype p2p cloud.) This would require, of course, a yet-to-be-created "extra" that connected into the Skype client API and was installed on both systems...but that was the point of the article... more»

Infrastructure ENUM

After much initial fanfare a couple of years ago ENUM has matured to a state where it is currently yet another under-achiever in the technology deployment stakes. ENUM initially presented itself as a very provocative response to the legacy telco position of monopolising public voice services through their exclusive control over the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and the associated controlling position over the telephone number space... The perception was that ENUM was going to dismantle these levers of control and open up the voice market to a new wave of competitive carriers. If the address plan was the key to the PSTN, then ENUM was intended unlock this network and position the new wave of Voice Over IP (VOIP) carriers to take over any residual treasures of the traditional voice market. Events have not played out according to these expectations... more»

Call for Telecom Industry Wake-Up

As many of you know, I'm launching the Emerging Communications (eComm) conference -- taking place next month in Silicon Valley, at the Computer History Museum. Communications innovation has been stagnant, in my opinion, for nearly a decade. Telecommunications and Internet communications both seem to be at somewhat of an impasse. The communications industry needs a forum to help break through the stagnancy and highlight the huge opportunity space that is emerging. The stagnancy has been strikingly more so in telecommunications... more»

Lights Going Out on the Internet? Not Just Yet

In his article titled, "End of Life Announcement", John Walker (author of the Speak Freely application) makes a few arguments about Network Address Translation (NAT) that are simply not true: "There are powerful forces, including government, large media organisations, and music publishers who think this situation is just fine. In essence, every time a user--they love the word "consumer"--goes behind a NAT box, a site which was formerly a peer to their own sites goes dark, no longer accessible to others on the Internet, while their privileged sites remain. The lights are going out all over the Internet. ...It is irresponsible to encourage people to buy into a technology which will soon cease to work." more»

Comcast is Right, the FCC is Wrong

A fellow named Paul Korzeniowski has written a very good, concise piece on the Comcast action at the FCC for Forbes, Feds And Internet Service Providers Don't Mix. He manages to describe the controversy in clear and unemotional language, which contrasts sharply with the neutralists who constantly use emotionally-charged terms such as "blocking," "Deep Packet Inspection," "forgery," and "monopoly" to describe their discomfort. more»

URLs: Ontologically Speaking

I was reading David Weinberger's reports on how the New York Times is planning on tackling its "link rot" problem where articles slip behind the pay-wall. Part of their solution appears to be to replace articles with their summaries. As usual, this got me thinking about telephony. Why don't phone calls and callers have URIs or URLs? ...Let's take addressing the endpoints first. Obviously, ENUM is one way of "Internetising" the phone number address space. more»

Net Neutrality Is As Silly As So-Called Internet Governance

From the perspective of Internet security operations, here is what Net Neutrality means to me. I am not saying these issues aren't important, I am saying they are basically arguing over the colour of bits and self-marginalizing themselves. For a while now I tried not to comment on the Net Neutrality non-issue, much like I didn't comment much on the whole "owning the Internet by owning the Domain Name System" thingie. Here it goes anyway. Two years ago I strongly advocated that consumer ISP's should block some ports, either as incident response measures or as permanent security measures... more»