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Funny Modem Story Brought to you by ATT

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Before I start off this thread, I'd like to say first of all that I have nothing against AT&T. Their support seems great, (mediocre at the worst) and they seem to do a good job of... doing their job.


Now, over the course of about three years, I have somehow managed to "break" two AT&T modems and/or modem/router combos. Although not by the same manufacturer, they were coincidentally all provided by AT&T.


I've had quite a bit of experience with networking. I know how to secure a wireless hub, I know how to flash a router with DD-WRT, and I understand quite a bit of the terminology. However, I've had a streak of bad luck with any hardware provided by AT&T. Now hear my stories out:


1st occurrence, 2WIRE 4 port & wireless router/modem combo


So I was at a friends house, and we wanted to host a game of Command and Conquer: Generals behind his network. I told him that we needed to forward whatever ports the game needed to be forwarded, so he agreed, and we looked up the username and password of his router. After logging in successfully, I entered the correct ports, and his computer's IP address. Saved and applied, we launched the game to defend our country from various baddies.


After awhile, we realized that no one was joining. Upon visiting an open port scanning site, that realization was confirmed.


"Great," I thought, "Now what."


I logged back in, rechecked the ports - sure enough, they're still there. I even tried putting his computer under a DMZ. No luck.


At one point during this searching, the internet suddenly "went down". We could not access the outside internet, and were constantly redirected to a local page telling us to contact 2WIRE support. (How are we supposed to do that when we have no means of finding 2Wire contact information? :D )


Of course, I didn't want to alarm everyone, so I tried fixing it myself. Over to the router I went, trying almost every kind of power cycling and resetting method I knew. Nothing worked.


So finally, the rest of my friend's family finds out that their internet isn't working. ("Oh crap.") Of course, I was the primary suspect for this :)


So I explained to them that the router, under no circumstances, should be doing what it was doing at the time, as a result of me. Unfortunately, that still wasn't too good on my case, so we ended up calling AT&T's support.


We were greeted, and walked through pretty much everything I had done, before they support person upgraded us to "Level 2" support. We were then greeted by someone who instantly knew what was wrong (thank god) and told me to go to the routers address, then append a three letter combination to the end of that address, after a forward slash. (Note that I had of course attempted accessing the configuration page earlier, even that wasn't working.)


Amazingly, I was taken to a "reset" page, with a various host of options. After being told what I should click, I followed through, and we were pinging google in no time. Several questions that came to mind were, "Why wasn't whatever was causing this issue cleared after hard resetting the router?", "Why is this page not linked to in the lockout message?", and "Why is the Level 1 support not aware of this page?"


In the end, I was forgiven, and in fact caused AT&T to upgrade the splice box (I think that's what it's called) for my friend's neighborhood, as well as get my friend's family an upgraded router (one with which I have never so much as touched).


2nd occurence, Westell 6100 Single ethernet and USB ports

Just last night, I was helping a different friend setup a Webserver on Ubuntu.


This person is very competent with the ways of networking, thus of course they knew where to go when they had to forward a port. Sure enough though, their webserver was not accessible from the outside.


So we both fire up Teamviewer, and over I go on a mission to make things right.

After much dinking around in the router's (Linksys) control panel, I finally decided that either their ISP could somehow detect inbound HTTP traffic, (regardless of it being on port 80,) or the modem somehow needed portforwarding as well. (I assumed his modem was similar to mine, in the sense that it only acted as a bridge. I was surprised later.)


I found out the IP address of the modem, (the fact that it was a LAN IP confirmed my suspicion of a middle man), and was presented with another configuration page after browsing to said LAN IP.


Being cautious at the sight of a Bellsouth logo, (which is apparently owned by... AT&T) I looked around at the selection of tabs, none of which contained anything regarding port forwarding, or even bridging. There was, however, an "Advanced" button, which I clicked on. (And was warned that doing so could essentially screw things up.)


At that point, my friend told me that their modem frequently conked out on him, regardless of what he was doing at the time. I found that a bit strange, and after asking him if he really wanted to proceed, was told that "it just needs to sit overnight". Very strange indeed.


I found a section within the advanced control panel labeled "IP Passthrough". Instinctively, I selected the router's IP address as the client to be "passed to", and clicked apply. We were prompted with a warning message saying the modem will have to restart after applying the changes. I said my goodbyes, and clicked ok.


After waiting for about half a minute, my friend comes online only to tell me that the modem has entered its "heartattack" phase again.

"Just let it go for a little bit longer," I said.

"It's not going to work..." my friend replies.


So we let it go a little bit longer. After conditions not improving, I tell him to "stick a pin in it" so to speak, and reset the modem. He knew what to do, and came back a minute later to tell me that the light pattern had not changed. (All flashing, with the power light being red.)


I looked everywhere for what a red power light could indicate. No where, and I mean nowhere, was there mention of this pattern in any online manual, even remotely related to this modem.


So I asked my friend to check the model again. No new information was returned.


After 3 hours, I apologized for temporarily ruining his modem, while he was in contact with seemingly evasive support techs on their echat website (he was poaching off of someone else's internet at the time). We went our separate ways, with me looking at another long school day before I could find out if things had improved.


Now just an hour ago, I received an email from him telling me that the modem is working like normal again. He'll be expecting a new modem from Bellsouth, it seems.






Overall, what a nightmare.

If I were to give any advice that I learned from these two experiences, I would say that you should buy your own modem instead of taking the one the ISP provides, if you plan on doing anything directly related to it.


I hope you readers have at least enjoyed the stories. Do you have any to share?

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One time when my ISP was doing maintenance I did the usual scan for local unprotected wireless networks in the hope that I could piggyback one or two and at least check my emails that I knew were awaiting my response. I did manage to find one unprotected one. A local router presumably administered by some technophobe seemingly providing the entire neighbouring area with free internet access. It was terribly slow and unusable (google took about 12 minutes to load) but alas it was the only means of internet I could find in my hour of need. So I tried a few router admin ip addresses usually of the 192.168.x variety, and lo and behold the router's homepage loaded instantly telling me that the signal was good, just maybe about 50 different households locally were also piggybacking and draining this guy's resources to the limit. I figured since he was obviously so inept in protecting and it being such a simple proceedure, he'd maybe not changed the default password (which is nothing, just return in the text area) and true enough, I was logged right in. So I set about doing him (me haha) a favor and turning off his UPnP and maybe kicking a few of these greedy piggybackers (seemed like there was laptops on here running torrents and uploading gbs).So I did that. I admined the page for him. All koser at this point. Changed his signal to a lower channel. Turned off his automatic plug n play. Closed a few open ports, booted a few IPs and reset and let it restart with such an improved speed and signal. This was now on a par, if not faster than my own wireless network. So I became his admin for the next few days, repeatedly maintaining his network and keeping it clean and safe and fast, yet still unprotected. What kind of uber geek hacks into somebody's network and troubleshoots tech support eh?So this geek did I guess, until one night I was expierencing a slower than usual connection and checked in to see what the problem area was. It seemed somebody else had the same idea as me and was admining his router to provide for his needs. There was a ton of new ports opened and an ip set for the DMZ. This is war! So I changed the password (I'd change it back after I'd dealt with this rival piggybacker overlord) and went to attatched devices area and blocked him by his MAC address ensuring that he could never reenter this gentlemen's network and configure it again for his fat, greedy self. As soon as I blocked him I lost connection.I'd blocked him alright, but he was me.Doh. Now nobody can access that router page, because genius here changed the password to something only I know and can't access.Double doh.You know what two doh's make? A dead extinct bird popularly refered to in the "as dead as..." idiom.

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That idiom actually makes sense :) (Although I've heard it said as "As dead as a doornail")I overheard a story regarding routers and (I think:) WEP encryption.This person was sitting in a subway shop, when they discovered an access point secured with WEP, which AFAIK, is crackable in 5-10 minutes these days.So this person discovered the key, then joined the network.The people running this network also happened to have a printer attached, so this person printed off 50 papers reading "Secure your wifi better."What's $15 of lost ink and paper, when uncountably more information could have been stolen :D

Edited by tgp1994 (see edit history)

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That idiom actually makes sense :) (Although I've heard it said as "As dead as a doornail")
I overheard a story regarding routers and (I think:) WEP encryption.

This person was sitting in a subway shop, when they discovered an access point secured with WEP, which AFAIK, is crackable in 5-10 minutes these days.
So this person discovered the key, then joined the network.

The people running this network also happened to have a printer attached, so this person printed off 50 papers reading "Secure your wifi better."

What's $15 of lost ink and paper, when uncountably more information could have been stolen :D

Good story. This is probably what I would have done. This story is one of the reasons that I want to learn more about networking. Not just breaking into poorly encrypted networks but also solidifying my own.

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I've had situations wherein I wander around with a PSP, periodically searching for open networks, especially those running SAMBA with file-sharing all over the place. I later return with my netbook, secure it, change their background to the new, secure information, (a .jpg made with paint), and go on my way.I've probably done this exact operation 20-30 times since I got my netbook.I like to think that I've made some good in the world for insecure people who lack the motivation or knowledge to perform the tasks themselves.

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