Eircom broadband users switch settings as access problems continue


EIRCOM CUSTOMERS affected by last week’s internet disruption are still turning to alternative companies to provide DNS (domain name system) services.

Online message boards and social networking sites such as Twitter have been full of advice from users experiencing problems with the telecoms provider’s internet service, urging others to switch to an alternative DNS provider such as Open DNS so as to restore full internet access.

DNS servers act as a phone book for the internet, translating the web addresses into numeric IP addresses assigned to websites.

Open DNS and similar services (DNS Advantage, DNS Resolver) generally provide accounts free of charge for those who need an alternative to their ISP’s DNS settings.

Problems experienced by Eircom customers in recent weeks include being redirected to websites containing images of scantily clad women or advertising when trying to reach popular sites such as Bebo, Facebook or RTE.ie.

Last week the firm confirmed that what it described as “moderate level cache poisoning” had taken place in early July. This led to steps being taken to solve the problem, the company said, which may have had a knock-on effect for customers in terms of service.

Concerns have been raised in some quarters about the security of such open DNS providers, but experts appear to believe that they offer a secure solution to the DNS problem.

“I would think that using DNS servers from multiple ISPs, including Open DNS, is a good idea,” said Conor Flynn, technical director with security firm Rits.

“Open DNS would certainly be one that had a very good reputation.”

However, if large numbers of internet users continue to switch to Open DNS and similar providers, it may cause service limitations, he warned.

“It’s not a commercial entity, so the supportability or the long-term investment in it is down to a lot of the open source community-type initiative, and it may not be scaleable long-term,” he said.

Eircom said it has taken a number of steps to fix the issues with its DNS servers, including software patches and hardware architecture adjustments.

However, customers complained of further disruptions to their internet access on Tuesday night, with some claiming they were unable to access sites and others experiencing slow connections.

A spokesman for Eircom said yesterday the company was unaware of further problems experienced by its customers.

“The service has been fully operational since last Monday,” he said.

The company said that it had made a number of changes since the attacks took place in a bid to prevent further DNS poisoning.