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32 Comments

news

Phase 3: Profit

rogers_dns_hijack.jpg
Users of modern web browsers are getting used to not having to type in an entire URL to get to the page they want—most new browsers fill in the shorthand, so you can type in “Torontoist,” for example, and don’t have to worry about the .com suffix. Unless you’re on Rogers, that is.
Beginning yesterday (for us), Rogers users started getting a browser hijack for any failed DNS requests, which are usually due to mistyped, nonexistent URLs, but can also include URLs that now often get auto-corrected by the browser. No longer are you directed to your browser’s “not found” page or the .com default, but to Rogers’ own Yahoo!-sourced search page filled with mountains of advertising. In fact, the actual URL suggestions it spits back don’t even start until almost halfway down the page in order to make way for banner ads, sponsored search results, and “News & Entertainment” links to Rogers properties like Chatelaine and Maclean’s.
The company bills this, uh, “feature” as a “service designed to enhance your web surfing experience by eliminating many of the error pages you encounter as you surf.” Aww, that’s sweet, you guys! Users can turn off this obnoxious redirect by finding the option buried in the “Learn More About This Page” link at the very bottom of the results page, but it’s cookie-based, so if you clear or disable browser cookies, you’re back to business as usual.
This isn’t the first time we’ve criticized Rogers for browser hijacking or for exhibiting explicit contempt for its customers, but it’s extra egregious when an ISP uses the habits and typos of its patrons to send them straight to a pile of unsolicited advertising.
What, did you think the company evaporated their last shred of any goodwill following their iPhone pricing debacle? Pshaw! At the very least, enjoy the picnic.
Image by Marc Lostracco. Firefox Windows screencap by Torontoist reader Brent.

Comments

  • PickleToes

    If you don’t want to see it then you should type your URL properly. You’d be surprised how fast that makes the “problems” vanish.

  • thenaysayer

    @PickleToes:
    Wow, could you be any more helpful?
    If you don’t like the Rogers hijack, how about intentionally hijacking your browsing with OpenDNS?

  • Vincent Clement

    OpenDNS

  • thenaysayer

    You could also do some host blocking.

  • Marc Lostracco

    The other thing that is really annoying is that even with it turned off, it goes to a Rogers “not found” page, which means that I still can’t just type in “cnn” or “digg” and go to the page—in the way I’m used to, the way I want to, and the way I’ve done for years.

  • xtremesniper

    http://opendns.com/
    Just go there, follow the instructions, and you’ll be browsing the web safer, and without Rogers’ bull.

  • David Toronto

    For what it’s worth, I’ve enclosed a link
    to a page from Digital Home– a Canadian
    website. It specifically refers to the
    Rogers’ affair.
    http://www.digitalhome.ca/content/view/2689/206/
    Just a few moments ago I typed thissucks into the
    address area and did not get the Rogers propaganda.
    Instead, it lead to a list of websites with “this sucks” as elements.
    Maybe they’ve smartened up or else all the readers at Digital Home sent complaints both to Rogers and the CRTC.
    That’s what I like about the internet–immediate results.

  • Miles Storey

    Along with others commenting here, I’ve been using OpenDNS for years, they redirect improper URLs to a search page as well but it’s ad-free and just trying to be helpful. OpenDNS allows you to create shortcuts to URLs, so if you want to type in “news” and be taken to cnn.com you can.
    The newest release of Firefox also helps out the browsing-challenged by search URLs you’ve visited in the past and proposing addresses more effectively.

  • pgrevstad

    I have serious doubts about Robbers’ ability to deliver Net serive.

  • Bleb

    David: It looks to me like multi-word requests (such as “this sucks”) will be processed normally. Single word requests (ie. “thissucks”) are still being redirected to the Rogers page.

  • David Toronto

    @Bleb
    I did do a one-word search and it worked fine.

  • evrbighed

    Oh the rage. And the total lack of disbelief. I spent about 45 minutes on the phone this evening, because I decided enough was enough, and I was going to voice my concerns. Customer service didn’t have a clue, so the xfer’d me to Tech Support, who had no clue. (I even had the tech try out the feature, lo and behold the ‘awesome new feature’ hasn’t been applied to their corporate service, because it’s shite) Tech support then xfer’d me to E-Care, who similarly had no clue. So I decided to cancel the service entirely, but of course by this point it was 9 o’clock, so they were done for the day.
    Moral of the story: rogers sucks.

  • AR

    The complaint about how you can turn the redirect off, but it’ll go back to normal if you clear your cookies reminded me of how annoying Torontoist is where the default view is now of a summary of the post. To turn on “full view”, you have to log in, then select it. Once you clear browser data it you’re logged off and only the summary comes up.

  • Jonathan Goldsbie

    The headline is a South Park reference, correct?

  • bbpsi

    Pickletoes,
    The problem with this is that when a domain name doesn’t exist, software needs a “NOT FOUND” response to work properly.
    Think about anything other than web browsers. Say, an automatic backup program. If you type the wrong domain name for your server you should get a “NOT FOUND” error and the software would react appropriately (probably by alerting you).
    When Roger’s hijacks the response and redirects you to their web page there is the potential for it to break software that relies on a proper response to a query for a non-existant domain name — in all likelyhood, instead of getting a “not found” response it now gets random gibberish it wasn’t expecting, and how it’s going to respond to that depends on the program.

  • David Topping

    #13: you don’t need to log in to be able to see full view on Torontoist. It sets a cookie on your computer whether you are logged in or not, and reads from that. Admittedly, we’ve had some problems with it sticking to the view you want for the past little bit, but it should be working much better now (though, I believe, that cookie is set to expire—and thus, the view will reset—after two weeks). If you clear browser data regularly it’s not logging out that’ll cause the view to reset all the time, but the cookie being deleted.

  • dowlingm

    openDNS – we use it at work and I switched at home when I saw the slashdot article on this.

  • rek

    Yet another reason to BOYCOTT ROGERS. I couldn’t believe it when I saw this hijacking on my sister’s computer in Ottawa this weekend.

  • ariehsinger

    When I moved into my place I did a chunk of research for an ISP that was specifically NOT Rogers or Bell.
    I’ve been using Teksavvy since I moved in, and have never had any problems with them (though the Bell network shaping is an issue).
    No phone line, great speed, fantastic service make them a better choice then Bell or Rogers….and NO, I do not work for them!
    Plus, when that Net Neutrality rally happened in Ottawa they sent an email saying they were all gona be there, and had limited staff at their support centre…..I mean, this is an ISP that is concerned with my rights, not violating and hijacking them!

  • rek

    arieh – I’m also with Teksavvy now, and couldn’t be happier. I haven’t (yet) noticed the traffic shaping either.

  • Marc Lostracco

    Ars Technica has written up a post about it.

  • Paul Kishimoto

    This is entirely unsurprising coming from Rogers. I really hope that the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan will do with BCE what Cerberus Capital Management did with Chrysler; that is, make the changes necessary to make it a competitive and viable company, instead of a profit pig. Maybe then we’ll get some decent Internet service in Canada.
    …Of course, they could also go the Maple Leaf Entertainment route with it :(
    (Somewhat) fortunately, free software enables at least the tech-savvy (a-ha-ha) to save ourselves from this crap. If you’re running DD-WRT, visit the router administration page, then click Administration > Services (you will probably arrive at http://192.168.1.1/Services.asp) In the box labeled ‘Additional DNS Options’ in the DNSMasq section, enter:

    bogus-nxdomain=8.15.7.107
    bogus-nxdomain=63.251.179.17
    bogus-nxdomain=65.200.200.47
    

    …and save. I believe DNSMasq is enabled by default, so this should return things to normal. From the DNSMasq manual:

    -B, –bogus-nxdomain=<ipaddr>
    Transform replies which contain the IP address given into “No such domain” replies. This is intended to counteract a devious move made by Verisign in September 2003 when they started returning the address of an advertising web page in response to queries for unregistered names, instead of the correct NXDOMAIN response. This option tells dnsmasq to fake the correct response when it sees this behaviour. As at Sept 2003 the IP address being returned by Verisign is 64.94.110.11

  • mantisory

    yeah, it’s unfortunate that rogers does this kind of thing…the profiteering by them is everywhere, no? But what’s worse is that i am unaware of better alternatives in Toronto – a half hour on the phone yesterday with Bell to set up my gf’s dads cable was more than enough to remind me of their craptastic service…and why i switched to rogers in the first place.

  • jcloth

    @mantisory
    Check the posts above about Teksavvy. I used to be with FCI Broadband (out of Markham) until they were bought by Rogers. I immediately switched to Teksavvy (from Chatham) and am terribly happy with the result. My favourite part of Teksavvy is when you call tech support you: a) get a live voice immediately; b) get a someone who knows what’s going on; c) can hear the other techs in the background laughing over youtube videos so you know they enjoy their jobs.
    Run screaming from Rogers and tell them exactly why you’re doing it… perhaps they’ll learn and make things better for those you leave behind.

  • rek

    I have a friend in Rogers’ web account retention department and according to her (the last time we spoke about it anyway) TekSavvy is the #1 reason people drop their Rogers web accounts.

  • paigesix

    About to set up new internet service this week–and now without a doubt going with TekSavvy! merci for the tips!

  • mdwebb

    Another vote for TekSavvy!
    Great customer service, and I also have yet to notice the traffic shaping. It’s also the only ISP I’ve ever used that actually delivers the speed they advertise.
    And I could be mistaken, but I think my service has actually decreased in price over the last year, without any noticeable changes in service or support.

  • mantisory

    wow – yeah, their prices look pretty good, despite my ‘bundle’ savings from Ted…now – who here knows a good HD-ready cable alternative? :)

  • Mark Ostler

    Jonathan: I’m thinking that’s what it is, from the “underpants gnomes” episode.
    “Phase 1: Get underpants. Phase 2:… Phase 3: Profit.”
    “Wait, what’s Phase 2?”

  • andrewpmk

    Unfortunately, my apartment has no phone jack (for some reason), only a cable jack, so I have no choice. :(

  • rek

    Have you asked the landlord why that is?

  • http://undefined montauk

    I left Rogers and now I’m back and this still drives me fucking motherfucking fucknuts. Fortunately there appears to be a Firefox extension to circumvent this bullshit called “NoRedirect”, in case anyone else is still stewing a year later.