A network bug, perhaps? Or is it a cybersecurity problem…
I’m not sure if network problems can be considered bugs. There are so many things that can cause network problems. I’ve been repeatedly having problems with Xfinity (Comcast) here in Savannah. At least I think it is Comcast. I say Comcast because although it is now branded Xfinity I used the service as Comcast forever so that sticks in my mind. I haven’t had time to seriously dig into the network traffic but I might have to if it continues.
I don’t use Comcast / Xfinity DNS. I use CloudFlare’s DNS because it provides some level of security as I wrote about in this blog post:
In addition, I like to diversify the companies that provide my networking products and services to help mitigate complete control over my networking by any one vendor. I like the idea of segregation.
Anyway, my network connection randomly fails in Savannah. I’ve been able to pinpoint Xfinity / Comcast as the problem in the past by looking up the outage map at Comcast.com. In some cases, I identify the outage prior to it appearing on the map but usually it shows up eventually here. You’ll need to sign in:
Lately, however, DNS has been failing but Comcast tells me everything is fine. You can test your DNS on a mac with the following command:
You should get back an answer like this:
If you get back NXDOMAIN that means there’s possibly something wrong with the domain name, though it could also be the DNS server. If you get a message saying you can’t connect, it could be that your Internet is entirely down. It could also mean that you are connected to the Internet, but the DNS server that is supposed to send you back IP addresses for domain names is either blocked or not working correctly. I’m not going to go beyond that right now to explain the difference or additional checks but you can find them if you search around on the Internet (if you can get there).
Meanwhile, when Comcast is failing, I check from other devices not using Comcast’s network and DNS is working perfectly. The unfortunate thing is that I cannot seem to force my phone to use CloudFlare DNS unless I’m on a wi-fi network.
I suppose the next time it happens I should turn on Wi-Fi on my phone and check DNS that way but in the past few instances of this problem, I simply went and did something else and when I got back the Internet worked again. Call me lazy, I know, but I am not getting paid to troubleshoot these problems and I had other things to do.
So the problem could have been CloudFlare. It could have been Comcast. I know it wasn’t my browser because I checked a different browser. I suppose I could look into my network traffic a bit more and see if there’s a problem in the logs related to something trying to connect to a DNS address it should not be and getting blocked.
Since the problem magically resolves itself, I tend to think that it is not likely that it is my local network. The other night my husband came home to watch TV and the TV wasn’t working. I had earlier had a DNS problem and opted to do something else. The problem still existed until he reset the TV somehow.
I could spend hours troubleshooting all of this but I really just wish the source of the problem would go away.
When I reported this problem on my Twitter account, numerous other people said Comcast is getting worse and worse and they are having issues. Is it just Comcast or is this related to a cybersecurity problem they are not aware of perhaps? Not sure but at that point, when I checked Down Detector, between 300–400 people were reporting outages. Currently the number is floating under 150.
Hopefully Xfinity Comcast can get to the bottom of these problems sooner than later. I really hope it is not a cybersecurity issue. I never had this many problems in Seattle. Not even close.
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