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October 12, 2004

Qwest: Good connection, horrible ISP

The people running Qwest.net, by far, are the least capable administrators I've ever had the displeasure of dealing with. Long ago and far away, I started with a little Oklahoma ISP gone national. They were awesome. The techs new their stuff, the admins knew their stuff, and they were friendly. They offered bleeding-edge services at the time. Webmail before most ISPs offered it, SSL toward the end of their life... they were on the ball.

And then there's Qwest. Dealing with Qwest.net makes it painfully obvious why Qwest sold off the majority of their customers to MSN -- they don't have a clue. I today received an abuse notice from Qwest. Authentic, having checked the headers myself.

In it, they claim I've violated their AUP once by attempting to gain unauthorized access to a system. If it happens again, they say, the account may be terminated.

Except there are many holes in their logic. For starters, the claimed IP wasn't even leased to me until, oh, Saturday while the person reporting the "abuse" says it occurred in late September. Not to mention the possibility the IPs in question were spoofed, or the sender made it up completely. Further, I'm always leery of Average Joes reporting abuse. Hell, the person making the report went so far as to say all he knew was that Norton Internet Security reported these IPs and it must be something bad.

Oh, but it gets better. So much better. The reported issue? That my system is infected with a Windows virus. Which is all well and good except I'm not running Windows. The IP in question is currently leased to my Mac. Even if it was hooked up to my other system (which would have a different IP -- not one reported in the email), that runs Linux and would be similarly invulnerable to the exploit in question.

Sure, that sounds bad, but allow me to go on for a moment. Qwest included the abuse mail in its entirety. Including every IP the originator reported, and full headers. Sure, they modified out the sender's from address, but they left his IP and what looks like it may well be his Qwest username.

But what really peeves me is that basic network logging would show I didn't have possession of the IP at the time the abuse was reported.

Add this on top of the lack of webmail, the lack of SSL for POP or SMTP, and the fact that the account administration site is impossibly dense, and it's not a pretty experience.

If you've considering Qwest Choice Online -- their affordable, high-speed VDSL offering -- consider carefully if you can stand to deal with apparent incompetence. While I have the knowledge to hopefully sort this out, it would completely baffle most people (and they wouldn't stand a chance of defending themselves from the Almighty Qwest Acceptable Use Policy).

Update: Upon further examination of the e-mail, I discovered something wholly incomprehensible and unacceptable: the e-mail address of the person reporting the "abuse" is in my notification. The original email is tacked on to the report, you see, and it was due to my mail reader's settings that it wasn't appearing. Upon turning off an option, there in plain view was the originator's Qwest.net email address. Remind me never to report abuse to Qwest.

Hell, at this rate I could report the reporter for "abuse" in return for reporting me, and subscribe him to all the hardcore porn newsletters in the land. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant, Qwest. Pardon me while I go hit their privacy policy.

Posted by Colin at October 12, 2004 8:21 PM

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