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Limiting Bandwidth Hogs on Public Wireless Nets? 171

Posted by Cliff
from the time-to-lay-out-the-speed-humps dept.
arglesnaf asks: "I'm a consultant and spend a lot of time on public wireless networks at client sites (mostly hospitals / universities), coffee shops, and hotels. Quite often, the problem is that some person is running BitTorrent and eating 100% of the bandwidth. The result is that I can't get email during the day or play World of Warcraft in the hotel. I have considered sniffing and spoofing TCP resets to free up some bandwidth but need an automated way to handle new BitTorrent connections. Does anybody have any ideas on how to automate the sniff and reset strategy, or other ways to carve out a little bandwidth from hogs on public wireless?"
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Limiting Bandwidth Hogs on Public Wireless Nets?

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  • by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot.kadinNO@SPAMxoxy.net> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @10:57AM (#16408523) Homepage Journal
    Step 1: Find wireless network with SSID "linksys" or "netgear"
    Step 2: Point browser at gateway
    Step 3: Log in with default password
    Step 4: Change channel, change SSID, enable WPA-PSK, change password.
    Step 5: ???
    Step 6: Profit!

    • by steveo777 (183629)
      Sad thing is that this would work 50% of the time. Especially in any residential area or an appartment complex without lead paint under the wallpaper.
    • by smbarbour (893880)
      How about this method instead of completely hijacking the router?

      1) Gain access to the router controls
      2) Place the offender's MAC on the ban list.

      It's a little more transparent than kicking everyone off except yourself.

      (If you're really creative and the capability is present, change the DHCP settings for the MAC such as don't assign a gateway address or assign it to a different subnet.)
  • Short answer: No. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stavr0 (35032) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @11:00AM (#16408549) Homepage Journal

    I'm a consultant and spend a lot of time on public wireless networks at client sites (mostly hospitals / universities)

    Get yourself an EVDO cellular modem. You can deduct it as a business expense. And stop trying to disrupt other peoples's connection.

    If you have a problem with bandwidth hogs, complain to the WiFi service provider. Don't take the matter into your own hands. You are not the bandwith police, what you are doing is probably illegal.

    • by Chanc_Gorkon (94133) <gorkon@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @11:02AM (#16408591)
      Exactly what I was going to say. A free wifi network is NOT your network. Just because someone else is being a asshat doesn't mean you need to be one as well.

      • by arglesnaf (454704)
        I concur, I'm not trying to be an asshat as well, its just that one person is ruining the wireless for the 40 or so others trying to use it.
        see here [slashdot.org]
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Vellmont (569020)

        Exactly what I was going to say. A free wifi network is NOT your network. Just because someone else is being a asshat doesn't mean you need to be one as well.

        Well, my argument would be it's not the bandwidth hogs network either. If someone were blasting really loud music in a public space, would anyone but the music blaster complain if you were able to send sound cancelling noise to block the loud music (and do it in a perfect way that only stopped the loud music)?

        In this case the guy isn't being an "assha
        • by Barny (103770)
          I'd be more worried about legal implications of doing this

          Can you say DoS attack?

          As someone said, if its that important to you, get a "mobile network" solution, whatever is applicable in your country (in australia we have one supplied by telstra that is dog slow, but useable for MMOG).
    • Re:Short answer: No. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Erwos (553607) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @11:06AM (#16408633)
      The guy who sent in the question may not appreciate EVDO or HSDPA, because, IIRC, latencies are much higher. While this isn't a big deal for web or email usage, it's going to be painful on WoW.

      Then again, if the business is paying for it, that's quite acceptable.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Primis (71749)
        Then again *still*, whether he can play WoW or not in a hotel is a rather stupid, frivilous issue and one not even worth commenting on. That alone speaks to the original question poster's mentality, right there, that it is somehow a "priority" over everyone else's traffic...
        • by bcat24 (914105)
          Word. I let out a little chuckle when I got to that part of the article. I can understand emailing and web surfing on an open wifi connection, but who says his WoW is more important that the other guy's BitTorrent? Personally, I think they're both bandwidth hogs. :)
        • by arglesnaf (454704)
          Its not about priority, it's just a demonstration of the same issue. The ping time to the second hop gets as high as 3000ms due to bandwidth saturation.

          I live in a hotel every weekday for the last seven months and have asked the hotel about the bandwidth problem, and they are supportive of this approach. They know one or two guests are ruining the internet access for everybody, and wish they could do something about it. Since it is a corpoarte big chain hotel they do not have the ability to implement the
        • by Atzanteol (99067)
          That's quite harsh. You're probably not a consultant who travels a lot. I've spent my share of time on the road alone working at client sites, it gets boring. Sometimes you work off-hours or weekends.

          Being able to play WoW or some such really helps to kill the time while doing nothing at night.

    • Re:Short answer: No. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by arglesnaf (454704) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @11:15AM (#16408793)
      What you find many times if you talk to a Hotel Manager or Coffee shop owner they realize it is a problem and have no way to deal with it. They will tell you they wish they had an easy way to throttle these people, without investing in things like inline IPS / bandwidth management.

      Most of my clientel is small city midwest, and EVDO is not an option.

      At the hospital I am at today the IT security people think it is a great idea. Since they outsource their wireless management and the provider refuses to deal with it, they think using a wireless IPS like solution to limit hogs is their only way to fix it.

      I came up with the idea to ask slashdot after talking to my Hospital client and the manager of the hotel I normally stay at. Abusing the network by eating all the bandwidth is not someones right, and not all wireless providers are capeable of ensuring equitable wireless access.
      • by plover (150551) *
        they wish they had an easy way to throttle these people

        Sneak up behind these people with a short piece of rope held between your hands, loop it over their heads, and pull. They are then throttled. [princeton.edu] Easy.

        To make it easier, do it one person at a time.

      • by Hizonner (38491)

        Um, get a smarter provider? I know they're mostly pretty stupid, but they can't all be that stupid. Your clients didn't all do anything really dumb, like signing up for a long-term contract with a crummy provider, did they?

        As for self-help, it makes no sense to say that they don't want to invest in inline bandwidth management, and then suggest that they invest in an equally expensive packet-sniffing, RST-sending hack. That hack is going to be just as hard to administer, and is going to involve just as

      • by CXI (46706) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @12:32PM (#16409961) Homepage
        I have considered sniffing and spoofing TCP resets to free up some bandwidth but need an automated way to handle new BitTorrent connections. Does anybody have any ideas on how to automate the sniff and reset strategy, or other ways to carve out a little bandwidth from hogs on public wireless?"

        When you want to know about the correct way to do it, you ask about QoS and other bandwidth limiting methods. You do NOT, as you've done, talk about TCP resets and "automated sniff and reset strategy".
      • I'm not sure if this applies, but is there a way to change to Point Coordination Functionality (PCF) instead of Distributes Coordination Functionality (DCF)? PCF means the AP will "ask" each connected system if they have something to transmit. They don't just send it out and hope there aren't any collisions like in DCF. If it was set up in a round-robin style, you would get your x% of the bandwidth - as long as you had something to send.

        Don't know what settings would have to be changed on the AP or cli
      • by Ant P. (974313)
        Do they have control of the access point's OS? With Linux you can rate limit layer 7 in the firewall (with the right tools), and there's always QoS.
      • From what I understand, one of the only effective ways of limiting a 3rd party's access to a common AP without any administration rights would be to use spoofed 802.11 packets with the offender's MAC Address to send disassociation packets that will reset their connection, possibly causing them to have to manually cause a reconnect, and definitely causing all of their connections to dump and go through the process of reassociation and getting a new IP even if their client will automatically reconnect.

        http:// [tu-darmstadt.de]
  • I'm currently thinking of setting up a Fon acces point at home (www.fon.com) however I am worried that some people will just go stupid and hog all the bandwith.
    Is there anyway to limit individual bandwith to approx 150kps?
    • by Yonder Way (603108) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @11:06AM (#16408643)
      Use OpenBSD as your gateway OS and set up queues so that BitTorrent is allowed on its well known ports, but carve out dedicated bandwidth as well for other services like imap, smtp, http, https, etc. to make sure they always have priority over torrents. You can prioritize the queues so that interactive services like ssh and http/https will pre-empt bandwidth from bulk transfer services like BitTorrent and ftp. The amount of control you have with pf is any geek's dream. You can even go so far as to say that hosts running Windows get put in a lower priority queue than hosts running anything else. :)
      • It is more expensive than an old computer with OpenBSD on it, but it very simple to set up and is very easy to limit the speed of users by class.

        We had a hotel with a 1.5Mb wireless connection that had a movie downloader just hammering us night and day. Not only was it killing the service for other users at the hotel, it was killing service for other users all over our wireless network.

        Solution: We talked the hotel into getting a D-LINK DSA-3100. I had it installed in an afternoon, the hotel had a captive p
        • by misleb (129952)

          Solution: We talked the hotel into getting a D-LINK DSA-3100. I had it installed in an afternoon, the hotel had a captive portal to boot, and everyone got a smaller but much fairer share of the bandwidth.

          I recently installed a DSA-3200 (the successor to the 3100) and I can't figure out how to make usage fair. I can limit the overal bandwidth used for each authentication group, which is great because we use our T1s for other things besides wireless, but how do I limit bandwitdh per protocol or make usage f

    • by swv3752 (187722)
      Setup QoS. If using something like DD-WRT, fairly easy to do it on the router itself to throttle everyone.
    • by Stavr0 (35032)
      Prioritized Internet Sharing for Home Users? (from the bandwidth-preservation dept.) [slashdot.org]

      Even a plain jane Linksys router has basic QoS support. I have mine setup to prioritize port 25, 110 and 80.

      • by Knara (9377)
        If you have a WRT54x router, are you still using the original firmware? I had very little luck getting prioritization of packets through its QOS to work right. The DD-WRT seems to work a lot better, wondering if I'd missed something in the factory setup (though now that I think about it I think I was prioritizing by switch port, but that shouldn't matter I wouldn't think).
    • To DIY, put a distribution like OpenWRT [openwrt.org] on something like a Linksys WRT54G, that will give you all the flexibility you need to setup bandwidth management.

      For an off the shelf solution, the Asus 500gl has various bandwidth management features. Haven't used it myself but it seems worth a look.
    • by Strolls (641018)

      I'm currently thinking of setting up a Fon acces point at home (www.fon.com) however I am worried that some people will just go stupid and hog all the bandwith. Is there anyway to limit individual bandwith to approx 150kps?

      Yes. When you log into the Fon router using the registered email address & password you are redirected to your "Fon homepage" which has a sliding meter to set the amount of bandwidth you wish to share. You can also add "guest" accounts - users logging in with one of these do not have

  • Go and unplug the router. Most likely, anyone using bittorrent is leaving the computer unattended so, dropping thier connection will likely keep them from reconnecting, particularly if the hotspot is using nocatauth.

    Though it it was properly setup, they would just have QoS set on the router, so no one person could be a hog.
  • I suggest (Score:5, Funny)

    by Acy James Stapp (1005) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @11:08AM (#16408677)
    You go from room to room asking if anyone is running bittorrent. When you find someone who is, shoot them and close bittorrent. I think any judge would consider this reasonable, after all it's *your* bandwidth they're stealing, and clearly thoes denied their WoW fix can't be expected to behave entirely rationally.
    • by camusflage (65105)
      clearly thoes denied their WoW fix can't be expected to behave entirely rationally.

      Jack Thompson, it's good to see you've seen the light. Can you please stop going after Take Two now, mmmmkay?
    • by loraksus (171574)
      No, no, WOW players would use the +36 sword of truth to slay the hogs...
  • by SafariShane (560870) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @11:16AM (#16408809)
    I could have written the same question, except that I don't play wow (anymore). There is literally no bandwidth to be had at my hotel from 8pm till midnight, 4 nights a week. I totally understand how frustrated this guy is. I've been staying in the same hotel for 6+ months now, and it's only in the past 6 or 7 weeks, that it's been a bandwidth nightmare. I totally suspect someone is simply hogging it all, and would love to find out which room needs 11 towels and a toothbrush at 3am.
    • It was fun getting online while travelling, back before public connectivity was widespread. I used to pack my hefty old 486 portable with a modem cord with alligator clips on the end (beige box style) and some straight pins of the type normally used for sewing. If you could stick two pins into the phone cord at different spots, one touching the "ring" line and the other touching the "tip," you could clip your modem onto those pins and get online without having to explain to some backwater motel clerk (or
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Doctor Memory (6336)

        I used to pack my hefty old 486 portable

        486? 486?!?!? Back in my day (about the time dirt went beta), we used the trusty old TI 765 [xmission.com]. With real acoustic couplers, none of your fancy-pants alligator clips. And everything was PRINTED on PAPER, so you had a permanent record of your telnet session to ucbvax to prove you'd been there.

        You kids with your microprocessors and your CRTs and computers you can lift — GET OFF MY ROCKS!

        • by plover (150551) *
          A Silent 700? Well, weren't YOU the rich kid? You and your high-speed 300 baud modem, and your shiny expensive thermal paper! We used to dream of the day we might be able to get a Silent 700.

          We had to make due with a Data Products PortaTerm, which apparently was invented and destroyed before the advent of photography, 'cuz I can't find an image of one anywhere on Google. It was a full briefcase-sized impact-hammer-through-the-paper terminal, complete with a 110 baud acoustically coupled modem. The br

  • Step 1: Find a solution you could impliment cheaply if only you had permission.
    Step 2: Buy the coffee shop or hotel manager lunch. Explain that they have a problem and that you are willing to fix it in exchange for goods and services. Explain how this will make life better for all their customers.
    Step 3: After getting permission, fix the problem.
    Step 4: Enjoy the coffee or free room-nights.
    Step 5, required in some countries :( : Pay self-employment taxes on value of bartered goods.

    Step 6: Use refere
    • Excellent idea. For Step 1, I suggest looking at this comment. [slashdot.org]

      Of course, it may be that the AP already supports QoS and it just needs to be configured. If not, running OpenBSD's PF as a bridge on a Soekris 4801 [soekris.com] (or equivalent low-power box) with compact flash for mass storage would allow him (with the owner's permission) to place it upstream of the access point and forget about it. The whole thing is US $300-$400 plus time.

      (It could be done even cheaper on a salvaged old computer, of course, but the reliabi
  • by josepha48 (13953) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @11:35AM (#16409069) Journal
    .. that you are asking that in public. What you are asking to do is possibly against the computer abuse and fraud act. You are asking to disrupt someone elses connection by 'hacking/cracking' thier traffic.

    I'd suggest you go to the front desk and tell them that you are having problems with the wireless. That you are staying in this hotel because they have internet access. I'd suggest that you tell them someone needs to look into the situation or move you to another hotel. Tell them that you suspect that someone is doing something against the law ( I know running bit torent is not against the law ) and taking up all the bandwidth. Who knows you can drop in the comment, I think that someone is running an unlawful site and allowing people to download pirated movies and that the MPAA and RIAA may come after the hotel and sue them. That would get their attention.

    Complaining often works!

    • by arglesnaf (454704)
      I actually already have complained. See this post [slashdot.org] I've been living in this hotel for the past 7 months and they know they have a problem and are powerless to fix it. They know one or two guests ruin the connection for everybody, but their outsourced wireless provider isn't fixing things. The Hospital has the same problem. Both are supportive of the idea of interrupting the bandwidth hogs to use the connection. (I actually consult for the Hospital security dept, they can't get the outsourced wireless pr
      • by LurkerXXX (667952)
        Well if you are a security consultant, than you should know some network security guys. Ask them and I'm sure one of them would be happy to consult or point out a consultant who could fix them right up. If they can't get permission to replace the wireless equipment they have, but you have physical access to the wireless access points and the central tie-in to the cable/dsl/T1 or whatever, drop in an IP-less OpenBSD machine between them, and have it throttle the users.
    • by illumin8 (148082)

      What you are asking to do is possibly against the computer abuse and fraud act. You are asking to disrupt someone elses connection by 'hacking/cracking' thier traffic.

      I would disagree. This is not illegal, but it is unethical. You are not hacking or cracking anything on their computer. All you are doing is sending a TCP reset packet on an open wireless network. Their computer can choose to ignore it or honor the reset request; you are not accessing or tampering with any data on their computer itself. B

  • *chuckle* (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TrebleJunkie (208060) <ezahurak.atlanticbb@net> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @11:42AM (#16409193) Homepage Journal
    ...ya bitch about The Next Guy hogging your bandwidth, and yet most of you clamour for "Net Neutrality."

    Irony.... glooooorious irony.

    • Comparing a coffee shop or hospital to an ISP is a bit much, don't you think?

      The ISP has common-carrier status. They have regulations that assume they are neutral and treat all traffic equally, in return for various benefits. Also, in many cases there is no real competition. If the ISP decides to go non-neutral, there really isn't any way around it.

      If there were many local ISPs, each with a different set of bandwidth rules, and they actually *advertised* those rules and charged a fair price for the vario
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bucky0 (229117)
      That would be really ironic and funny if that was the argument against NN at all.

      The argument about NN isn't about whether or not ISPs should be able to give certain type of traffic greater priority over the others (I.E. making VOIP take higher priority over HTTP)

      The argument about NN is whether or not ISPs should be allowed to give certain organizations higher priority than others. What the submitter is talking about is prioritising HTTP over Bittorrent, which most wouldn't disagree about. What NN supporte
      • by balthan (130165)
        The argument about NN isn't about whether or not ISPs should be able to give certain type of traffic greater priority over the others

        It really depends on who is doing the arguing. The point has been a bit muddled and it's hard, sometimes, to get people to agree on specifically what they're arguing about.
        • by bucky0 (229117)
          Fair enough, there's been more than enough misinformation about NN, but it doesn't change the reality of what ISPs and companies like google are arguing for.
  • by ufnoise (732845) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @11:46AM (#16409249)
    If you reduce your mtu, you might be able to squeeze some packets through and reduce latency. At least that is what I did when sharing a 56K modem connection. This also helps when your webbrowser is trying to download multiple images simultaneously.

    Otherwise, go to Starbucks and pay $.10 cents a minute, because hardly anyone else will.
  • by haydenth (588730) <haydenth@NOsPAM.msu.edu> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @11:50AM (#16409321)
    We used to have this problem when I lived in a house where 10-15 people shared a wireless connection and none of us had admin access to the router. We couldn't play XBOX live or anything because some asshat was downloading porn on bittorrent constantly. I used to just spoof ARP packets and have all of the traffic route through me, whereby I'd summarily kill all of his traffic and mess up his routing tables.
  • The proper way to handle this problem is for the hotel to install an intelligent LAN router that can limit bandwidth for each user. This solution is protocol independent and not easily bypassed.
  • Okay... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @11:57AM (#16409451) Homepage Journal
    Isn't WOW a bandwidth hog?
    Sort of seems like you are asking how can I kick off OTHER bandwidth hogs?
    Or how do I control a free open network I don't own?

    Okay...
  • So let me get this straight. For your convienience you are using a free service - then complaining about the service that you receive.

    Hate to tell you buddy... If you want to get a good clean connection - work from home, setup your own network - brew your own coffee, and get the quality that you need. If you want to sit in a coffee house and drink overpriced drinks, talk loudly on your cell phone, and use their connection to gring your Tier II gear in WoW - Well, you get what you pay for.

    Now quit whin

    • by arglesnaf (454704)
      I posted this above, but am reposting here:

      What you find many times if you talk to a Hotel Manager or Coffee shop owner they realize it is a problem and have no way to deal with it. They will tell you they wish they had an easy way to throttle these people, without investing in things like inline IPS / bandwidth management.

      Most of my clientel is small city midwest, and EVDO is not an option.

      At the hospital I am at today the IT security people think it is a great idea. Since they outsource their wireless man
  • Is it just me... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Samurai Cat! (15315) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @12:28PM (#16409895) Homepage
    ...or does this fellow complaining about BitTorrent users eating up bandwidth preventing him from eating up that same bandwidth playing WoW just seem... kinda... ironic? :/
    • by toleraen (831634)
      Contrary to popular belief, well, actually just yours, MMOGs are typically pretty low on bandwidth use. I haven't played WoW on a dialup connection, but I know Everquest ran perfectly fine over a 28.8, even with 100+ people in the zone...and EQ was coded pretty badly, since it sends updates on everything going on in the zone, not just a limited area. Games don't use up the maximum bandwidth just because they can, unlike BT.
  • by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Thursday October 12, 2006 @12:56PM (#16410303) Homepage Journal
    ...and I caught him fucking with connections, especially MINE, I'd walk the 800+ foot radius from my router, circle around the router at that distance, find this bastard and BEAT HIS ASS.

    This is not your network, pal. Quit trying to fuck it up. First come, FIRST FUCKING SERVE.

    *WHIIIINE* I Can't play my life-sucking WoW because of the Pir8s on BT!!!11one.

    Gimme a fucking break.
    • This isn't just about WoW. It's also about email. Personally, I use public wireless to actually get work done, from time to time.
  • by Lxy (80823)
    What you're saying is that some guy running bittorent doesn't have a right to bandwidth, but you do? Do you know the definition of "public network"?

    Grow up already.
  • by UnifiedTechs (100743) on Thursday October 12, 2006 @01:33PM (#16410825) Homepage
    "I'm a Student and spend a lot of time on public wireless networks at my university, coffee shops, and hotels. Recently I have noticed the alot of disconections in my Bittorent of linux distro's I need to download for my CS thesis. The result is that I can't my thesis completed, during the day I have noticed someone playing World of Warcraft without any problems. I have considered sniffing and spoofing TCP resets to free up some bandwidth but need an automated way to handle new connections. Does anybody have any ideas on how to automate the sniff and reset strategy, or other ways to carve out a little bandwidth from hogs on the wireless sytem that my college tuition pays for?"
    • The result is that I can't my thesis completed

      The result of your thesis not getting completed is not due to wireless access. It's due to improper prioritization. There are plenty of places on-campus with LOTS of bandwidth: Use a Computer Lab or *gasp* "jack in".

      If you can't complete your thesis at Starbucks (or in the Hilton lobby), the problem is not wireless bandwidth hogs.

    • Ok, I just actually read your post, and now the meaning of my previous reply has changed. Wierd.

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