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Cox Hit With Massive E-mail Outage
Uses Javascript Injection to Warn Users
by Karl Bode 09:41AM Monday Dec 17 2012
As users in our Cox forum have documented, the cable operator has been dealing with an e-mail outage across the majority of its footprint that has been causing trouble for users since last Friday. According to Cox, the outage was caused by a "storage platform" issue, and primarily impacted users on the East Coast and in the Midwest. Cox technicians worked through the weekend to resolve the issue early this morning, and no e-mails should have been lost.

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"Now that service is restored we are moving forward with replacing email storage platform equipment and implementing measures to prevent a re-occurrence of these issues," said Cox in a Facebook Post.

"We will remain intensely focused on this effort until all queued email messages are successfully delivered. Technical teams continue to be on high alert and monitoring systems closely."

While many users these days have shifted to web-based e-mail instead of the ISP provided offering, those that remain on Cox e-mail say they not only couldn't couldn't access e-mail, but they were greeted with website injection messages that popped up while browsing.

Such meddling with raw Internet traffic has traditionally been frowned upon by many engineers and users alike. It's more disliked when, as Mediacom found out last year, the technology is used to fling additional advertisements at users -- something Cox is not doing. The injected warnings appear to be popping up regardless of what DNS servers the subscribers' use.

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tshirt
Premium,MVM
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:4

this is a reasonable use...

...of the technology.
service outages, DNS problems, attack and virus/bot warnings.
are info that needs immediate communication are all reasonable.
ads or any other promotional purpose are not.
Expand your moderator at work

knightmb
Everybody Lies

join:2003-12-01
Franklin, TN

Re: this is a reasonable use...

said by tshirt:

...of the technology.
service outages, DNS problems, attack and virus/bot warnings.
are info that needs immediate communication are all reasonable.
ads or any other promotional purpose are not.

Probably would not work for an outage (no Internet = no pop up), not sure about how useful it will be for the others.

I have to agree with others though, doing an injection is the wrong way to do this. Otherwise, a website virus would do the same thing and trick users. People should not be accustomed to strange pop-ups on familiar sites.

NickD
Premium
join:2000-11-17
Princeton Junction, NJ
They should instead replace the first page a user visits with the warning. Just like wi-fi hotspots do to make users log in. Or they could send a mass e-mail to all the users.
en103

join:2011-05-02

Re: this is a reasonable use...

I agree... this would be similar to setting a cookie on the first site you hit.
Once done - your account/IP would be 'flagged/cleared' and you wouldn't see the replaced page.
Of course, I'd expect to hear people complain on it too as 'hijacking' the site.
In that case, I'd have it restricted to those using Cox DNS, as a redirect hit/clear.

toby
Troy Mcclure

join:2001-11-13
Seattle, WA
Nope.

How many customers actually use their IPSs email?

Put up a page... status.COMPANY.com, it'd be simple.

skeechan
Ai Otsukaholic
Premium
join:2012-01-26
AA169|170
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Clear Wireless
·Cox HSI
·Verizon FiOS

Sounds like copyright infringement to me

The content of publishers is copyright and that is the HTML. It would seem to me that MODIFYING HTML of publishers, which is what is required to insert the javascript instruction that the browser then executes to create the popup, copyright infringement.

It doesn't matter if the purpose is benevolent, the publisher delivers 'set' content and the ISP is changing the content, like a bookstore changing the content of a book.
en103

join:2011-05-02

Re: Sounds like copyright infringement to me

I tend to agree.
If these companies want to do something, then it should be on 'their' page, not someone elses.

This almost makes me think of someone attempting to preempt a TV show with an important announcement... this however, is not a tornado warning, its informational.

skeechan
Ai Otsukaholic
Premium
join:2012-01-26
AA169|170
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Clear Wireless
·Cox HSI
·Verizon FiOS

Re: Sounds like copyright infringement to me

EAS warnings are a requirement as a matter of law, even on the State level (such as weather warnings as a power of the National Weather Service).

»www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2005-11···#page=11
en103

join:2011-05-02

Re: Sounds like copyright infringement to me

That's what I'm trying to get at... EAS (and similar reverse 911 style info down here in SoCal for things like fire) are legally required and used in emergencies.
I suspect companies like this will attempt to state it was an 'emergency' and started becoming the equivalent of a news ticker on your TV screen. Just another attempt to:

a) Push their product to market (ads)
b) Make their existing support cheaper (and not overwhealmed)
seropith
Rou
Premium
join:2002-11-12
El Paso, TX

Copyright infringment...

I don't see the infringing action. It is not even a derivative work. It is a completely separate work. The HTML might be modified, however, the content is in separate elements. I find that argument as week as a feather. Cite case law, please.
XJakeX

join:2005-03-05
Coventry, RI

Strange

As a Cox customer, I found this method of communication a little odd. But at least they made the effort in some way. Just not the way I would have expected. I usually get my Cox mail through Thunderbird, but decided to try the cox.com web mail interface. When you clicked on Web Mail, you got nothing - no mail, no error message, no injected notice, no "page not found", nothing. You would think they at least have had some kind of message there.

KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK

The service has been flakey all night here

I don't know if it's a result of the mitigation efforts and equipment replacement but there's been on and off issues for me all night. Normally it's rock solid.
--
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini