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The Saker
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Mystery of the Eircom phantoms

category national | miscellaneous | other press author Sunday January 26, 2014 02:19author by ISP Sleuth Report this post to the editors

How many have noticed that in the quiet hours of night/early morning their Eircom email accounts become unavailable?
And that is on a regular daily, or nightly as it is, occurrence.

Connection attempts from email clients produce the bizarre error message 'log in details or password incorrect' - bizarre given that those very same details consistently work when the mail service is running as it should. Trying to access via webmail produces a page cannot be found error message.

Attempts to seek an answer from Eircom failed altogether. Emails were not answered.

There are probably many folk with a free eircom.net email account - obtainable to those who have an Eircom phone line.
There are also probably many who no longer have an Eircom line or broadband service but who still use their eircom.net email account.

Support services are not available to those without an Eircom account.

So, the question remains - why is the email service so intermittent overnight?

Is this perhaps a convenient time to crawl and file the data?

author by fredpublication date Sun Jan 26, 2014 23:52Report this post to the editors

Have experienced exactly the same thing. No doubt the NSA and the gardai have to sniff the mail. Since the gardai are not known for their success with IT systems, I hypothesise that the relay server they are using to sift through our mails probably crashes quite often, causing login failures with correct passwords etc.

Well, either that or Eircom are just incompetent! It is kinda fishy though. But not surprising in light of this:
What a joke!

If using Eircom etc, encrypt your emails if at all possible. Otherwise you may as well just assume that they are being read by someone. I suggest you use another provider.

Apparently there were 14,000 requests by gardai in 2008 to fumble through people's phone call data.

Did you know that in Ireland, ISPs keep all your data for two years, wheras it is only 6 months in Germany.
I guess the Stasi moved to Ireland after the wall fell down!! ;-)

is a good site dealing with these matters from an Irish perspective. Currently they are fighting against this blanket data retention. there is an article about their courtcase here:

They deserve our support. Donate if you can.

other posts of interest there:

author by ISP sleuthpublication date Tue Jan 28, 2014 20:45Report this post to the editors

Yes, I have several different email providers - eircom is the only service that has this issue. I also have 3 eircom addresses - all are affected.

I also operate a web server. I have sent unique download links to items on my server, to single recipients. Every link is unique and connections are password protected.

However, when sending such links to recipients in the US and the UK - within an hour of having sent my email, my server logs show attempted connections to the links from US-based IP networks that have nothing to do with the recipient.

This is proof that the content of my emails is being scanned and also acted upon.

On one occasion I contacted the responsible ISP of the snooper and received the answer that links were checked to "ensure they were not malware" etc.

I have encountered the same attempted connections to unique links I have sent to recipients via Skype

author by fredpublication date Wed Jan 29, 2014 01:08Report this post to the editors

I have also noted that eircom has refused to implement SSH in it's email for years, and changing your password is not easy compared to other email services. Perhaps it's just laziness/incompetence on their part. Or they are trying to avoid tech issues with silly people.

More worrying is the change in some of our universities to using a privatised microsoft exchange service instead of running in house mail servers.

regarding your test

It's possible that on arrival, the US based ISP's spam filter scans the mail and checks out any links against it's chosen "blacklist".

It's also possible that eircom's spam filter checks out any links against a "blacklist" before sending mail.

Personally I'd prefer to get some easily discarded spam than to have my emails scanned by every ISP but that's the shitty intrusive world we live in today. No value is placed on privacy.

Of course that is not to say that eircom does not also hand over it's mail to be scanned by any garda or any US / GCHQ authority that asks. I'm certain it would probably do so without a murmur.

However, let's not limit this discussion to Eircom. They all do the same things. The mobile phone ISP's are particularly bad. Here's an article about the current website blocking proposals which have been pushed through and are at the point of being implemented by ISP's in Ireland without proper oversight or discussion

In fact all across the board there seems to be a deliberate and systematic attempt to normalise spying on our internet communications and to get us to accept this.

Sadly the problem is often us. We are free to encrypt all our messages, both IM and emails.

However there seems to be an unwillingness amongst the public to learn to routinely encrypt all our emails with easily available and free open source software such as "gpg" and "off the record" for IM messages.

The official "easy" way to encrypt is to purchase a "certificate" from a known US based authority but those are undoubtedly co-operating with the NSA. I recommend people learn to use "unapproved" methods of encrypting their communications.

You can get GPG add ons for common email clients such as thunderbird or apple mail.
https://gpgtools.org/ (osx)
http://gpg4win.org/ (win)
Get your friends to install these too as encryption requires co-operation between sender and receiver.
If they won't then don't email them anything you wouldn't happily put on a postcard.

If you want to chat in private, use pidgin IM client
and the "off the record" encryption software plug in.

Oh, and google retains all your search term history, so use
instead, as it proxies to google and does not keep your search terms.

You should probably also isolate your use of facebook and other such spy programs from other personally identifying pursuits on the internet. Some people use a virtual machine / sandbox. Others just use one browser for facebook only and another for everything else. It might be an idea to power cycle your router switch and clear all identifying cookies from your browser between using facebook and anything else.
This will change your IP address if you have a normal dynamic IP account with your ISP.
Regularly changing your IP address makes life at least a little bit harder for the people trying to track and monitor you.

It might also be an idea to use Tor if you are interested in a little more anonymity while using the web.

Why activists persist in putting their campaigns at the mercy of corporate sites like facebook, I really don't know. Ever heard of Orwell's memory hole? Your complete campaign info and photos can just "disappear" overnight if someone important doesn't like what you are doing. I believe shell to sea had such an issue before setting up their own site. Lesson learned. That's one reason why this site exists. Otherwise many things can just be flushed down the memory hole and history can be revised, if it's not documented by alternative voices.

privacy enhancing add ons like "cookie culler" and "2 click like", "ghostery", "better privacy" and other stuff can be added to firefox browser, to give a slightly better measure of protection from commercial attempts to spy on you or profile you while online.

However the fact is, there is no real anonymity on the web at present. If a well funded organisation / government is after your ass, then they will be able to find out what you search, where you go and what you post.

Consider dumping your smartphone in the river and living a more luddite existence. Y'know, talking to real people in the real world (meatspace) somewhere away from the hordes of CCD cameras in urban centres. I know. It sounds weird doesn't it!! ;-)

Oh, and make sure to cover your face and walk funny. Those CCD cameras have incredible facial recognition software, and can now apparently recognise people by the way they walk.


Of course, you could get "mad as hell" about the systematic erosion of your civil liberties and go out on the streets with your fellow man and PROTEST. What a crazy idea eh?

Insisting on legislation to protect same from any crawling craven politician that darkens your doorstep looking for a vote, might be worth a go too, but they just lie to get votes don't they?

Best thing you can do for now might be to help crowdfund these guys:

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