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Carriers May Be Handicapping Cell Phone Networks

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Credit: Courtesy of CNet

Researchers at the University of Michigan and Microsoft Research found that wireless operators may unknowingly be degrading performance on their networks as the technology they use to move traffic gets more complex.

The researchers found that middleboxes, network hardware that performs functions such as firewalling, deep packet inspection, and intrusion detection, may be slowing down network connections and exposing wireless subscribers to security vulnerabilities. The researchers say they have observed a 50 percent performance drop on one of the four major U.S. carrier networks.

"The behavior and effects of middleboxes in wireless networks is not well understood," says Michigan professor Zhuoqing Morley Mao.

The researchers found that at least one major U.S. wireless operator was buffering data traffic to slow down retransmission of data when the network was overly congested, which caused the sending device to wait a long time before trying to retransmit the data. The researchers also note that some middleboxes allow for IP spoofing, which could enable attackers to disguise their devices to launch attacks on other devices and the network.

From CNet
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