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Authentium Responds To Craigslist Flap

David A. Utter
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-06-08

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John Sharp, CEO of the security software company at the center of the Craigslist/Cox Interactive flap, has responded to address questions of his product's role in the story.

Sharp emailed last night to answer concerns about the problems faced with accessing Craigslist by customers of Cox Interactive's Internet service.

We wished to learn more about what was happening, since the unavailability of Craigslist through an Internet service provider that happens to operate a competing classifieds service appeared to be the thin end of a heavy wedge facing net neutrality.

"It really isn't a "net neutrality" issue at all - or a Cox, or even a Craigslist issue," said Sharp. "We have a 100% ownership of the issue, and we're doing what we can to get the word out about the fix."

Here is our unedited exchange with John Sharp; our attempt to contact Jim Buckmaster at Craigslist about Sharp's comments had not elicited a response by press time.

1. When did Authentium first become aware of the issue with Cox subscribers not being able to access Craigslist?

We were first made aware of the problem in February.

2. Craigslist claims Authentium has been unresponsive to repeated requests to fix the problem. Has Authentium had any contact with Craigslist about the problem?

We contacted Craig Newmark, the founder of Craig's List, within a day of hearing of the issue and immediately set our team to work on a fix. Will Rivera, our head of Customer Service, and Scott Rickard, our head of consumer ISP sales, had a dialog with Craig directly, and it was during this discussion that we first became aware that the issue was possibly the packet headers. We immediately informed our firewall designers of the issue.

3. When did the fix for the problem first become available?

The beta of the fix was made available almost immediately - in mid-March. The final version of this new driver is now shipping in our OEM firewall products, and the beta version is available to Cox subscribers via Cox High Speed customer support. This new driver will enter general availability at Cox as part of their summer product release.

4. What exactly was the nature of the problematic packets that ran afoul of the firewall product?

The network packets coming from the Craigslist.org web site were unusual in that they contained a zero-length TCP window that usually indicates a server is too busy to handle more data. The Authentium firewall driver responded by sending data only one byte at a time. This slowed down the web request and made the Craigslist.org web page load very slowly or not at all.

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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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