Comcast rolls out domain "helper" service, with adverts

On Tuesday, internet provider Comcast announced it would be rolling out it's "Domain Helper" nationally, having trialled it before and reported great market success. The "Domain Helper" is aimed at assisting users who have mistyped website addresses by redirecting them to an "easy-to-use page with suggestions and links."

That's how Comcast have described their latest service anyway. But what Comcast describe as a "Domain Helper" has been referred to as DNS hijacking by others. Like many ISPs, Comcast now redirects their customers to a search page, but what they didn't mention in their blog post were the adverts that are on the page too, leading some customers to be less than happy with the new service.

Whilst it is possible for customers to opt-out, many have suffered delays in having the service removed. Furthermore, many customers were unhappy that they were not asked to sign up to the service, and instead had it added without their permission. Whilst Comcast claims to have sent emails to all it's customers explaining about the service and what it does, some customers claimed they never received these emails.

Comcast have created a website so that their users can opt-out, but it is only accessible by users of the network.

DNS redirection isn't new, many other ISPs, including Bell, Verizon and Orange do the same, and OpenDNS have even utilized it to block malware sites. However, it appears that the issue customers are having is the fact that the service was an opt-out service, as opposed to an opt-in one.

If you are a Comcast customer and want to try and remove the service, you can go here. You can also check out how well customers reacted to the news on Comcast's blog.

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antareus said,
OpenDNS does this EXACT same thing. How can you advocate it?

You can disable it just like you can with Comcast's service.

Ok so if I type gogle.com by mistake it is better that I get redirected to a malware site and they install Antivirus 2009 adware on my system? You people crack me up.

Your example is flawed. Their dns redirection is only about domain names that don't exist. If you mistype a url and this domain name is registered to a malware company, this won't do anything to help you.

On a side note, I sure hope they will NEVER start redirecting dns from properly registered domain names, even for the sake of "protecting" people. Think about it for a minute, if you ISP is allowed to send you wherever he wants when you want to go to Neowin, maybe it'll just decide one day that this forum is defamatory and that it is in its own right to redirect requests to Neowin to bell.ca/support/ .

Patchou said,
Your example is flawed. Their dns redirection is only about domain names that don't exist. If you mistype a url and this domain name is registered to a malware company, this won't do anything to help you.

On a side note, I sure hope they will NEVER start redirecting dns from properly registered domain names, even for the sake of "protecting" people. Think about it for a minute, if you ISP is allowed to send you wherever he wants when you want to go to Neowin, maybe it'll just decide one day that this forum is defamatory and that it is in its own right to redirect requests to Neowin to bell.ca/support/ .

Oh I'm sure the day that my ISP decides to do THAT is the day I start speaking to their legal department and the FCC. On that note my provider has long since done a search redirect based on opt-out policy rather than opt-in so this is nothing new. I have used OpenDNS for a long time though.

Patchou said,
Your example is flawed. Their dns redirection is only about domain names that don't exist. If you mistype a url and this domain name is registered to a malware company, this won't do anything to help you.

Not only that but google has already registered the common "typo" names are automatically redirects you to google anyway.

Double flawed argument

and why did some never recieve it? because comcast's very own spam filter caught their own notification e-mail! at least thats where I found the thing... in their own web client for e-mail under their junk mail filter folder..... so it was caught on their end by their own servers.... how dumb is that... white list your own domain sheesh

neufuse said,
and why did some never recieve it? because comcast's very own spam filter caught their own notification e-mail! at least thats where I found the thing... in their own web client for e-mail under their junk mail filter folder..... so it was caught on their end by their own servers.... how dumb is that... white list your own domain sheesh

Someone in their IT staff should be fired then...lol

neufuse said,
and why did some never recieve it? because comcast's very own spam filter caught their own notification e-mail! at least thats where I found the thing... in their own web client for e-mail under their junk mail filter folder..... so it was caught on their end by their own servers.... how dumb is that... white list your own domain sheesh

Lol...

I found out about it from a non-tech blog that I read occasionally and opted-out immediately.

neufuse said,
and why did some never recieve it? because comcast's very own spam filter caught their own notification e-mail! at least thats where I found the thing... in their own web client for e-mail under their junk mail filter folder..... so it was caught on their end by their own servers.... how dumb is that... white list your own domain sheesh

A little late on the draw for this one, but who the hell uses Comcast email? That's what gmail is for...

Easy solution to both this and slow resolves, run your own DNS server that queries the root servers directly. Solved all my problems...

Because it is so very annoying. You pay the (rather expensive) bills and they still see a need to force adverts to you.

nav1sk has a point, but it is worse. The Internet is more than the web. This makes every domain name resolution request succeed, even if there is no server out there, breaking the architecture of DNS. If I have an application that behaves differently in the face of a non-existent domain name, it will no longer work correctly in the presence of these servers.

These types of things are NEVER made with the users in mind. They are purely to generate revenue. That, alone, should be enough to alarm you.

Ahh, so that's why those D-bags changed my IP address earlier this week.

Good news is, if you had your DNS set manually (like I did) you will not have noticed the change because the Helper servers are new addresses.

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