January 11, 2019

KPN axes Dutch Internet provider XS4ALL

Filed under: History,IT by Orangemaster @ 3:09 pm

It’s the end of an era: Owned by KPN, Dutch Internet pioneer XS4LL (a play on words of the pronunciation of ‘access for all’ by Dutch folks (the ‘x’ sounds like ‘ex’ and not ‘ax’ in Dutch, so ‘excess’ for all the non-Dutch) was founded back in 1993 and has very loyal clients. I write this knowing a lot of their clients, including my co-blogger Branko, and a lot of friends who either work or have worked there.

By loyal clients, I also mean they will not stay on with KPN after XS4ALL ceases to exist, but have also launched a petition to keep XS4ALL, which is not something you see everyday for a profit-making company. Chances are, it won’t change anything, but it will give you an idea of how much people care about the company.

And why is that? Well, XS4ALL was Internet-savvy before having Internet was a thing in the Netherlands. Apparently, it’s the third oldest Internet service provider (ISP) in the country, after NLnet and SURFnet. According to Wikipedia, XS4ALL was the second company to offer Internet access to private individuals, which was not a given when the Internet started to be a telecommunications staple. One of its founder is Rop Gonggrijp, a well-known hacktivist in international circles.

In the mid 2000s, XS4ALL was big, and one of the main reasons was because they gave really good service. You were talking to people who were all Internet fans, not just working stiffs with stupid answers. They helped win the battle against spam back when you would get 100 to 200 spam mails a day and fought a lot of other battles as well, winning quite a few.

XS4ALL was bought by KPN (the big Dutch provider) in December 1998, but stayed in its bubble to a certain extent until this year. KPN is now trying to convince its XS4ALL clients that ‘only the name will change’ and there’s nobody buying that, to the point were many loyal clients will change providers out of principle.

If you feel strongly enough about it, you can also sign the petition (in Dutch).

(Link: tweakers.net, Photo of XS4ALL head office by Pachango, some rights reserved)

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December 26, 2010

E-voting sceptic Rop Gonggrijp detained in India

Filed under: Technology by Branko Collin @ 7:04 pm

On December 12 Dutch hacker Rop Gonggrijp and his colleague Alex Halderman from the USA were held for twelve hours Delhi airport, the former writes on his blog.

Gonggrijp suspects this may have to do with the Indian Election Committee’s investigation into his and others’ involvement in a “conspiracy to destabilize India“, i.e. proving that India’s voting machines can easily be hacked for vote rigging.

According to Indian authorities, Gonggrijp was held because he should not have been issued a visa. Since he had one anyway, they decided to let him into the country after all.

The Netherlands abandoned voting machines for national elections in 2007 after Gonggrijp demonstrated that it is trivially easy to hack them.

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January 8, 2008

Public transport chip card suffers another blow

Filed under: Technology by Orangemaster @ 10:15 am
chip card logo

The security of the public transport chip card (OV-chipkaart), which was supposed to replace the strip tickets in 2007, has been compromised. German hackers have apparently cracked the secret code of the chip in the card. For Rop Gonggrijp, Dutch hacker and initiator of the campaign against voting computers, the consequences are clear: “This chip card technology is gone, broken, can no longer be used.”

According to the government, the chip card will now be introduced in 2009. However, more problems for the chip card just mean more delay in implementing it. Since the chip has been cracked, travellers could travel for free. And then imagine the breach of privacy with all the data on the chip. Other companies have simply taken measures to avoid being cracked, which was not the case here.

The two German researchers presented their breakthrough at the 24th Chaos Computer Congress in Berlin late last year. Cracking this ‘Mifare’ chip has been a huge thing with hackers for years. It was done with equipment that cost no more than EUR 100.

The Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management says on their site that “The OV chip card will be phased in from 2007 starting in the Randstad. The rest of the country will have a functioning OV chip card system around 2008. The strip ticket will be abolished no later than January 2009.” The last time they announced the abolishment of the strip ticket, the government has to reverse its decision because the chip card simply did not work. The list of problems in the Rotterdam test areas include gates that don’t open, broken card chargers, money transfers that never went through and checking in through a port, but forgetting to check out. Oh and about more than 3,000 complaints.

Having spent Christmas in Oslo, Norway, I saw the exact same chip card machine everywhere not being used by people and looking vandalised. I asked my Norwergian IT friend and he said “oh that thing, that doesn’t work at all”. They use strip tickets too.

(Link and image: Volkskrant)

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