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Windows XP SP3 Causing Router Crashes 337

Posted by timothy
from the insecurity-through-non-obscurity dept.
KrispyBytes writes "Windows XP SP3 has been named as the culprit causing home routers to go into a crash and reboot cycle. One router maker has released firmware updates to fix the problem, but has not yet revealed what is actually different about XP SP3's networking stack or UPnP behaviour that causes the problem. Router maker Billion Managing Director Raaj Menon said "as Microsoft plans to make Windows XP SP3 an automatic upgrade this month, the number of affected routers may increase significantly.""
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Windows XP SP3 Causing Router Crashes

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  • by noidentity (188756) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @01:18PM (#23694643)

    Windows XP SP3 has been named as the culprit causing home routers to go into a crash and reboot cycle.

    Not surprising Windows causes that when installed on a router, considering it also makes PCs go into a crash and reboot cycle when installed on them.

    • Re:Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 07, 2008 @01:28PM (#23694735)
      Lets not jump to blame this on Windows. It could be that Windows isn't doing anything wrong, just something the router should be able to handle, but can't. We can point fingers when we know what the actual issue causing the router problems is.
      • Re:Not surprising (Score:4, Informative)

        by negRo_slim (636783) <mils_oRgen@hotmail.com> on Saturday June 07, 2008 @02:23PM (#23695121)

        Lets not jump to blame this on Windows. It could be that Windows isn't doing anything wrong, just something the router should be able to handle, but can't. We can point fingers when we know what the actual issue causing the router problems is.
        Ya know I agree, as I've had SP3 installed in one form or another for some time now. With nary a problem... Can't even remember the last time I had to cycle my linksys befsx41. Besides I fail to see why a router should ever be affected to such a degree by a computer on it's network. Really does sound like flawed workmanship.
        • Re:Not surprising (Score:5, Interesting)

          by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @04:18PM (#23696051) Homepage
          While my router is working fine, my Windows laptop's shares fail to show up on my other machines and this happened straight after installing SP3 and all my settings imply nothing has changed. I just need to get another Windows machine in here to see if it's only being ignored by Linux machines.

          Maybe it's a coincidence and maybe it's not. The only way to know for sure is if Microsoft honestly comments on it.
          • Re:Not surprising (Score:5, Informative)

            by hairyfeet (841228) <.bassbeast1968. .at. .gmail.com.> on Saturday June 07, 2008 @05:49PM (#23696649) Journal
            Weird. Not having a problem here,but here are a few suggestions. Are you using the "simple file sharing" in XP or standard? Because I have seen simple file sharing get boned after an update. You can usually fix by unsharing the folders,rebooting and then resharing. If you aren't using the simple file sharing or are having trouble still,check the folder permissions. I have also seen updates bone the file and folder permissions. I'd say a good 80% on machines I've had to deal with resource sharing problems it would be one of those two. The rest usually come down to routing and firewall issues. Can you ping the machine? See it on the network? If so I would lean sharing and folder permissions issues.You also might want to try typing secpol.msc into the start/run dialog and then going to security options and scrolling down to LAN Manager Authentication level and making sure it says "Send LM & NTLM responses" and not "NTLMv2 responses only". Anyway I hope this helps and as always my 02c,YMMV
      • Re:Not surprising (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jibjibjib (889679) on Sunday June 08, 2008 @05:50AM (#23699373) Journal
        In fact, it's definitely the case that it's something the router should be able to handle. If a router receives a packet that causes it to crash, it's a flaw in the router's software, no matter whether the packet is malformed or not.
  • by Gregb05 (754217) <bakergo@@@gmail...com> on Saturday June 07, 2008 @01:18PM (#23694651) Journal
    A computer on the network should not be able to crash the router. This is a problem with the manufacturing of the routers, not anything in particular with SP3. This problem could have arisen in any OS. The fact that it appeared with SP3 is irrelevant. I return you to your MS bashing.
    • maybe, maybe not (Score:5, Insightful)

      by frovingslosh (582462) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @02:28PM (#23695167)
      I agree that no router should crash based just on packets it passes. But there are a few issues here. If SP3 is causing something akin to a DOS, and a router's tables are filling up due to bad packets, it might very reasonably decide that things are so bad that the best thing for it to do is a reset. We don't blame the router maker when an external DOS attack interrupts Internet access, why blame it if the DOS is from Microsoft software on the inside?

      And there is also the potential issue of this being UPNP related. UPNP is a completely bogus thing, but Microsoft strong armed the industry to support it and it's in most routers and many users don't know to disable it. UPNP could certainly give ways to cause this issue, and I only hold the router itself responsible to the extent that it supports this blasphemy.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by PhrostyMcByte (589271)
        Vista had problems too. They changed it to do automatic receive window scaling and it affected some of the cheaper routers. I have not RTFA or anything, but maybe this is something similar.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by marcansoft (727665)
      Interestingly, we just released a new version of The Homebrew Channel [hackmii.com] for the Wii (beta8), and someone reported that it causes their router to crash. We've switched to an older version of the Wii system firmware (from IOS35 to IOS21 - no, not the Cisco kind of IOS) in older to support users without the newest updates (this applies to all users though, since all versions / branches of the firmware are kept on the Wii), and I have a feeling that some kind of bug in the WiFi networking in this version is causi
  • by Jeffrey Baker (6191) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @01:20PM (#23694661)
    Shouldn't the title of this post be "Shitty router programming causing router crashes"? It should matter what type of garbage come off the wire, the router must be able to handle it all without error.
    • by Jugalator (259273) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @01:38PM (#23694845) Journal
      Agreed. If SP3 can do this unintentionally, imagine what the series of communicated data with the routers can do if a malicious writer now reverse-engineer whatever SP3 is doing, and would spread a time-triggered virus, for example. These kind of hardware issues are never good.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by KUHurdler (584689)
        imagine what the series of communicated data with the routers can do if a malicious writer now reverse-engineer whatever SP3 is doing, and would spread a time-triggered virus

        you're right, then all the routers would reboot at once... and the world would be at a standstill for an entire 30 seconds.
    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by thermian (1267986)
      Maybe, SP3 appears to have been responsible for screwing up my machine, causing it to crash constantly within a day of being installed.
      I re-installed and just got the updates singly from windows update. It might just be that my machine is four years old however, I'm not definitely sure it was SP3, it was just the timing that makes it seem that way.
    • by nurb432 (527695)
      Or even " Windows XPSP3 exposes errors in routers, manufacturers scramble to fix possible DoS vulnerability'

      i hate windows as much as the next guy but i agree, its not really Microsoft's fault.
    • by yomegaman (516565) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @01:47PM (#23694899)
      The "article" is just a reprinted press release from Billion. Of course they blame SP3, since the alternative is admitting their products are buggy pieces of junk.
  • by ccguy (1116865) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @01:22PM (#23694669) Homepage
    If an upgrade to a router caused Windows to enter a reboot cycle would we be blaming the router manufacturer or Microsoft?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vux984 (928602)
      If an upgrade to a router caused Windows to enter a reboot cycle would we be blaming the router manufacturer or Microsoft?

      Would anyone notice?

      Kidding aside, my first thought was this is CLEARLY a router problem. Even if SP3 is completely defective and sending out complete garbage to the router, the router should cope better than going into a 'crash and reboot cycle'.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ccguy (1116865)

        Kidding aside, my first thought was this is CLEARLY a router problem.
        Obviously. Anyway they'd better fix it soon because a customer with no internet connection and no way to fix the problem online is a pissed off customer.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Opportunist (166417)
          Problem is, though, he would (as usually) be pissed at the wrong party. That MS is the wrong party this time might be divine justice, but it still means that the wrong side gets heat for something someone completely different fubar'ed.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jesus_666 (702802)
      Both. Windows sends out funky data; that's not optimal and should be fixed (unless it turns out that Microsoft uses an obscure but valid part of some standard). The router can be crashed by sending it funky data; that's a major screwup and shouldn't have happened at all.

      Microsoft (maybe) gets a slap on the wrist for not paying attention; the router manufacturers get a kick in the balls for producing junk.
  • As for the service pack not crashing routers, they actually do have the ability. So no MS bashing for me, just truth. Microsoft just has a bad run with service packs for XP, huh? SP3 has also been the culprit for a lot of machines just up and crashing. At both of our shops, we've gotten scads of machines, all with the same issues, all caused by an SP3 update. It's insane. First ME, then XP SP2, then Vista, now SP3. Microsoft really wants to be the evil empire, don't they?
  • Thats funny (Score:3, Funny)

    by kcbanner (929309) * on Saturday June 07, 2008 @01:23PM (#23694675) Homepage Journal
    My OpenBSD router is fine...oh wait, I don't run Windows either.
  • So... (Score:5, Funny)

    by laurent420 (711504) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @01:24PM (#23694691)
    Windows is a DOS?
  • Happened to me... (Score:2, Informative)

    by flar2 (938689)
    This happened to me. I booted into Windows XP for the first time in months just to check out SP3 and that same night my router went crazy, lights blinking on and off. It's a cheap no-name router, I'll have to find out what chipset it is and whether I can upgrade the firmware just in case I ever boot into Windows again.
  • by ROMRIX (912502) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @01:27PM (#23694725) Homepage
    I've been wondering what the hell has been going on with my conne
  • by Ethan Allison (904983) <slashdot@neonstream.us> on Saturday June 07, 2008 @01:29PM (#23694753) Homepage
    It only affects the "Billion BiPAC 5200" series.

    I've never used one, never seen one, never heard of one, and you haven't either. Odd how the summary fails to mention that the problem is only with this obscure model...
  • Same as Vista (Score:5, Informative)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday June 07, 2008 @01:32PM (#23694775) Homepage Journal
    SP3 borrows a Vista feature (presumably the same code) to detect "Router Black Holes".

    From http://www.winsupersite.com/faq/xp_sp3.asp [winsupersite.com]

    "Black hole" router detection algorithm. XP gains the ability to ignore network routers that incorrectly drop certain kinds of network packets. This, too, is a feature of Windows Vista.
  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @01:34PM (#23694807)
    What would we do if these routers ran a linux based firmware? What would we do? Can we flame linux or do we continue to flame msft for abusing specs?

    I'm looking for guidance from the /. flamers.

    • by pembo13 (770295) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @01:45PM (#23694883) Homepage
      There hardly any comments yet. Most are defending Microsoft. Who is this "we" that are flaming msft?
      • by MrMr (219533)
        The poor MSerables are so used to being laughed at around here we don't even have to press submit anymore to make them feel it.
    • You can flame anything. Maybe it was Microsoft specifically targeting a Linux exploit? Maybe it was a driver, or a modification that is entirely the router manufacturer's fault?

      I think the most telling thing about this is the danger of monoculture. When routers are only tested against specific versions of Windows... But that's not a flame, as there's no one entity you can blame for this. Good routers wouldn't have this problem.
  • Buggy Routers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by John Hasler (414242) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @01:35PM (#23694811) Homepage
    Any router that can be crashed by anything that any of the computers connected to it do is seriously buggy. This is not Microsoft's fault.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Lehk228 (705449)
      not quite, any router that can be crashed by bad packets is buggy, i don't see the need for routers to be designed to anticipate other bad behavior, such as dumping 110 V AC down all 8 pins

      /pedantic
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by John Hasler (414242)
        > ...such as dumping 110 V AC down all 8 pins

        Interfaces that comply with the Ethernet standard are transformer isolated (except for the brain-damaged idea of POE, but only the most idiotic router designers would implement that (and even POE should be fused)).
  • by Clockwurk (577966) * on Saturday June 07, 2008 @01:36PM (#23694831) Homepage
    I don't have this problem.
  • All your base (stations) are belong to us!
  • Router Trouble. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @01:54PM (#23694943) Journal
    As some have said, if a machine on the network can crash the router(short of violating physical specs for things like ethernet voltage and polarity), then the router has Issues.

    What I don't understand is why so many of your basic 4 ports lan, one port wan, and an antenna type routers have such lousy firmware. I understand that the hardware is built right down to price, and isn't going to be exciting; but software is a different matter. There are really only a few chipset variations in general use, OpenWRT supports most of them and provides a solid and extensible foundation. ddWRT is less extensible and flashier, still solid. Tomatoe is out there as well. In a world where people are literally giving high quality router firmware away, how can anybody ship a router with bad firmware?
  • Crappy router. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fluffy99 (870997) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @01:55PM (#23694949)
    Billion makes crappy knock-off routers, that were crashing or not working long before XP SP3 was released. Perhaps XPSP3 does do something different with uPNP, but that's not where the blame needs to be assigned. As an aside, uPNP is a crappy idea. Do you really want your OS and any programs (malware included) to have the ability to change your external firewall?
    • NAPT != Firewall (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Luke-Jr (574047) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @02:43PM (#23695315)
      uPNP configures port forwarding for a NAPT (aka NAT) router. NAPT/NAT is *not* a firewall, and should not be treated like one. Its sole purpose is to translate addresses and ports (Network Address and Port Translating) between the internal and external networks. It is not meant to protect computers on either end from each other. uPNP facilitates the NAPT job by giving applications an easy way to automate the needed port forwarding for the WAN->LAN direction. If you want a firewall, get a real firewall.
  • by catscan2000 (211521) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @02:00PM (#23694983)
    It sounds like the Billion router's firmware had a really bad bug that happened to be poked by Windows XP SP3. Unless if this was in a third party library or some external code that they were using, I wouldn't be surprised if this was limited to just Billion routers.

    XP SP3 didn't _cause_ the bug; it merely happened to recreate a condition that triggered a bug inside the router to crash itself. :-)
  • by LM741N (258038) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @02:00PM (#23694987)
    and now women won't go out on dates with me anymore. ....ok, they wouldn't with Service Pack 1 or 2 either, so I'm now trying Vista.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 07, 2008 @02:01PM (#23694989)
    Quote from their website:

    "After detail analysis, we found that Windows XP SP3 sent out the DHCP packet with the Option 43 data (include Microsoft's 'Vendor Specific Information'), but Windows XP SP2 sent out the DHCP packet without the Option 43 data. However, the Option 43 data is not compatible with Billion's original definition, so it will cause this problem. The affected firmware versions of BiPAC 5200 series are 2.9.8.x and 2.11.0.x~2.11.33.x. There is no impact to BiPAC 5200 series if the firmware is 2.10.x.x. Please check Appendix A for checking your current firmware version."

    http://au.billion.com/downloads/Notice-Billion-5200-series-via-Windows-SP3.pdf [billion.com]
  • that if you go to their web page [uk.com] and look on the left hand side it says URGENT NOTICE blah blah blah XP SP3 then "click here" if you are over "click" it takes you to one of their products (not the affected one btw) page if you are over "here" it takes you to the firmware. kinda funny really.. I would like my vote to the numerous others that suggest this should not have been subbed as a XP SP3 problem but a cock up on Billion's part.
  • by urbanriot (924981) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @02:10PM (#23695047)
    Billion? Never heard of'em. My Linksys router isn't complaining...
  • While I agree that a router shouldn't crash no matter what an attached computer does, I completely disagree with the Windows fanboys who claim this is a non-story. It's obvious SP3 is doing something different network-wise than any other OS, be it Linux, Mac, or even Windows XP SP2. It's important that people with the effected brands of routers have this information, so they can choose whether or not to delay upgrading. It's also important for network admins to find out exactly what SP3 is doing, and get Mi
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by John Hasler (414242)
      > While I agree that a router shouldn't crash no matter what an attached computer does,
      > I completely disagree with the Windows fanboys who claim this is a non-story.

      I claim it's a non-story and I sure as hell am not a "Windows fanboy".
  • I think for April Fools we should rename this article since we know how great the editors' grammar is.

    Billion's routers crash after upgrade to XP SP3.

    OMG a Billion Routers crash....
  • Not MS to blame (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @02:28PM (#23695171)
    As much as I hate defending the Redmond Computer Virus (tm), that's the router's fault.

    Now, if SP3 created nonstandard packets that most routers still swallow but a router drops because they don't work to spec, blame MS. If the router replied with a bogus message to said nonstandard packet that locked up XP, blame MS. But a router HAS TO be able to accept a bogus packet. It may drop it, report it or if it feels like it send it on a roundtrip in hope that some machine can figure out what it's about, but it may NEVER crash due to it.

    I hope I don't have to mention the security implications of this.
    • What's worse (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @02:57PM (#23695431)
      It sounds like the packet isn't bogus. MS chose to implement an optional part of the DHCP spec (vendor information). As per the DHCP spec if your device doesn't implement the optional parts, you just ignore them, not crash.

      So this isn't MS sending a bogus packet, or even doing a "Windows own spec," thing. They are properly following the DHCP spec, and this POS can't handle it. I mean I'll give someone a tiny bit of credit if the problem is due to bad data. Not a lot, it's still a bug that needs to be fixed, but at least it was something unexpected. However when you are crashing because you didn't deal with part of a spec, well then you get zero sympathy.
  • Speaking Of SP3... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by xanadu-xtroot.com (450073) <xanadu@ino r b it.com> on Saturday June 07, 2008 @02:38PM (#23695263) Homepage Journal
    Last week I updated my GF's XP_Pro machine to SP3 (she insists on having her machine using Windows despite having a better time using my KDE/Gentoo machine...). Since then, I've noticed that it's sending out SMB keep-alives about every 5 seconds to my machine (which is the Samba "PDC" also). SP2 wasn't doing this (or WireShark didn't pick up on it, anyway).

    Could this be something that would hose a router as well? A ton of useless keep-alives?
  • by confused one (671304) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @03:18PM (#23695569)

    This only affects one model (BiPAC 5200) wireless broadband router, from one manufacturer (Billion), who's firmware has a bug. The model in question is found in Australia and Europe. A firmware update is available for download. End of story.

  • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Saturday June 07, 2008 @06:14PM (#23696799) Homepage
    The consensus seems to be that the router is at fault if SP3 crashes it. There is a major factor that people are overlooking here. uPNP is a M$ "standard." So here is the possible, and I would even assert likely, scenario:

    M$ creates the uPNP standard, then revises it, then revises it again. To the extent that it is a standard, different versions of the "standard" are made available to different router designers, based on how close they come to touching their palms to the floor when bending over for M$. Now, those who handed over their first born have the newer tweaked standard available, and if they comply their router doesn't crash. In the meantime, other router companies have a different/older standard, to which they comply fully. Of course, SP3 makes use of the newer, less widely disseminated standard. Doing so causes implementations that haven't "paid up" to crash.

    Yes, this definitely sounds like a scenario imagined by a guy who wears a tin-foil hat to those who don't know the M$ history, haven't read the M$ internal documents known as the Halloween Documents [catb.org], etc. To people who know the history and understand how M$ works, this is a likely though unproven scenario.

We warn the reader in advance that the proof presented here depends on a clever but highly unmotivated trick. -- Howard Anton, "Elementary Linear Algebra"

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