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Networking IT

Internet Black Holes 100

An anonymous reader writes "Hubble is a system that operates continuously to find persistent Internet black holes as they occur. Hubble has operated continuously since September 17, 2007. During that time, it identified 881,090 black holes and reachability problems. In the most recent quarter-hourly round, completed at 04:40 PDT, 04/09/2008, Hubble issued 46,846 traceroutes to 1,815 prefixes it identified as likely to be experiencing problems (of 78,772 total prefixes monitored by the system). Of these, it found 195 prefixes to be unreachable from all its vantage points and 139 to be reachable from some vantage points and not others." No relationship to that other Hubble which also tries to find black holes ;)
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Internet Black Holes

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  • More info ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by xmas2003 ( 739875 ) * on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @10:18AM (#23012516) Homepage
    Here's the full academic paper on Hubble [] - this work is out of my alma-mater, the University of Washington - go Huskies!

    Wikipedia has more info on Black Holes in Networking [] ... and for grins, here is a Green Hole ;-) []

  • ...sounds more like an Internet Ditch.
  • take note that (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OrochimaruVoldemort ( 1248060 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @10:23AM (#23012570) Journal
    a large majority of them are in manhattan, followed by dc area, then france.
  • obligatory (Score:4, Funny)

    by polle404 ( 727386 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @10:28AM (#23012618)
    [insert obligatory link to goatse with vague comment of black holes]

    this is so gonna hurt my Karma...
    • by somersault ( 912633 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @11:00AM (#23013022) Homepage Journal
      Hopefully nobody tried to finger the host first.
      • gawk|uncompress|unzip|nice|head|strip|touch|finger|mount|fsck|more|yes|gasp|umount|sleep
        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Are you sure you want to be piping stuff around quite so much?
      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        He already fingered localhost...
    • by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @11:09AM (#23013154) Journal
      The Uncyclopedia has this to say about Black holes:

      "Black holes are simply where I decided to divide by zero"
      ~ God on Black Holes

      "That's crazy"
      ~ Mr. Replier on God's black holes

      "It's a hole that is black"
      ~ Captain Obvious on Black Holes

      "It's a hole that is white"
      ~ Captain Sarcasm on Black Holes

      "Falling in is bad for your health"
      ~ Captain Understatement on Black Holes

      "Originally, Black Holes were known as 'Gravaitationally Collapsed Stars'"
      ~ Steven Hawking on Gravaitationally Collapsed Stars

      Oops, wrong black holes. We're discussing internet black holes, right? Wow, what a coincidence, when I went to the Uncyclopedia to look up black holes I see the featured article on its front page reads

      So I was online, right, just chatting away with my friends about normal things. Porn, killing fluffy bunnies, the sad state of the world, things like that.

      When all of a sudden --
      Well, maybe it wasn't all that sudden, when you're online you're used to sudden things like popups and viruses and parents bursting in when you're Googling Lesbians Gone Wild 4 --
      This guy IMs me.

      He's one of those people that've migrated to the bottom of your buddy list, you know what I mean? The kind of person you may have talked to once regarding some homework assignment or other that you've never really had the balls to delete because you think having a long buddy list means you have a social life. And you don't remember why they're there. And you'd never expect someone like that to actually make contact with you again. But he did.

      So he says

      isllcrk88 [6:14 PM]: hey
      Okay. So what have I got from him so far?

      Username Seems standard enough. Bunch of random letters and two numbers: Maybe a birth year or something?
      Font Default font, no webdings or any other communication problems there.
      Greeting "Hey." Pretty typical. Neither suggestive nor harsh, not too formal or too friendly. Nothing to trip any alarms here. No misspellings yet, although I could be judging too soon. [More] []
      So I click the link which goes to "Why?:Do I have a drug dealer on my buddy list?"

      No, your karma's fine. Mine is now swirling down an internet black hole, as a lot of slashdot mods absolutely hate juvenile humor, while others have no humor at all, while some slashdotters hate ME. Fortunately for me most of them are trolls [] who lost their karma long ago.

      My eyeball hurts. Damn your goatse link!
  • "No relationship to that other Hubble which also tries to find black holes ;)" I thought the one with an interest in black holes was teh Hubbard :-)
  • So what? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Mr.Fork ( 633378 ) <edward.j.reddy@[ ] ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @10:34AM (#23012686) Journal
    It found a tonne of internet holes. Now what? Bhuler? Bhuler? Bhuler? Anyone? Anyone? Anyone?
    • Re:So what? (Score:5, Funny)

      by ozbon ( 99708 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @11:19AM (#23013260) Homepage
      That's Bueller.

      From "Ferris Bueller's Day Off". The spelling clue is in the title.
      • by treeves ( 963993 )
        Since he wrote "tonne" he's obviously in the UK. And so, the British spelling must be something like "Faris Bhuler's Holiday" (don't pronounce the 'h' in either case)
      • by XNine ( 1009883 )
        ZOMG ZING! (sorry, I just had to).
      • Ozbon:

        Give the chap a break! Can't you tell he's British!?! (Hint: spelling of 'tonne')

        'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' was misspelled on purpose to show disdain for the american slacker culture.

        Bhuler it is my good man. Carry on!

        • by ozbon ( 99708 )
          I'd give the chap a break for Britishness, except I'm also a Brit.

          Therefore, the dingus should still know how to spell Bueller - I do, after all.
  • Does it matter? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by flyingfsck ( 986395 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @10:35AM (#23012696)
    Since traffic cannot go to these black holes, I don't think it matters. A white hole, constantly spewing out crap (spammer) is a real problem, but a dead machine doesn't matter.
    • Re:Does it matter? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mR.bRiGhTsId3 ( 1196765 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @10:52AM (#23012922)
      I was under the impression that traffic to legitimate hosts was being lost into these black holes. Its not a dead machine, but rather bad routes being advertised for live machines. Thats general not supposed to happen, although I suppose it would be sweet if all the gunk the white holes spewed out is sucked into the black hole.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by The-Bus ( 138060 )

        I suppose it would be sweet if all the gunk the white holes spewed out is sucked into the black hole.

        I'm pretty sure I've seen the video of this and yes, it is sweet. Frightening, but sweet.
    • Re:Does it matter? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by JustinOpinion ( 1246824 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @10:54AM (#23012946)
      I suppose it doesn't matter, but it's nice to know about it.

      I've often wondered why we don't have some kind of system that when I try to go to a web-page, and it is unreachable (host down? internet down? slashdotted?), I instead am given the "last known good copy" of the site. If you combined this black-hole detector with the "automatic archives" that exist (e.g. Google's cache, or the Wayback machine), then instead of getting an error page, you could get a banner that says "host not available for reason X; here is what the site looked like on datetime Y".

      Seems like this could be built into a Firefox plugin perhaps, with it automatically delivering the cached version if the host is on the black-hole list or doesn't respond after a set wait time.

      (Of course, typically when I have an idea like this, I then discover that people have already implemented it. So, if anyone knows of a browser-level or system-level utility that does this, please let me know!)
    • by Legrow ( 1023457 ) *

      A white hole, constantly spewing out crap

      I think you meant a brown hole...

    • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @11:24AM (#23013322) Homepage
      Obligatory Red Dwarf quote:

      A white hole?

      But what is it?
    • Re:Does it matter? (Score:5, Informative)

      by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @11:26AM (#23013360) Homepage Journal
      I thought a "black hole" was when the hosts were there, and you can send packets to them, but there's no packets coming back. Just like you can send mass and light into a black hole, but you won't get a reply.
      In the case of Internet black holes, it's usually due to bad routing or misconfigured firewalls (which, IMNSHO, is most of them, and it will continue to be so as long as companies hire on ability to do, and not actually understanding what you do).
      • Just like you can send mass and light into a black hole, but you won't get a reply.

        You can send mass and light into a planet and not get a reply. The black hole analogy is flawed, I think, especially as these routing anomalies can be temporary. And what do you call those that can be reached from some routes, but not others? Grey holes?

  • Purpose? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RandoX ( 828285 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @10:40AM (#23012778)
    Can someone please explain to me what the purpose of this is? Seriously?
    • Re:Purpose? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Oktober Sunset ( 838224 ) <> on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @11:22AM (#23013300)
      The purpose is to give slashdotters an excuse to make thousands of Goatse jokes.
      • The purpose is to give slashdotters an excuse to make thousands of Goatse jokes.
        You need an excuse for that?

        But, yeah, "Internet Black Holes" is just too perfect a set-up for something like that... makes me wonder if they did it on purpose.
    • It piqued my interest. I have been having problems connecting to certain sites through my ISP. I have wanted to determine where the problem lies - is it with the host or is it with my ISP?

      It would be interesting to find out.
    • Remember when YouTube went down for most of the day because of a mis-announced route from somewhere or other? These black holes are that type of problem. Not mis-announced necessarily, but unreachable for similar reasons.
  • by RandoX ( 828285 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @10:43AM (#23012808)
    Since it's coming from University of Washington, presumably from a .edu domain, could these black holes simply be running PeerGuardian?
    • Wouldn't any sort of firewall that drops packets silently cause these symptoms? What about companies that use VPNs? Is there a network engineer with some insight? Computer networking has always been somewhat of a mystery to me.
  • Did anyone else find the map to be totally useless? It seems to me that the map more represents population density.
  • Does this mean I could be pulled threw my monitor?
  • by CarpetShark ( 865376 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @11:28AM (#23013394)
    Further study has revealed that most of these black holes are caused by namespace collisions, such as overuse of the words "blackhole" and "hubble".
  • Sure does suck up a lot of peoples time....
  • by Sgt_Jake ( 659140 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @11:35AM (#23013502) Journal
    1) The Large Hadron Collider is causing it.
    2) The government(s) is capturing your traffic because it thinks your a terrorist, and it's losing packets due to the [Republican created] bureaucracy.
            (a) And your packets are being water boarded
            (b) AT&T helped
            (c) The EFF wants to know
    3) The RIAA is capturing your traffic because it thinks your a pirate, and doesn't know how to get them back to you at a reasonable price.
            (a) Your packets are being sued
            (b) Congress is helping
            (c) The EFF still wants to know
    4) It's a setup for the next Matrix movie. Neo's abilities are causing corruption in the matrix, creating failures in command nodes and putting millions of people to sleep. Like most of his movies.
    5) The two Hubble's are tied together, and the internet is an existential manifestation of our physical universe as we discover it.
    6) Global warming / El Nino's internet revenge.
    7) Tubes are clogged.
  • by writermike ( 57327 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @11:40AM (#23013568)
    I saw the site last night when it popped up on MetaFilter. For those of you who know, what are the differences between something like this and what shows up on the Internet Traffic Report? []
  • by muellerr1 ( 868578 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @12:05PM (#23013872) Homepage
    They have a button where you can check if your current IP address is in a black hole. Anyone else find that ironic?
  • by CKW ( 409971 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @01:19PM (#23014674) Journal
    ...because ANYONE who goes looking for this will have to sift through an impossibly high mound of totally unrelated "hubble space telescope black hole" stuff. Or WORSE, the former will start appearing in the middle of searches for the latter.

    The same also goes for people who name their products or companies using simple short common terms strung together - whereupon a search for that returns a BAJILLION other unrelated hits.

    This is sorta like "naming servers". "Short unique names that are easy to type." That's the primary criteria where I'm at. "Cute" and "in" and "cool" are completely secondary.

    # ssh -l root supercalifragilisticexpialadocious
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      It might be better if they'd named these sites "boojums," because any packet that reaches one "will softly and silently vanish away and never be seen again."
  • Hi, I'm Hubble, I'm looking for black holes!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    That's Verizon (old GTE) network. The problem with this is that I use a 2ndary DNS server,, as a test to see if the Internet is "up". In about 10 years, if I have network connectivity, that address is pingable. And no, I've never been inside the Verizon network testing it... I've always been outside their network.

    So I don't see how it's only reachable %71 of the time from the Hubble project. Makes you wonder how many times the project itself is unreachable... ;)

    • I also use for testing customer's internet connections. With the exception of one day where something big failed on the west coast, it's always been available.

      If it can't be reached, it's always the customer's computer that's screwed up(firewall, tcp stack, etc...) or they're not actually online.
    • The problem with this is that I use a 2ndary DNS server,, as a test to see if the Internet is "up".
      Yeah, so does everybody else. Which is why, so I'm told, they occasionally change the name of the server to something like "". At least they have a sense of humour about it.
  • by PalmKiller ( 174161 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @03:39PM (#23016300) Homepage
    See we have this here new fangled linux based firewall (actually its pretty old) that simply ignores ping and traceroute requests...among others...who doesn't these days.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @04:14PM (#23016734)
    Last night while sitting in my chair
    I pinged a host that wasn't there
    It wasn't there again today
    The host resolved to NSA.
  • There is another kind of Internet Black Hole. Imagine that you are a UFO space alien bureaucrat. You want to do routine monitoring of the Planet Earth.

    Solution: Covertly, establish an bridge between our internet and the Intergalactic network. Make this bridge look like an ordinary internet user from the point of view of earth bound monitors.

    Then you can sit quietly in the equivalent of your office and learn almost everything you need to know about events on Earth.

    The people of Earth know nothing about

  • Who divided by 0? :P
  • A site that cannot be reached is about the opposite of a real black hole. A real black hole can be reached all too easily (relatively speaking), and the problem is it ain't so easy to leave.

    What TFA is discussing is something more like "broken connection". Sorry it doesn't have the same resonance.

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva