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Monday, August 23, 1999
Malaysia's TMnet appeals to lift chat network ban
KUALA LUMPUR--Malaysian Internet Service Provider TMnet has submitted an appeal to lift the ban of its users by a popular global chat network after a permanent ban was imposed today.
An earlier email submitted on August 19, apparently was misdirected, forcing the chat network, which has about 45 servers worldwide, to blanket ban all users originating from the .tm.net.my domain.
Angel Moss, a North American Abuse Coordinator of Undernet.org confirmed receipt of the official appeal today from TMnet, but was unable to say whether the permanent ban would be lifted.
"The Internet is a dynamic environment, things change constantly. It will take a firm commitment on the part of TMnet before allowing their users connectivity to the Undernet ever again, " said Moss.
A confusion also arose by the number of emails Undernet.org received from Malaysia on the issue. "We had 17 users contact us claiming to be employees of Malaysian ISPs or claiming to work for the Malaysian government. We had no idea whether these were legitimate responses," said Moss.
Last week, Undernet.org set a global ban against all .my domain users for repeated and extensive abuses including denial of service attacks and flooding. The ISPs were given 72 hours to reply on why a permanent should not be effected.
The Undernet.org claimed the abuses had escalated to intolerable levels in recent months and that local ISPs had been unresponsive to complaints.
The ban was lowered on users of Jaring, the other local ISP, on Saturday following a promise to adhere to a strict abuse management policy.
Jaring users were warned that any abuses would be reported to Jaring administrators for not abiding by the Undernet.org acceptable use policy.
TMnet is believed to have offered the solution to set up their own Undernet Internet Relay Chat (IRC) server locally.
"We submitted an email to Undernet to lift the ban on the Aug 19 but received no feedback from them. We proposed to host Malaysian Undernet server for better control. We also re-appealed to un-ban our users in a mail dated Aug 23, mentioning to them that we do have our own abuse management system in place," said Abdul Majid Abdullah, General Manager for Internet Access Services, Telekom Multimedia.
Abdul Majid said TMnet was "very concerned" about the "tremendous volume of abuse" which was high compared to the relatively small numbers of Malaysian users online. TMnet has about 350,000 dial-up subscribers, with users estimated to be three times that amount.
"In view of this large proportion of abuse, TMnet strives to handle the more serious cases first such as credit card fraud and illegal access by tracing the abusers down," he said.
Abdul Majid said the most frequent abuses involved spamming email users and newsgroups, "nuking chain letters", with a few cases of credit card fraud.
"Previous actions have included email warnings and suspension of accounts. TMnet has also provided information to the police on various reported crimes," he said.
On the Undernet.org's claims that the lack of security, exploitable proxy servers and the extensive use of Wingate software to "share" a modem with multiple users may be the cause for the abuse, Abdul Majid replied:
"In terms of security, TMnet had taken steps in improving network security ever since the TMnet homepage was hacked about two years ago. Nevertheless, no service provider in the world is able to vouch their security systems is 100 percent airtight.
"There is also the probability that leased circuit customers have weak security levels in their own systems," he said.
TMnet was hacked twice in February 1997 and was forced to take its web server offline.
Abdul Majid said TMnet would consider fixed addressing as opposed to dynamic addressing as an option to curb the chat abuse. "However, due to the global shortage of IP addressing currently, it may not be viable," he said.
Abdul Majid said he hoped the matter would be resolved soon.
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