BUSTED! AT&T begins crackdown on iPhone jailbreakers using MyWi tethering

BUSTED! AT&T begins crackdown on iPhone jailbreakers using MyWi tethering

Summary: Now that Apple is offering iPhone users a way to legitimately get WiFi tethering through using the new Personal Hotspot feature in iOS 4.3, it seems that AT&T has begun a clampdown on those running the MyFi app on jailbroken iPhone handsets.

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Now that Apple is offering iPhone users a way to legitimately get WiFi tethering through using the new Personal Hotspot feature in iOS 4.3, it seems that AT&T has begun a clampdown on those running the MyWi app on jailbroken iPhone handsets.

[UPDATE: Think that the data allowance that comes with your data plan is yours to do with as you wish? Think again!]

Some MyWi users have been hit with text messages and emails.

Here's an example of the text message:

"AT&T Free Msg: Did you know tethering your Smartphone to a computer requires a tethering plan? Pls call 888-860-6789 for details or visit att.com/dataplans."

Here's the follow-up email:

Dear [Customer],

We've noticed your service plan may need updating.

Many AT&T customers use their smartphones as a broadband connection for other devices, like laptops, netbooks or other smartphones- a practice commonly known as tethering. Tethering can be an efficient way for our customers to enjoy the benefits of AT&T's mobile broadband network and use more than one device to stay in touch with important people and information. To take advantage of this feature, we require that in addition to a data plan, you also have a tethering plan.

Our records show that you use this capability, but are not subscribed to our tethering plan.

If you would like to continue tethering, please log into your account online at Cell Phones and Cell Phone Plans - Wireless from AT&T, or call us at 1-888-860-6789 Monday - Friday, 7 a.m. - 9 p.m. CST or Saturday, 8 a.m. - 7 p.m. CST, by March 27, 2011 to sign up for DataPro 4GB for Smartphone Tethering. Here are details on the plan:

DataPro 4GB for Smartphone Tethering • $45 per month (this gives you 4GB in total, combining both your smartphone data plan for $25 and the tethering feature, $20) • $10 per each additional GB thereafter, added automatically as needed • Mobile Hotspot capabilities are included for compatible Smartphones

If we don't hear from you, we'll plan to automatically enroll you into DataPro 4GB afterMarch 27, 2011. The new plan - whether you sign up on your own or we automatically enroll you - will replace your current smartphone data plan, including if you are on an unlimited data plan.

If you discontinue tethering, no changes to your current plan will be required.

It's easy to track your usage throughout the month so there are no bill surprises. For example, we send you free text messages when you reach 65, 90, and 100 percent of your plan's threshold. If you would like to monitor your account more closely, go to www.att.com/dataplans to learn about other ways to track your data usage.

As a reminder, our smartphone data plans also include unlimited usage of Wi-Fi at no additional charge. AT&T smartphone customers can use Wi-Fi at home or on-the-go at any one of our more than 23,000 U.S. hotspots already included in your data plan.

Thank you for bringing your account up to date. We appreciate the opportunity to continue to serve your mobile broadband needs.

Sincerely,

AT&T

BUSTED!

Bottom line is that users who have enabled tethering on their iPhone sing any feature other than the Personal Hotspot feature are breaking AT&T's terms of service, and now that AT&T has a plan, it's trawling for users who are already using the service but not paying for it.

But how are they spotting MyWi users? Three possibilities:

  • Network saturation
  • User agent IDs
  • Excessive data usage

However AT&T is going about this, it's clear that the company is taking its network back from those who it considers to be freeloading.

Any readers had similar messages from AT&T? Anyone not using a tethering solution had the finger pointed at them?

Topics: AT&T, Apple, iPhone, Mobile OS, Mobility, Networking, Wi-Fi

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119 comments
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  • RE: BUSTED! AT&T begins crackdown on iPhone jailbreakers using MyWi tethering

    Also could be via ttl since the PC-to-iPhone is an extra hop. Or (unlikely) deep packet inspection.
    Real World
    • RE: BUSTED! AT&T begins crackdown on iPhone jailbreakers using MyWi tethering

      @Real World
      My guess is that the NAT inside the iPhone uses different port ranges for internal and external(WiFi) connections. Very easy to sniff out then.
      ne6d@...
      • True! ..and iDevices are all hypertunneled!

        @ne6d@... So basically they know a iphone is jailbroken, since it's not hypertunneled (encrypted to a single port routing of Apple's network)!
        They all use single port forwarding via encrypted tunneling to Apple's Servers. Like MS Xbox 360's do for Xbox Live Garden Walled Tunnel. Apple Network operates like AOL and Compuserve did. When you think you are on the real internet, you are actually inside a glass fishbowl of encryption. Only seeing it as it's continually crawled and updated on massive cloud storage. When visiting the real web in real time, it's slower and without full interactive access disallowed in the Intranet Onramp Server. Full interaction is impossible for simple things like managing your YouTube channel or commenting even only by proxy!<br><br>This the main reason that despite javascript engine update their browser is slower than Android on 84% of the web!<br><br>Apple needs to jailbreak all of their devices and open up their network for many reasons. Chief among them is freedom to browse the the web full speed, like everyone does on Macs, PCs and... of course Android!<br><br>Although I use a Hypertunneling Service (pay for encrypted vpn) for work related web access, that should be my choice in my private life. Hypertunneling is very secure... but do you really need it to watch videos on YouTube while not really there or read and write email on web mail services? Plus.... A&T are mad they CAN'T penetrate your Apple hypertunneled network (unless they use packet sniffing your traffic and then they have to break your encrypted data to do that. They just want to be able to sell you their own services and Apps directly (coming soon like on Verizon, etc markets coming)!<br><br>Worst part for Apple's Closed Garden Walled Network of users is...... NO 700 mhz 4G until Apple at least gives you a choice! .....but still the best part is that wireless service providers are locked out of snooping you and selling you crap apps unless Apple allows it inside their Garden Walls!
        Monarky
      • ridiculous

        @ne6d@...
        "Only seeing it as it's continually crawled and updated on massive cloud storage."

        Uh huh. Dude, think it through. That is ridiculous: Apple replicates the entire Internet.
        dgurney
      • RE: BUSTED! AT&T begins crackdown on iPhone jailbreakers using MyWi tethering

        @Monarky
        >>This the main reason that despite javascript engine update their browser is slower than Android on 84% of the web!
        Isn't it got busted recently because those whoever involved in giving that result in favor of Google were doing it for personal reasons?
        Ram U
      • RE: BUSTED! AT&T begins crackdown on iPhone jailbreakers using MyWi tethering

        @Monarky Malarkey!

        Do you seriously believe this hogwash or are you trying to tell a joke?
        lelandhendrix@...
    • Your browser is a dead give away!

      @Real World
      How else does a web site automatically know whether to render a full page or a mobile page?
      kd5auq
      • RE: BUSTED! AT&T begins crackdown on iPhone jailbreakers using MyWi tethering

        User agent string, bro.
        ultrasawblade@...
  • None of their business

    If I pay for a certain amount of data usage per month, it is none of AT&T's business how I use it.

    It reminds me of the old cable company efforts to extract full monthly fees for every TV in your house. They would snoop for splitters etc. and try to bill you. Your main weapon was to threaten to go elsewhere, in which case they would back off.

    AT&T should price their data plans and let the users decide how they chose to use them. End of story.
    Economister
    • RE: BUSTED! AT&T begins crackdown on iPhone jailbreakers using MyWi tethering

      @Economister
      "If I pay for a certain amount of data usage per month, it is none of AT&T's business how I use it."

      Is that consistent with the ToS you agreed to?
      Real World
      • Which ToS would that be?

        @Real World<br><br>That AT&T reserves the right to change the terms from time to time?
        Economister
      • No

        @Economister

        The ToS that says I will break my service contract if AT&T breaks the terms of their service.

        Companies should be sued for false advertising for using the word, [i]"unlimited"[/i].

        It's not [i]"unlimited"[/i]. It's bullsh!t.
        LTV10
    • RE: BUSTED! AT&T begins crackdown on iPhone jailbreakers using MyWi tethering

      @Economister

      Agreed.

      @Real World

      It's consistent with the ToS I agreed to, because I signed up at T-mobile rather than get screwed by AT&T's BS. It's a shame SBC bought them. AT&T wireless was the only mobile carrier I ever liked.
      tkejlboom
    • RE: BUSTED! AT&T begins crackdown on iPhone jailbreakers using MyWi tetheri

      @Economister
      Agreed.

      in this age, i am trying to consolidate. if i want 1 gb of data, i have to pay $40 to put half on my phone and another $40 to add the other half to on my laptop.. come on.
      charlesh@...
    • Oh yes it is!

      @Economister
      It is THEIR network. Same as you renting a house as a residence vs a business. You usually charge more if it is used as a business!
      kd5auq
  • RE: BUSTED! AT&T begins crackdown on iPhone jailbreakers using MyWi tethering

    This is bogus. Their data plan is UNLIMITED!!! This means that, i gould download 100TB of data a month on my phone and it still fits in the plan. If this is not the case the term unlimited does not apply and it's false advertising. Tethering is using a data plan on a phone to link other devices. THE SAME PLAN! The fact that phone companies can get away with double billing their customers is rediculous. three words-class action lawsuit. bury them in litigation. If I'm stuck paying $30/mo for a data plan that isn't even as fast as my home network, I better damn well get unlimited everything on it.
    KBot
    • I wonder...

      @KBot <br><br>Out of curiosity is there no Fair Use clause in your Unlimited Plan's fine print? Or perhaps a clause that specifically addresses tethering? I ask only because there usually are such clauses buried deep in the fine print of ISPs/Telecoms. If so, they may be able to use it to enforce unauthorized use.<br><br>It stinks, I agree. And I think they're going about it the wrong way (auto opt-in) but they may be within their rights if it's in the terms of use.
      josephmartins
      • RE: BUSTED! AT&T begins crackdown on iPhone jailbreakers using MyWi tethering

        @josephmartins

        No, a lawyer doesn't get to double bill his time because he puts into the fine print of all of his contracts that he may, at his option, choose to double bill, when he decides that he could use more money. Fine print is not free license to screw people. As AT&T is a subsidiary of the phone monopoly SBC, I would argue that they are violating COMMON CARRIER. Maybe the FCC and DOJ will finally finish the job the started 35 years ago, but I doubt it.
        tkejlboom
      • RE: BUSTED! AT&T begins crackdown on iPhone jailbreakers using MyWi tethering

        @josephmartins

        Little problem with those TOS's.... THEY DON'T STAND UP IN COURT! When someone takes the companies to court over these things, they usually settle immediately because they know that most judges would do a "Wait a minute.... VOID!" because these TOS's violate state or federal law.
        Lerianis10
      • RE: BUSTED! AT&T begins crackdown on iPhone jailbreakers using MyWi tethering

        @tkejlboom

        You're an idiot. They're not double billing for the SAME USAGE so it's nowhere near close to being the same as a lawyer double billing for the same minutes.

        Your data-usage is for your SMARTPHONE. You agreed to it. If you don't like it, go somewhere else (oh wait, ALL carriers are the same). They sell tethering and mobile hotspots for a reason.

        You buying a car doesn't mean you get all the options for free. You can add them yourself later but you pay for them, unless you steal them of course. But then your analagous to this, stealing data.
        RidgebackJim