* How To Fix Verizon FiOS Internet Service When All HTTP Traffic Is Blocked

QA rule zero: whatever changed last caused the problem.

At 6:00 am, my wife woke me up to inform me that she could not access her Gmail. Ironically, I switched my parents, kids, wife, and office to Gmail in part to minimize tech support calls. And even though it’s a holiday (MLK Day), tech support takes no holiday.

Here is the Verizon FiOS Internet error message (click to enlarge):

2008-01-21-b-fios-bug-850x557.png

And, for those trying to Google this problem (presumably from a non-FiOS network), here is the text of the above error message:

http://192.168.1.1/index.cgi?blocked=http://www.google.com/reader

Attention

Access Blocked: Your attempted access to URL http://www.google.com/reader was blocked (Keyword Filter). Contact your network administrator for help.

As error messages go, this one is pretty good. We have the URL starting in 192.168.1.1, which is the IP address of the Verizon FiOS router (an Actiontec MI424WR in my case). And we know that a “Keyword Filter” is causing Google to be blocked.

In an earlier life, I did quality assurance (QA) on both hardware and software (at BBN, if you’re curious). Whenever the hardware engineers changed the hardware and broke the system, they suspected bad software. Whenever the the software engineers changed the software and broke the system, they suspected bad hardware. I learned if you broke a system that was working before you touched it, then whatever you changed last is what caused the system to break. Software engineers broke software, hardware engineers broke hardware.

Other good practice that I learned from working in QA:

  1. Take good notes.
  2. Figure out what works.
  3. Figure out what doesn’t work.
  4. Make an educated guess about what is causing the difference between what works and what does not.
  5. Test each possible cause one at a time. Do not test more than one variable at at time.
  6. Lather, rinse, repeat.
  7. Take good notes.

I tested other TCP/IP applications. I was able to VNC over SSH into my work computer. Therefore, the Internet connection was working.

I was able to access Gmail via a secure connection (e.g. https://www.gmail.com/) and was able to access other websites via HTTPS but not via HTTP. The HTTP protocol runs on port 80, the HTTPS runs on port 443. (See the IANA well known ports and registered ports list for details.) I have heard of ISPs blocking inbound access to port 80 to discourage home users from running web servers, but I have never heard of blocking outbound HTTP traffic.

Here I cheat a little. I recognized the error message as being from the Actiontec router’s built-in “parental control” software from the 30-day free trial I received in the fall of 2006. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

To login to the router, point your browser to http://192.168.1.1 and enter the default username (admin) and the default password (password1). If your Verizon FiOS installer gave you different login credentials, then use those. I had to ask the installer for this info. And although you can customize the router, Verizon will reset it to factor defaults if they have to make a service call.

I navigated to the Parental Control page and tried to create a new rule. Sometimes broken software behaves like broken hardware: all you need to do is turn it on, turn it off, and then it works. But in this case, I could not delete the test rule that I created. Nor could I edit it. The router kept hanging whenever I tried to do so. I did notice that the SurfControl icon that had appeared on the Parental Control page was no longer there. In the fall of 2006 (when I first got FiOS), you got a free trial of SurfControl and then had to pay to keep SurfControl active. Perhaps Verizon struck a deal with SurfControl to provide filtering software for free. Perhaps the deal with SurfControl has been terminated.

QA rule zero: whatever you changed last is what caused the system to break.

I had changed nothing on any computer from the time Gmail last worked until Verizon inexplicably started blocking it (and the rest of my web traffic). So I assume that Verizon changed something that broke my router. Perhaps they were pushing a software update out their FiOS customers. Perhaps a software update related to the SurfControl parental filtering software. When I worked at Verio, we often updated the network over holiday weekends. Then again, we also told our customers what we were doing. And if you called Verio, they had a clue about any problems you discovered. Not so with Verizon.

Keep in mind what I know:

  1. HTTP (port 80) traffic is blocked.
  2. HTTPS (port 443) traffic is not blocked.
  3. Other TCP/IP traffic is not blocked.
  4. Parental filtering software is acting flakey.
  5. I have changed no hardware and no software since everything was last working.

Here’s how my call to Verizon “tech support” went:

ME: My wife logged on this morning and was unable to access Gmail.

VERIZON: What browser did you use?

ME: Firefox. (Note to self: always answer “Internet Explorer” when asked this question.)

VERIZON: Try it with IE now.

ME: OK [said he, trying not to act like he knows infinitely more than the tech support drone]. Nope, still doesn’t work.

VERIZON: Can you access the Internet at all?

ME: I can access Gmail securely via HTTPS but not via HTTP.

VERIZON: That’s a Gmail problem. You’re going to have to contact them for help.

ME: No, no, no. This happens with any website. Even with www.verizon.com. The URL of the error message starts with 192.168.1.1.

VERIZON: That’s not our network.

ME: What? Of course this is your network. This is a VERIZON error message from the Actiontec FiOS router that VERIZON installed. Something is wrong with your router.

VERIZON: That’s not our network. You’re going to have to bypass the router to test the Internet connection.

ME: I already told you that the Internet connection is working. Only certain protocols are being blocked.

VERIZON: We’re not blocking anything.

ME: You are not listening. I’m going to take the phone and bang it on the desk now. [Takes phone off of ear, bangs it on desk, resumes talking.] The Internet is working. I have a separate window open on a secure connection to my office network.

VERIZON: Do you mean you have a VPN?

ME: Well, sort of. It’s a software VPN, VNC over SSH.

VERIZON: That’s an unsupported network configuration. We don’t support VPNs!

ME: What? No! That’s got nothing to do with it. The filtering software on the router is broken. Do you even understand how the Internet works?

And then the Verizon tech support drone hung up on me. Maybe I was being overly optimistic in thinking that I could get an intelligent answer out of Verizon. Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned the magic bad words “VPN” or “blocking” which caused the tech support drone to read another scripted response. One thing was clear. Verizon was completely clueless.

I suspect that Verizon pushed a software update out to my router last night, that the software update had to do with the parental control software provided by SurfControl, that the software update had a bug, and that the result was the parental control software blocked all outbound web traffic. I doubt I’m wrong.

So here’s the solution. Login to your router. If you have customized any settings, then print out those pages (or save them as PDFs). Go to the Advanced page and select “Restore Defaults.” The router will give you a chance to save your config file. Save it. It’s a plain text file and it’s full of good info. Then restore any custom configurations you’ve made. And this will fix the problem.

Happy holidays.

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31 Replies to “* How To Fix Verizon FiOS Internet Service When All HTTP Traffic Is Blocked”

  1. Thank you. Bloody ssh out from my home to the internet wasn’t working. Reset to defaults and it’s ok now. Thanks.

    Hey, what’s up with the 1966 – present? Computers were just big boxes with mag tapes and flashing lights in movies back then.

  2. AJ, why are you ranting at verizon for your computer locking up? That’s not a function of the ISP. It’s also not the ISP’s fault that you have a virus. If you have a virus, it’s the fault of your antivirus software or the lack of it. I’ve had FIOS 50/20 internet for the past 6 years. It has not been down one time. I actually thought it was down one day, however all of the xmas lights I put up flipped a breaker where fios was plugged in (my fault). I would NEVER switch to another ISP!!!!!

  3. I hope someone can help me with the following problem: There is a seminar I access through teamtalk on a weekly basis, and the seminar is broadcasted on ports 80 and 54. I just switched to verizon and can no longer access my seminars. I spent several hours speaking with the reps, I have logged into my router and added the custom ports, verizon rep has played with my firewall settings, he said the I added the ports correctly, he seemed to not know that verizon blocks port 80. Is there someway I can get them to open the port? I absolutely need my seminar! Please help.

  4. You don’t need to use the Actiontec router with FOIS. I have FIOS and I use a D-Link. I don’t even own an Actiontec as I got FIOS before they started using that brand. In fact, you don’t even need to use a router at all with FOIS. You can plug directly into the ONT with a laptop. In fact, I’ve done just that to troubleshoot problems before. It’s your network from the ONT onward. So the tech was correct about the problem being on your end — not theirs. THe very fact that you reset the rounter and that fixed your problem proved that.

  5. How many of you disgrunted have ADT???The way Veriaon patched in to the board makes alot of difference. I’ve found that the ADT board actually needs as filter, but its different from the standard DSL phone connect filter. They can be purchased online through normal means for ~$20. Z-A431PJ31X (Excelsus is most promrnant return)
    Just google it….

  6. Had this happen to me, literally, just a few moments ago.
    Is there any way to reset the settings of the router without having to log in? Would it work if you just did a hard reset as well?

  7. ok so heres the deal im a tier one fios “drone” some agents stick to the script i dont i deal with the problem and get off the phone i am part of the subcontracted jobs out as i do everything and have access to everything a verizon guy does but i work for a contractor company and dont make great money about half what i would if i worked at verizon itself…so heres some tips and suggestions that may help you as if you called into me and most of my fellow agents, 1. if your good to me ill be good to you, if your a dick to me ill be one right back to you and prolly just end up hanging up and either a. fucking up your account and your service…I CAN DO THAT YA KNOW…or just not calling you back everything is recorded but if you worked there long enough and know the ropes you can do whatever you want and not get into trouble, 2. if you get a virus or you dont change the batteries in your remote and your fatass is to lazy to figure out how to program the remote dont blame verizon, 3. the service itself is rocksolid just some of the equipment is shitty esp. the motorola stbs. with them being as complex as they are esp the dvrs like me being able to deactivate and reactivate them and reload them and everything more electronics = more shit breaking like on a car, the routers are also made by the lowest bidder but are actually not that bad, over 90 percent of the calls ive taken is just b/c of stupid people that have no business of owning a tv or a computer for that matter. 4. verizon techs that come to your home are very good at what they do, however they rarely show up on time for repairs or installs and make sure if they do show up they check everything that it works before they leave, verizons deal is pretty simple if its our shit that breaks we fix it or replace it for free if its your shit its gonna cost you prolly out the ass avg about 91 bucks if they roll a truck at a minimun, and no we wont dispatch out for your dumb shit like hooking up your boxes and dvd players to your tv get off your fatass and look at the directions or google it if your still not sure and if after all that you still dont know it do yourself a favor and take your tv and computer out to your front yard dump a bunch of gas over it and burn it all to the fucking ground, you dont need the shit if you dont have a clue to use it get one of those jitterbug cell phones and leave the rest of us alone stop wasting your time and mine. so i believe that concludes my rant for the most part lol so in short the fios service itself is good some of the equipment is shity but hey its still pretty new so youll have that and most of the computer and cant connect errors are stupid people cause, and the golden rule treat those like you wish to be treated esp if those above you have the power to turn off all your shit at the click of a mouse. lol oh and one more thing verizon has a different dept for everything and i mean EVERYTHING!!!! so dont call tech support because you didnt pay your bill you worthless fuck we CANT access your bill and its not our fault your pathetic fatass didnt pay it and when you do pay it it can take as much as 24 hours for all 3 services to come back up just like your bank. we dont have fios in the state i live in but we do have a fsc here to figure…but anyways i cant wait to get fios but im getting the internet and tv only copper wire phone is still way more dependable that fios phone happy hacking!!!

  8. Issue: Hello all, first of all I’m a fios tech guy
    And I’m sorry for hearing the troubles you have had with the service. I confess that Verizon uses contractors and outsource some of the calls to India…so I can agree with you that some reps are not up to par. I have been on the fios project for 4 years now and we actually don’t have tier 1, 2 or 3
    Most of the reps that are real Verizon fios employees are well verse in computer networking and what have you …also most of us make over 50,000 a year….so no drone here..lol
    Please feel free to e-mail me your thoughts
    amitchell27@gmail.com

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