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Virgin Media CUTS OFF weekend 'net surfers after embarrassing smut-filtering snafu

Web Safe FAIL kills access to loads of 'respectable' sites

Virgin Media customers were hit by an annoying network cockup on Saturday, after the cable company's smut-filtering Web Safe system stupidly blocked lots of websites.

Subscribers complained about the snafu on Twitter, where many people claimed that they could barely access anything over Virgin Media's network.

Reg reader Red Bren alerted us to the blunder on Saturday night.

"My Virgin Media broadband has stopped working due to an SSL error on the Web Safe server," he told us.

"What's annoying is that I haven't opted in to their Web Safe service, but all my traffic is now being routed through it. Or rather [it] isn't because it's broken. I also can't check my Web Safe opt-out status as the site is experiencing issues."

In a follow-up email to Vulture Weekend this morning, Brendan added that he had called VM's support team to complain about the technical snag, only to hear an automated message advising him to reboot his router.

He told the Reg:

On further investigation I discovered VM's DNS service was resolving everything to their Web Safe server address, but the server itself wasn't responding. Eventually they put up an "Essential Maintenance" message. By using a different DNS service, I was able to work around the problem.

What was annoying was that I've already opted out of the service. I don't want to be pestered on a regular basis to opt in. It reflects badly on VM when they effectively perform a Distributed Denial-of-Service on their customers by redirecting all traffic to the same server.

In the past few hours, Virgin Media has apologised to a number of customers, after its Web Safe system blocked sites by mistake.

Liberty Global-owned Virgin Media was the last of Britain's Big Four ISPs to switch on its network-level filters, which allow subscribers to prevent perfectly legal material such as pornography from being accessed on their broadband connections.

The Web Safe system, which uses DNS-filtering technology, went live for new VM customers in February. ®

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