Featured Software
April 2017
by Dan Delong

Open Visual Traceroute

When downloading software, I may wish to know where it is coming from. Some countries are more prone to attaching malware during installs, than are others. Sometimes, I just want to know if a webpage request travelled through a hub in the United States, before finally getting a result from the home server.

Open Visual Traceroute

Paths are shown on a 3D World map (2D for lower end machines), much like airline travel routes. The software also includes a packet sniffer, and a Who Is lookup, (for seeing the data being exchanged and for finding out who owns these domains).

Open Visual Traceroute

Figure 1 Google.com - traceroute travelled over 10,000 kilometres and through three Unknown IPs

[Those willing to contribute to an investigative effort by University of Toronto researchers, with respect to United States snooping on Internet traffic, and loss of Canadian sovereignty, may wish to try this link.]

An alert popped up, while installing Open Visual Traceroute, guiding me through the installation of a required packet sniffing program, called "WinPcap". WinPcap will, henceforth, start automatically on boot. Open Visual Traceroute completes its installation only after the initial installation of WinPcap.

Open Visual Traceroute

Open Visual Traceroute

Open Visual Traceroute

Built-in tools also include a screen capture, text / data capture, along with a permanent activity log and the ability to clear recent history.

Open Visual Traceroute

Figure 2 Open Visual Traceroute Help Hints - colour coded

Some of the nodes found on a Facebook or Google routing map were "Unknowns", yet a Who Is shows proper ownership of these domains. Facebook takes a jump to Ireland, while Microsoft takes the longest time to investigate its numerous bounces, never actually resolving to a final destination. Once the request hits Redmond, the Who Is search becomes a blank page. The Government of Canada (and CBC) traceroute also bounced through a few blank nodes until landing on a server in Cambridge, in the United States. Our Ontario government route travels a similar path, not resolving for while, then landing in Ashburn (on an Amazon server) in the United States, and continuing to "some where" eventually... possibly. Perhaps these unresolved hits are on the main root DNS servers. Tracing the United States Government, from Canada, also lands on an Amazon server in Toronto, followed by the same in Ashburn, USA (near Washington, D.C.).

Open Visual Traceroute

Figure 3 My traceroute for loading a web page hosted by Squarespace, in New York, traveled nearly 9,000 kilometres

A little research on Ashburn, North Virginia, shows it to be the headquarters for Amazon Web Services, closely linked to US intelligence services. No surprise there. Wikipedia's main servers, along with many other big players, are located in Ashburn's server farms. However, in 2015, a new recursive DNS server infrastructure was installed in Cambridge, which is able to function in case of root server failure. IXmaps indicates that the NSA intercepts internet traffic at / near Cambridge and Ashburn, through Verizon and AT&T. By the way, AT&T and Verizon also operate servers in Toronto.

System requirements:

Platform: Windows all (requires Java and WinPcap - a free packet sniffer), Linux and Mac

Version: version 1.6.5 as at February 2, 2017

Price: Free

Language: English, French, Dutch, Chinese

Download Size: 29.1 MB

Installed Size: 88 MB


Download Site: here.