Traceroute: visualizing web detours

For my traceroute project I ran traceroute to sites I commonly visit as well as sites I thought would be interesting to route, from places I usually connect to the internet. I downloaded iNetTools for my phone to run traceroute from my phone.  I wrote a short python script to get the geolocations for each of the hops from ipinfo and output the traceroute, company, and geographic information to a csv file.

I made a website that shows the starting points of my searches: my apartment, the Aarons’ apartment, NYU (work & school), and my commute. When you click on one of the starting points, you get options of where to navigate, but instead of ending up at the site, you end up at some weird intermediary–the company, or one of the hops along the way.

Some things I noticed

  • From my cellphone, packets bounced around the Sprint network in New York, then went to Summit, New Jersey, before being routed to their endpoints.
  • From my apartment, traffic travelled to Bethpage, NY and then Wingdale, NY (Cablevision).
  • From Aaron’s apartment, packets travelled through various Time Warner locations (Englewood, CO, Austin, TX, Los Angeles & Beverly Hills, CA) before being routed to their endpints.
  • From NYU, packets bounced around the NYU network before being routed through TATA or sometimes, Level3.
  • From Aaron’s Verizon hotspot, packets travelled through Cellco and Telia.
  • Encrypted google hopped to Mountain View, and then would sometimes hop to Seattle before hopping back.
  • CIA and NSA site sometimes took strange routes outside when I navigated from my apartment–to Germany. I compared their paths to that of healthcare.gov, a more innocuous government website to see the difference, and the the endpoint was consistent (Akamai in Massachusetts). NSA and CIA took domestic roots to a Time Warner or Akamai endpoint in Massachusetts.
  • I discovered Internet2 and NYSERNet, which you sometimes pass through leaving NYU. They are both non-profit ISPs.
  • I wasn’t sure if the geographic locations I was getting from ipinfo were right–but when I cross-referenced with the service providers associated with the IP, they usually had a location within a 5 mile radius of the listed geo-coordinates.