Initially you might get a harmless popup ad like this, asking you to submit your email id to receive bills through email. But rest assured, more such ads will follow, with some users already complaining about popups asking them to upgrade their plans!
MTNL is using Adphonso to serve these ads and here is what Adphonso describes its services as:
The stunning new technique of advertising on the connected devices, delivers Rich Media Advertisements to potential customer through networks. The solution reads the Machine Details, Browser and OS information and Customer Behaviour along with location and delivers relevant impression. The network architecture is simple and is directly connected to the ISP and hence avoids the need to go to a publisher and buy expensive ad slots.
If you ask me, this is pretty shady stuff with strong implication on your privacy. However we will talk about it later on, for now, let’s see how we can get rid of these pesky popups.
If you have a windows computer, then open windows explorer and navigate to C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc folder. Here you will see hosts file.
Double click on hosts file and chose to open it in notepad. At the end of all the text, enter following:
Here is how it would look like in hosts file.
Now go to file – save and save the hosts file and reboot your system and clear the browser cache if you are still getting popup, though after a reboot it shouldn’t be needed and you should no longer get these popups from MTNL.
If you are unable to save the file in the etc directory, then save it on your desktop or any other folder, then copy it to the etc folder and overwrite the existing hosts file.
While this would work wonderfully on your Windows PC, Adphonso claims to be able to target any device i.e. these popups can soon end up on your mobile phone as well, if MTNL’s greed gets to that level.
So at least in my view, it is best to block this at router level, so that you wouldn’t have to implement this on multiple computers and mobile phones.
In my MTNL router, I can filter URL by navigating to Access Management – Filters and then choosing URL Filter option in front of Filter Type Selection. Then I need to enable URL Filter Editing by choosing yes radio button and enter adphonso.com and 184.108.40.206 in URL Index 1 and 2, as shown below.
In your router URL Filter setting might be located under a different setting, however the option to filter out URLs should be there in most router and at least to me, this is a much more robust and convenient way of keeping MTNL out of my systems.
Coming back to privacy aspect of all this, since MTNL is not only serving these ads to you, but also tracking the websites you visit as well as system details about your computer/tablet/mobile and sharing it with Adphonso and other advertisers, you will likely soon start receiving much more nasty popups filled with ads on all your devices.
And this is when we pay relatively high charges for poor speed and bad service!
Much more worryingly, if MTNL has today stooped to serving popups like these to its paying customers, who knows, tomorrow it might start spamming our email address (which is why I wouldn’t share my email id with them) or might even start redirecting us to different websites, if it sees more profit in such tactic.
Hence I urge all MTNL users to send email to all senior officers of MTNL (email ids can be found here MTNL Delhi and here MTNL Mumbai) and make them aware of your displeasure with this latest tactic of MTNL or better yet, vote with our money and move to an ISP, which does not serves such popups!
Update: It seems MTNL is even pushing these popups on mobile phones and tablets. Furthermore, you might find that at times when you try to open a website, it does not open and in your status bar, it says waiting for 220.127.116.11. This is the ad server of MTNL, and since access to it is now blocked, it is preventing your browser from opening the page. In such a case, it is best to close the browser and reopen it to remedy the problem.
Thanks. This is getting irritating.
Thanks for this. I was really irritated by this. But the potential for invasion of privacy is really alarming. I sure hope that the MTNL guys get some sense and stop this.
They are not going to learn anything. This is why I ditched them several months back and I see they are still doing it. So my guess is, this is going to get even worse.
Thanks Yogesh, But I’m facing another issue after adding the two entries in my Router Filters.
The problem is:
When I open any website or URL in the browser, The page loading stucks and the status bar at the bottom of the broser shows: “Waiting for 18.104.22.168”
I hope you can help me out with this.
Thanks in advance.
Hasseb, unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do in such a case, except close the browser and try again. This is why I dumped MTNL several months ago, and switched to Airtel.
When it says “Waiting for 22.214.171.124” at that time you can hit the cross button in your browser and press the reload page button and it will load the page immediately. I think this way is better then closing the browser.
After, completing the above process, You need to use Technitium TMAC for Windows OS, whenever your connection drops, then, simply change the MAC Address of you network adapter, for added security, keep changing Name of your PC ON A DAILY BASIS+ TMAC, simply right click My Computer or Computer, select Properties, Change the Name of your PC, make sure you insert UNDERSCORE (_), this excludes your DNS from the network, THEN, RESTART YOUR WIN OS PC, THEN, SWITCH ON YOUR MODEM.
I use Zone Alarm Free Firewall with Avast Free Antivirus 2015, Zone Alarm Free Firewall helps you to block “126.96.36.199” by clicking View Zones, then, adding this Host Site “188.8.131.52” & changing the Zone to BLOCK. There is one more way to block IP by using SECPOL.MSC, but, its a bit complicated & SURELY EFFECTIVE.
TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH, CHANGING ISPs’ WON’T HELP BECAUSE ALL ISPs’ ARE MANDATORILY REQUIRED TO SUBMIT ALL YOUR DATA USAGE TO TELECOM DEPARTMENT AT GOI, VISITING PHISHTANK.COM (AN OpenDNS WEBSITE) & POSTING THIS IP “184.108.40.206” WON’T HELP EITHER.
USING VPNs’ LIKE CYBERGHOST & BROWSER BASED VPN LIKE ZENMATE WILL OBFUSCATE YOUR DATA FOR SIMPLY BROWSING THE WEB, BUT, SURELY THESE VPNs’ ARE INEFFECTIVE ON GMAIL, FACEBOOK & TWITTER, WHICH CURATE CONTENT BASED ON YOUR LOCATION IP, TIMESTAMP & ASN. IF YOU VISIT THESE SITES ON THESE VPNs’ YOU MIGHT BE ASKED TO VERIFY YOUR ACCOUNT USING LOCAL PHONE OR CELLPHONE.
Just visit (trasir.com), see all your data is captured by websites.
thanks for the pc workaround. Any idea how to stop this on an android phone? I’ve installed adblocksoftware, tried moving to an openDNS but … no change. I’m really desperate for a solution.
Chhavi, please see the option above to add the filter to your ADSL router/modem. Moving to different DNS server or using a adblock software wouldn’t help, because they are hijacking your sessions and injecting their own code in it.
ACTUALLY, THIS IS DONE DELIBERATELY BY GOVERNMENTS’ WORLDWIDE INCLUDING INDIA, BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE MISUSING TECHNOLOGY, THEY ARE CONNECTING WITH ORGANIZATIONS LIKE ISIS, JOINING THEM ONLINE, SPREADING HATRED & FEAR AMONG CITIZENS’, SO, IN A WAY, IT HAS SOME POSITIVE IMPACT AS FAR AS NATIONAL SECURITY IS CONCERNED.
Vince there is a difference between governments spying and an ISP indulging in unscrupulous methods to make money. In fact this is similar to what Lenovo recently did.
Hey yogesh, how do I go the mtnl router access window you are showing in the snapshot above.
This has really got annoying as since past few days we have been getting really nasty ads on our browsers.
MS, you can access router interface by type 192.168.1.1 in your browser address bar. Then you will have to login with username and password for the router, generally username is admin and default password is either ”admin” or “password”. MTNL employee might have changed the router password at the time of installation and given you on a piece of paper. If you can’t find that, contact MTNL for help.
In case your password is one of the default ones, make sure to change to something more secure, otherwise you will be easy prey to anyone attempting to hack your connection.
Hi. On my MTNL router I do not have filter selection, showing only IP filter.
thank you so much for this article Yogesh. I am facing the same issues as mentioned above on my mac. I would be grateful if you could advise apple users mac & iPhone to block Adphonso and the others.
Sorry, I do not have access to Mac or iPhone, so I do not know how to change settings in them.
I have created a reply for them You can copy & paste them. You can find their email IDs from these links.
ED / GM / PGM / CE,
15th floor, Telephone House,
MTNL Road, Prabhadevi, Dadar (West),
Mumbai – 400 028
Dear Respected Sir,
I am a customer of MTNL for many years.
For Last Many months I am getting ads on my Web Browser from MTNL (I have attached screen shot of the same). After further Investigation I came to know that you are
1. Injecting data (Ads) in the requested information, which means you are altering the information.
2. You are collecting my
a. Machine details
b. Browser Details
c. OS Information
d. My Behaviour
e. And My location
Without my approval or knowledge which means you are spying on my searches.
3. You are collecting all my data for financial benefits.
4. You are breaching my Privacy by collecting my search & behaviour pattern.
5. These ads are affecting my speed of access which I pay for.
I expect you to take required measures & Stop these shady practices of breaching my privacy.
Thanks bro, this was useful. Doesn’t look like its going away anytime soon.
another ip to add 220.127.116.11 because now they are serving ads from different IPs ( Getting ad served from