Cogent Blocked By ARIN For Spamming Users

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Cogent has a seemingly neverending list of scandals surrounding its company, the latest of which sees ARIN lose its temper and ban Cogent from accessing its WHOIS database.

But who is Cogent, you ask? Well, they are the third largest Internet connectivity provider in the world. You probably haven’t heard of them, but that’s okay, because Cogent mainly provide their services to data centres, large network operators and big Internet Service Providers. We’re talking about connections from 1Gb/s and upwards – 10Gb, 25Gb, 50Gb, 100Gb and even more.

In a PDF statement released by ARIN – the American Registry for Internet Numbers – who control IP address space for the US region, Cogent have been blocked from accessing ARIN’s WHOIS database for frequently abusing it to cold-call potential customers. A WHOIS database contains key contact information for IP address space holders/leasers and network operators, which are of course Cogent’s ideal sales target. It is strictly against ARIN’s policy to use this contact information for advertising or marketing purposes, which Cogent have been suspected of doing for a very long time.

ARIN stated that their legal team reached out to Cogent in August and September 2019, however Cogent didn’t even bother to acknowledge receipt of the letters or emails. Still, the complaints of cold-call sales tactics continued to roll in to ARIN, who finally decided on 6th January 2020 that enough was enough and blocked Cogent from accessing its database.

Anthony of ISP-Backbone Ltd comments:
“We are frequently contacted by Cogent sales reps who try to sell us their services. We have never expressed interest in Cogent nor given them any of our contact details, yet they persistently call and email us on channels we only publish on our WHOIS. We don’t get this from any other connectivity provider, so it’s about time they were stopped. Needless to say I’m delighted by ARIN’s decision.”

Anthony notes that while this is great progress to stop Cogent’s abusive sales tactics, it’s unfortunately only one step of many. Cogent still have access to WHOIS data at other regional IP registries including AFRINIC (for Africa), RIPE (for Europe), APNIC (for APAC) and LACNIC (for South America), so all of these other RIRs will need to follow ARIN’s lead and block Cogent from their WHOIS to have a true global impact.

This is far from the first scandal that Cogent has found itself wound up in. Cogent have a long-standing feud with fellow connectivity provider Hurricane Electric, and as such, have no direct routes between their network. Worse still, IPv6 connectivity between Cogent and HE is completely impossible. Cogent also had a spat with Google in 2016, who de-peered Cogent from their IPv6 network, forcing Cogent to use competitors’ networks to reach Google instead.

ARIN’s blockade will no doubt have a great impact on Cogent’s sales team, but it will also affect Cogent’s Network Engineers and Technicians from going about their daily business too. Question is, will it have enough impact for Cogent to retreat and apologise for their shady behaviour?

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