Using Traceroute to learn some interesting facts about your URL/ IP Address of interest or your Internet Service Provider.

The internet is a bit like a convoluted network of highways as in there is always more than one way to get to your desired location. Internet Protocol networks, by its very nature are designed to find the path of least resistance to your internet resource. Resistance is usually determined by the availability of bandwidth in a given path at a given time; just like how crowded a road can be.

The traceroute command (tracert on Windows) can be a useful tool in determining the IP addresses of the numerous routers that your request has to pass through, to get your desired resource. A router is a node on the internet, where many networks connect, just like a junction on a road.

But imagine, if you could get the metadata of the IP addresses of these routers, such as owner, ISP, location etc. what could it tell you about the resource you wish to look up?

In this article, I hope to walk you through a couple of examples to spark your curiosity in Traceroute.

University of Moratuwa (URL: uom.lk)

192.168.1.1

This is the IP address of my Fibre To The Home (FTTH) router, which connects all my internet capable devices.

100.88.0.1

This is the IP address of the Optical Line Terminating Equipment (OLT) that I am connected to. Note that the lack of meta data for both this and the previous IP address, shows that these are internal IP addresses. Only users in Sri Lanka Telecom’s Fiber network should know about them.

198.51.100.18 / 198.51.100.17

Despite these IP addresses showing up as Romanian ones, their ping duration gives off a different story. These could potentially be another pair of Sri Lanka Telecom’s internal IP addresses. The thing to note here is that, not all open-source data on IP addresses is accurate.

222.165.177.92/222.165.177.89/222.165.177.14

These IP addresses clearly belong to Sri Lanka Telecom, as the metadata suggests. Note the first 3 numbers of the IP address being the same.

192.248.1.8 / 192.248.8.120

These IP addresses belong to the Lanka Education and Research Network (LERN), which is Sri Lanka’s education and research network, that connects all academic and research institutions in Sri Lanka; just like JANET does in the UK.

192.248.8.87

This is the IP address for the University of Moratuwa website (uom.lk).

The University of Sheffield(URL: sheffield.ac.uk)

103.87.125.253/103.87.124.245

Note the vast difference in ping duration between the two IP Addresses, which a both owned by Sri Lanka Telecom. Are both of these routers located in Sri Lanka? Are both of them part of the Fiber Backbone?

62.115.49.125

This is where Sri Lanka Telecom connects with Telia Company AB in Paris, France.

146.97.35.193/146.97.33.62

The 146.97.35 and the 146.97.33 are reserved for the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) which hosts the UK’s academic and research network JANET.

143.167.2.102

No prizes for guessing, but this is the IP address for the University of Sheffield (sheffield.ac.uk) , as correctly described by the open-sourced metadata.

Conclusion

As much as you could learn about your destination URL, there is a lot you could learn about your Internet Service Provider (ISP) too. Things such as how your ISP routes local and international requests, and requests to countries that are outside your Tier 1 Fibre Backbone (as in there is no direct Under Sea Fibre optic cable link between your country and the country of request).

If you are further curious about traceroutes, why don’t you give Cloudflare’s WARP protocol a try. You can download the tool from here (Link: https://1.1.1.1/). Try the same URLs and see how your requests are routed differently. This might also teach you a thing or two about privacy and how ISPs can use your URL requests as a tool to spy on you.

If you are interested in using the tool I used for my traceroutes exploration, I will post a link below, as soon as I get to package the tool.

Robotics Engineer from Kolonnawa, Sri Lanka. Lived in 4 different countries and been to 6. Programing: C, C++, C# and Python (beginner at Rust).