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Customers of UK ISP TalkTalk Suffer Mass Website Blocking Bug

Thursday, April 1st, 2021 (8:07 am) - Score 24,264

Some of TalkTalk’s UK home broadband ISP customers have suddenly found themselves unable to access lots of different websites (e.g. social media sites, the National Lottery and many more) after the internet provider’s network-level HomeSafe filter for “blocking inappropriate content” suddenly enabled itself, and wouldn’t disable.

At present the provider gives customers the option to enable HomeSafe if they so wish, which features three network-level web filter settings – ‘Virus Alert‘, ‘KidSafe‘ and ‘Homework‘ – these can block social networking, gambling, video games and other websites at specific times, as well as the ability to block individual sites.

Customers who are parents will often enable some or all of these, but this week something odd happened. Many of those who had selected to leave the HomeSafe filters disabled suddenly found that it was being applied to their connection by default again and this time the usual means of disabling it had no impact.

The community forum on TalkTalk’s website has naturally seen quite a few complaints about this over the past few days (examples here, here, here and here).

Sample Complaint by Julieboydellis:

“So randomly today I’m now unable to access sites such as National lottery, sky bet etc. Although I could yesterday :thinking_face:

I apparently have kid safe turned on … I don’t!!

I’ve gone in and turned it on then off but no luck. Please could someone help?”

Sample Complaint by Madness:

“I’m sudden unable to access gambling websites even though Home Safe and Scam Protection are switched off.

Have spoken to customer service for the last 2 hours who asked me to switch home safe off, activate it and manually input web addresses to allow access – but none of this worked.

I have never had this problem before and I could access any website I wanted when I used the internet last week on Friday.

Any help would be much appreciated to resolve this asap.”

Sample Complaint by Doco-447:

“This issue of sites being blocked by kidsafe/homesafe is also affecting me. Even though I have both turned OFF. You can go ahead and add me to the incident list too. Thx.”

In some cases, customers report that the issue went away after they performed the classic ‘turn it off and on again‘ (power cycle) trick to reset TalkTalk’s router (it’s recommend to leave it powered down for 30 minutes), but in other cases the bug simply returned again the very next day.

A potentially related Service Status message was issued by the ISP yesterday morning, which said: “We’re aware that some customers are currently unable to access certain websites such as: Teamviewer, PcAnywhere, Anydesk,” albeit without mentioning HomeSafe. An additional update was posted last night: “We’d like to apologise for the inconvenience caused by this and assure you we’re investigating the matter as a priority.”

We’ve requested an update from TalkTalk on the issue and will update again later. In the meantime one temporary fix is to adopt a custom DNS server, such as Google’s Public DNS, OpenDNS or one of many other options (this requires a small amount of technical knowledge to change two numbers for the primary and secondary DNS servers on your router or operating system software).

UPDATE 12:09pm

We’ve received the following update.

A TalkTalk spokesperson said:

“We are aware of an issue where a small number of customers using our Homesafe service have been experiencing issues accessing some websites. Our engineers have been working through the night and have now identified the issue and service will be restored for all customers today.”

The spokesperson seems to overlook that the issue has also hit those who don’t use HomeSafe.

Leave a Comment
21 Responses
  1. Richard says:

    Thanks Mark

  2. Gigabit says:

    Had the same issue.

    Just change your DNS on the router/device and the issue will go away. Frankly the TalkTalk DNS is rubbish anyway. is much quicker

    1. New_Londoner says:

      I’d be cautious about using quad 1 for DNS as it does not offer any form of malware blocking – if you must use Cloudflare try instead.

  3. Steve says:

    “We’re aware that some customers are currently unable to access certain websites such as: Teamviewer, PcAnywhere, Anydesk,”

    We’ve found Teamviewer hasn’t worked on Talktalk for months.

  4. Ibrahim says:

    The problem is ongoing. Sites are still blocking now (e.g.. nationwide.co.uk).

    Judging by the huge volume of forum complaints – and they are just the ones complaining publicly – it is not a “small number” of people, as TalkTalk would have us believe.

    This is the final straw for me, I can’t endure this thoroughly incompetent outfit any longer.

  5. Malcolm Benn says:

    I’ve been with Talktalk for a year now and not experienced 1 single issue ever

    1. Richard says:

      Been with them for years.
      If I have a problem I just email the CEO

    2. T says:

      @richard you and him besties? You got his Snapchat?

  6. Jerry says:

    Brought to you by the same people who oversee the NHS COVID-19 App?

    1. Matt says:

      Talk Talk don’t oversee it.

      If you’re referring to Harding, she left 3+ years ago!

  7. marcus hough says:

    My TV keeps saying boot server and my TV box keeps saying full storage no idea why, could this be related, sorry I’m not a techy.

  8. Gsm workshop LTD says:

    Am using talktalk for years but in few days I also noticed the parent controlling not disabled however I blocked the Games and some web site.

    This is genuine news and talk should fix this

  9. André says:

    What does powering the router down for 30 minutes do that powering it down for 30 seconds doesn’t?
    Surely settings are either in volatile storage (in which case they’re immediately wiped) or in non-volatile storage (in which case 30 minutes or 30 hours makes no difference)?

    1. Jim says:

      Turning off the router for 30 minutes, then turning it on, will give you a different public IP address on the internet.

    2. André says:

      Ah, hadn’t thought of that 🙂

      Thank you!

  10. Coleynova says:

    Talk talk DNS has been flakey for month’s. I finally gave up and replaced the router so I could set my own DNS servers as you can’t do it with the crappy one they provide

    1. Martin says:

      Every TT router I’ve had allows you to change the DNS.

  11. Simon says:

    Change to a VPN service such as Private VPN so you have a huge choice of servers to pick ftom

  12. Val Paynter says:

    Why can’t I log into food shopping

  13. Irene Saville says:

    I can’t get into my aol emails. Aol and Talktalk are sister companies, it said I needed to verify my password and I did this to find I still can’t get into mail. Is this the reason why I can’t sort it out?

  14. martin hoey says:

    i cant get onto talktalk.co.uk or the .gov tax/sorn my car sites…everything else seems fine. tried changing dns on router and pc with no result

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