Feeds

China routing snafu briefly mangles interweb

Cockup, not conspiracy

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Bad routing information sourced from China has disrupted the internet for the second time in a fortnight.

Global BGP (Border Gateway Routing) lookup tables sucked in data from a small ISP called IDC China Telecommunication, apparently accidentally broadcast by state-owned carrier China Telecommunications, IDG reports. ISPs including AT&T, France Telcom, Level3, Deutsche Telekom, Qwest and Telefonica accepted ill-thought out traffic routes as a result of the incident.

BGP is a core routing protocol which maps options for the best available routes for traffic to flow across the net. Several routing options are normally included. The China BGP incident is the internet routing equivalent of TomTom publishing routes via Shanghai for motorists looking for alternative routes between London and Paris.

IDC China Telecommunication published ill-conceived routes for between 32,000 and 37,000 networks - about 10 per cent of the net - instead of the normal 40 or so routes, and this information was taken as viable routing options by many service providers for about 20 minutes early on Thursday morning (US time) after China Telecommunications republished it and before the mix-up was resolved. Routers in Asia would have been more likely to adopt the false routes as potentially viable, but effects of the incident were recorded all over the world.

BGPmon.net, a BGP monitoring service, has a detailed technical write-up of the snafu, which it described as a prefix hijack, here.

Although it seems they [IDC China Telecommunication] have leaked a whole table, only about 10 per cent of these prefixes propagated outside of the Chinese network. These include prefixes for popular websites such as dell.com, cnn.com, www.amazon.de, www.rapidshare.com and www.geocities.jp.

A large number of networks impacted this morning were actually Chinese networks. These include some popular Chinese website such as www.joy.cn , www.pconline.com.cn , www.huanqiu.com, www.tianya.cn and www.chinaz.com

A cock-up is suspected, rather than a conspiracy, at least by BGPmon.net.

Given the large number of prefixes and short interval I don’t believe this is an intentional hijack. Most likely it’s because of configuration issue, i.e. fat fingers. But again, this is just speculation.

The practical consequences of the screw-up are still being assessed but it could have resulted in dropped connections or, worse, traffic routed through unknown systems in China. The mess provides one of the clearest illustrations of the security shortcomings of BGP, a somewhat obscure but nonetheless important network protocol.

The China BGP global routing represents a rare but not unprecedented mix-up in global internet traffic management. For example, just two weeks ago bad routing data resulted in the redirection of Chilean internet traffic through a DNS (Domain Name System) server in China, as explained in a detailed post-mortem by internet monitoring firm Renesys here. Bad BGP routing information from Pakistan caused YouTube to briefly drop off the net back in 2008. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
Broadband sellers in the UK are UP TO no good, says Which?
Speedy network claims only apply to 10% of customers
Virgin Media struck dumb by NATIONWIDE packet loss balls-up
Turning it off and on again fixes glitch 12 HOURS LATER
Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle!
Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
Soz, web devs: Google snatches its Wallet off the table
Killing off web service in 3 months... but app-happy bonkers are fine
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.