Feeds

China routing snafu briefly mangles interweb

Cockup, not conspiracy

Boost IT visibility and business value

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. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?
They can take our lives, but they'll never take our SPECTRUM
Bring back error correction, say Danish 'net boffins
We don't need no steenkin' TCP/IP retransmission and the congestion it causes
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
NBN Co adds apartments to FTTP rollout
Commercial trial locations to go live in September
Samsung Z Tizen OS mobe is post-phoned – this time for good?
Russian launch for Sammy's non-droid knocked back
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places
Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?
What FTC lawsuit? T-Mobile US touts 10GB, $100 family-of-4 plan
Folks 'could use that money for more important things' says CEO Legere
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.