Feeds

China routing snafu briefly mangles interweb

Cockup, not conspiracy

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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. ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
Microsoft unsheathes cheap Android-killer: Behold, the Lumia 530
Say it with us: I'm King of the Landfill-ill-ill-ill
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
Oh girl, you jus' didn't: Level 3 slaps Verizon in Netflix throttle blowup
Just hook us up to more 10Gbps ports, backbone biz yells in tit-for-tat spat
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
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.