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Interdomain Routing & IPv6 News
An article I wrote for the Noction blog looking at possible attacks using the BGP community attribute.
A while ago, RIPE Labs published the two-part article BGP Communities – A Weapon for the Internet. That may have been a bit of a shock for those of us making good use of BGP community attributes as an important tool in our BGP arsenal.
This community-based attack is definitely something we need to be prepared for and defend against. But does this warrant considering BGP communities “a weapon for the internet”? That seems a bit extreme.
Treat your BGP communities with respect, you don’t want to encounter their dark side.
Recently, Cloudflare launched Is BGP safe yet?. And they immediately answer their own question: No.
What they're getting at is RPKI deployment. RPKI is a mechanism that lets the owner of a block of IP addresses specify which network gets to use those addresses. (Which AS gets to originate a prefix, in BGP speak.) RPKI protects to some forms of (mostly accidental) address hijacking. But for RPKI to work, the address owner needs to publish a "route origination authorization" (ROA) and networks around the globe need to filter based on these ROAs.
Five years ago, I wrote that RPKI is ready for real-world deployment. So where are we now? The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has a very nice RPKI deployment monitor, showing the following graph:
So globally, for just about 20% of all prefixes (address blocks) RPKI checks out (valid). For a little less than a percent, the way the address block is routed is not in agreement with the ROA (invalid). For the remaining nearly 80% of prefixes, no ROA is published (not-found). However, these numbers are different in various parts of the world:
These numbers show how many address owners are publishing ROAs. This is very easy to do. Here in the RIPE region, it's just a few clicks in the LIR portal. The harder part is filtering based on RPKI. For this you need validator software, for which there are now several choices, and then you need to hook up the validator to your routers, explained here for Cisco and here for Juniper.
For some time, I feared networks would hesitate to filter out prefixes with the RPKI state "invalid", because there's still several thousand prefixes that are invalid. However, it now looks like there are enough big networks doing this that the onus of working around the resulting breakage is correctly put on the address owners / networks that cause the "invalid" state rather than the networks doing the filtering.
The RPKI Observatory has a list of prefixes that have the RPKI invalid state and are therefore unreachable with RPKI filtering enabled. The Route Views collector now also has RPKI, letting you check the state of individual prefixes (telnet route-views.oregon-ix.net). Or use the NLNOG RING looking glass.
This is a post that I wrote for the Noction blog:
Like other very successful protocols such as HTTP and DNS, over the years BGP has been given more and more additional jobs to do. In this blog post, we’ll look at the new functionality and new use cases that have been added to BGP over the years. These include various uses of BGP in enterprise networks and data centers.
Recently, I've been looking a bit at BGP in datacenters, and it's really interesting to see how BGP is used in such different ways than it is for global inter-domain routing.
My Books: "BGP" and "Running IPv6"On this page you can find more information about my book "BGP". Or you can jump immediately to chapter 6, "Traffic Engineering", (approx. 150kB) that O'Reilly has put online as a sample chapter. Information about the Japanese translation can be found here.
More information about my second book, "Running IPv6", is available here.
BGP SecurityBGP has some security holes. This sounds very bad, and of course it isn't good, but don't be overly alarmed. There are basically two problems: sessions can be hijacked, and it is possible to inject incorrect information into the BGP tables for someone who can either hijack a session or someone who has a legitimate BGP session.
Session hijacking is hard to do for someone who can't see the TCP sequence number for the TCP session the BGP protocol runs over, and if there are good anti-spoofing filters it is even impossible. And of course using the TCP MD5 password option (RFC 2385) makes all of this nearly impossible even for someone who can sniff the BGP traffic.
Nearly all ISPs filter BGP information from customers, so in most cases it isn't possible to successfully inject false information. However, filtering on peering sessions between ISPs isn't as widespread, although some networks do this. A rogue ISP could do some real damage here.
There are now two efforts underway to better secure BGP:
The IETF RPSEC (routing protocol security) working group is active in this area.
What is BGPexpert.com?BGPexpert.com is a website dedicated to Internet routing issues. What we want is for packets to find their way from one end of the globe to another, and make the jobs of the people that make this happen a little easier.
Ok, but what is BGP?Have a look at the "what is BGP" page. There is also a list of BGP and interdomain routing terms on this page.
BGP and MultihomingIf you are not an ISP, your main reason to be interested in BGP will probably be to multihome. By connecting to two or more ISPs at the same time, you are "multihomed" and you no longer have to depend on a single ISP for your network connectivity.
This sounds simple enough, but as always, there is a catch. For regular customers, it's the Internet Service Provider who makes sure the rest of the Internet knows where packets have to be sent to reach their customer. If you are multihomed, you can't let your ISP do this, because then you would have to depend on a single ISP again. This is where the BGP protocol comes in: this is the protocol used to carry this information from ISP to ISP. By announcing reachability information for your network to two ISPs, you can make sure everybody still knows how to reach you if one of those ISPs has an outage.
For those of you interested in multihoming in IPv6 (which is pretty much impossible at the moment), have a look at the "IPv6 multihoming solutions" page.
Are you a BGP expert? Take the test to find out!
These questions are somewhat Cisco-centric. We now also have another set of questions and answers for self-study purposes.
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