A few years ago I got cornered by an enthusiastic academic praising the beauties of his cryptography-based system that would (after replacing the whole Internet) solve all the supposed woes we’re facing with BGP today.
His ideas were technically sound, but probably won’t ever see widespread adoption – it doesn’t matter if you have great ideas if there’s not enough motivation to implementing them (The Myths of Innovation is a mandatory reading if you’re interested in these topics).
I was listening to a nice podcast with Nick Buraglio discussing the recent BGP hijack SNAFU impacting Cloudflare (and their reaction) and while I usually totally agree with Nick, I think that he tried to be way too nice when saying (paraphrasing) “I think Cloudflare was a bit harsh - I would prefer a more community-oriented approach along the lines of how could we help you do your job better”
Every now and then a smart person decides to walk away from their competence zone, and start spreading pointless clickbait opinions like BGP is a hot mess.
Like any other technology, BGP is just a tool with its advantages and limitations. And like any other tool, BGP can be used sloppily… and that’s what’s causing the various problems and shenanigans everyone is talking about.
Just in case you might be interested in facts instead of easy-to-digest fiction:
As I explained in How Networks Really Work and Upcoming Internet Challenges webinars, routing security, and BGP security in particular remain one of the unsolved challenges we’ve been facing for decades (see also: what makes BGP a hot mess).
Fortunately, due to enormous efforts of a few persistent individuals BGP RPKI is getting traction (NTT just went all-in), and Flavio Luciani and Tiziano Tofoni decided to do their part creating an excellent in-depth document describing BGP RPKI theory and configuration on Cisco- and Juniper routers.
There are only two things you have to do:
- Read the document;
- Implement RPKI in your network.
Thank you, the Internet will be grateful.
This podcast introduction was written by Nick Buraglio, the host of today’s podcast.
As we all know, BGP runs the networked world. It is a protocol that has existed and operated in the vast expanse of the internet in one form or another since early 1990s, and despite the fact that it has been extended, enhanced, twisted, and warped into performing a myriad of tasks that one would never have imagined in the silver era of internetworking, it has remained largely unchanged in its operational core.
The world as we know it would never exist without BGP, and because of the fact that it is such a widely deployed protocol with such a solid track record of “just working”, the transition to a better security model surrounding it has been extraordinarily slow to modernize.
Corey Quinn mentioned me in a tweet linking to AWS announcement that they are the biggest user of BGP RPKI (by the size of signed address space) worldwide. Good for them – I’m sure it got their marketing excited. It’s also trivial to do once you have the infrastructure in place. Just saying…
On a more serious front: how important is RPKI and what misuses can it stop?
If you’ve never heard of RPKI, the AWS blog post is not too bad, Nick Matthews wrote a “look grandma, this is how it works” version in 280-character installments, and you should definitely spend some time exploring MANRS resources. Here’s a short version for differently-attentive ;))