Indosat routing error impacts few but hits Akamai, Chevron

The telecommunications company mistakenly tried to lay claim to two-thirds of the world's networks

A routing error by one of Indonesia's largest telecommunications providers on Wednesday made it briefly appear it controlled a large swath of the Internet, according to monitoring firm Renesys.

A technical change made it appear Indosat controlled some 320,000 of 500,000 networks on the Internet for about two hours, wrote Earl Zmijewski, a vice president and general manager for Renesys, on a company blog.

The problem was quickly corrected but still caused problems for companies such as Akamai and Chevron, Zmijewski wrote. It also caused a flood of traffic to hit Indosat's network.

ISPs and telecommunication providers publish public data on their networks that is used in routers to direct Internet traffic. That data is distributed to other providers using BGP (Border Gateway Protocol), a specification for exchanging such information.

BGP data changes are "announced" and then picked up by other network providers. But errors in BGP data can cause websites and networks to be unreachable. If an ISP claims through BGP to own another provider's routes, all traffic could be redirected to the ISP rather than to the legitimate operator.

BGP is designed to ensure Internet traffic flows correctly. But Zmijewski wrote one of its problems is that the data is not authenticated or validated, which means an innocent mistake -- or a malicious attack -- can have far-reaching effects.

"Internet routing allows you to lay claim to any network you want," Zmijewski wrote.

The most drastic effect of Indosat's error was on networks run by Akamai, which runs a large content delivery network. "Several hundred" of the routes announced by Indosat were picked up by Akamai, Zmijewski wrote.

A network run by the energy company, Chevron, in London also began directing traffic to Indonesia as well networks belonging to Stan Telecom of Afghanistan and the city of Santa Monica in California, he wrote.

Most of the several hundred thousand networks that Indosat laid claim to were only minimally affected. BGP changes don't take effect immediately. Renesys estimated that less than five percent of the networks it monitors picked up Indosat's BGP's changes.

But Zmijewski wrote the incident underscores weaknesses in how Internet traffic is routed.

"In short: route leak events like this one, which happen at least once a year, are a good reminder that BGP routing is fragile and error-prone," Zmijewski wrote. "There are no easy fixes."

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securityIndosatRenesys

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?