Published: Thu, November 15, 2018
Electronics | By Kelly Massey

Internet traffic hijack dogs Google

Internet traffic hijack dogs Google

On November 12, Google issued an official statement - "Connectivity issues connecting to Google services including Google APIs, Load balancers, instances and other external IP addresses." followed by another message - "We've received a report of an issue, with Google Cloud Networking as of Monday, 2018-11-12 14:16 US/Pacific".

Simply put, the ISP accidentally let slip details of its routes into Google's network in a way that caused the rest of the 'net to adjust its pathways so Google-bound traffic headed toward China Telecom.

Our analysis indicates that the origin of this leak was the BGP peering relationship between MainOne, the Nigerian provider, and China Telecom. It can also be used to block access to information by sending data requests into internet black holes.

The disruption in Google services was limited to almost an hour.

BGPmon, whose services focus on network monitoring and routing events, said on Twitter that the trouble started when Nigerian ISP MainOne leaked 212 IP prefixes to China Telecom; this led to redirecting the traffic and dropping it. That in turn was picked up by Russia's Transtelecom and other large ISP services. "Overall ThousandEyes detected over 180 prefixes affected by this route leak, which covers a vast scope of Google services", ThousandEyes stated in a blog post.

Google said that no data was harmed or stolen and it has no reason to believe that it was an attack.

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It also "underscores" a weakness of the Internet.

Much of the internet's underpinnings are built on trust, a relic of the good intentions its designers assumed of users.

Although this automates routing the information over the internet, it also leaves room for traffic hijacking that can be malicious when intentional; as it seems to be the case now, the outcome was disrupting Google service due to improper configuration.

Most network traffic to Google services - 94 percent as of October 27 - is encrypted, which shields it from prying eyes even if diverted. Google was briefly afflicted in 2015 when an Indian provider stumbled.

According to media reports, G Suite applications like Gmail and Google Drive were not impacted. In perhaps the best-known case, Pakistan Telecom inadvertently hijacked YouTube's global traffic in 2008 for a few hours when it was trying to enforce a domestic ban. In April 2017, one affected MasterCard and Visa among other sites.

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