Experts say China, in particular, has systematically hijacked and divert USA internet traffic. At the heart of the issue was Nigerian ISP (AS37282) MainOne Cable Company, which leaked the prefixes to China Telecom, a government-owned provider. According to the company, some traffic meant to reach the web giant was misdirected through other networks.
From there, Russian ISP providers, notably TransTelekom, also started messing with Google's IP routes.
It remains unclear whether this was an attack or a misconfiguration at the Nigerian ISP MainOne.
The traffic diversion into China created a detour with a dead end, preventing users from accessing the affected Google services, said Alex Henthorn-Iwane, an executive at the network-intelligence company ThousandEyes.
This bad routing announcement leaked downstream to other ISPs, causing more and more nearby providers to send Google-intended traffic to MainOne's network, instead of the normal BGP routes.
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"This incident at a minimum caused a massive denial of service to G Suite and Google Search", he wrote.
Google also said that none of its servers or data was affected by the incident.
BGP hijacking occurs when groups of IP addresses are taken over by entities that corrupt Internet routing tables maintained using the BGP.BGP hijacking occurs when groups of IP addresses are taken over by entities that corrupt Internet routing tables maintained using the BGP.
Created to assist networks with routing around inaccessible systems, the border gateway protocol (BGP) allows for the broadcast of routing and reachability information for a given autonomous system (AS). It relies on a chain of trust, with routes being advertised by AS and trusted and accepted by its peers.
The issue surfaced Monday afternoon as internet monitoring firms ThousandEyes and BGPmon said some traffic to Alphabet's Google had been routed through China and Russian Federation, raising concerns that the communications had been intentionally hijacked. A verification and filtering mechanism that would protect against both intentional and unintentional mishaps would be a solution for this decade-old problem.
BGP's fragility is well known by the security industry, along with the possibilities of abuse from parties interested in traffic from specific regions of the world.