On June 6, more than 70,000 BGP routes were leaked from Swiss colocation company Safe Host to China Telecom in Frankfurt, Germany, which then announced them on the global internet. This resulted in a massive rerouting of internet traffic via China Telecom systems in Europe, disrupting connectivity for netizens: a lot of data that should have gone to European cellular networks was instead piped to China Telecom-controlled boxes.
BGP leaks are common – they happen every hour of every day – though the size of this one and particularly the fact it lasted for two hours, rather than seconds or minutes, has prompted more calls for ISPs to join an industry program that adds security checks to the routing system.
The fact that China Telecom, which peers with Safe House, was again at the center of the problem – with traffic destined for European netizens routed through its network – has also made internet engineers suspicious, although they have been careful not to make any accusations without evidence.
“China Telecom, a major international carrier, has still implemented neither the basic routing safeguards necessary both to prevent propagation of routing leaks nor the processes and procedures necessary to detect and remediate them in a timely manner when they inevitably occur,” noted Oracle Internet Intelligence’s (OII) director of internet analysis Doug Madory in a report. “Two hours is a long time for a routing leak of this magnitude to stay in circulation, degrading global communications.”