A global effort to beef up the security of the Internet's routing infrastructure just gained more firepower with several big-name content delivery network (CDN) and cloud service providers now pledging to help clean up errant or malicious routing information passing through the network.
Akamai, Amazon Web Services, Azion, Cloudflare, Facebook, and Netflix have joined the Internet Society-backed Mutually Agreed Norms for Routing Security (MANRS) initiative that launched six years ago to advance the security and resiliency of the Internet's routing infrastructure. To date, nearly 300 network operators and 48 Internet exchange points are part of the effort, including AT&T, Comcast, CenturyLink, Sky, and VeriSign. Google and Microsoft, which are members as well, now also are working on the CDN-cloud side of the effort.
Network providers with MANRS pledge to perform filtering, anti-spoofing, and validation, and they will coordinate with other providers. CDN members commit to several similar security practices, including preventing propagation of incorrect routing information, preventing traffic from spoofed or illegitimate IP addresses, facilitating routing information validation worldwide as well as MANRS adoption, and providing peering partners with monitoring and debugging tools.
Content delivery networks are a key component of the health of the Internet infrastructure ecosystem, experts say. CDNs pull content and services from the most efficient and close locations for the best response time to end users, exchanging traffic with nearby networks via a process known as peering. Their role in cleaning up routing issues with their peering partners could go a long way toward securing Internet routing.
The challenge today is that each network operator typically must implicitly trust the routing information that its peering network operator shares with it when transporting traffic. Erroneous or false routing information that isn't properly vetted or filtered means that traffic can get sent to a malicious site, for example. Spoofed IP addresses, meanwhile, can be used to wage distributed denial-of-service attacks, so stopping traffic from those IPs can prevent such attacks and outages.
"Improving global routing security is critical to protecting the Internet. We're proud to support the MANRS initiative and will work with the Internet Society, our industry peers and providers to help drive greater adoption of this effort to strengthen routing infrastructure," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement provided to Dark Reading.
Andrei Robachevsky, the Internet Society's senior director for technology programs and one of the co-founders of MANRS, says CDNs can improve their own security by improving the routing "hygiene" of their thousands of network peering partners to prevent leaking routing information as well. "You need to clean your part of the street so you're not polluting the Internet routing system and you encourage" your peers to adhere to routing norms, he says.
With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing organizations to send most of their employees to work from home under stay-at-home orders in various regions, the security and resiliency of the Internet's routing infrastructure will become even more critical, Robachevsky notes.
"Routing is the foundation of the Internet," he says. "When people start working from home and [there's] a high demand for content and network points of traffic, [you] realize how important the foundation" of the Net really is, he says. Routing can be used as an attack vector to wage a man-in-the-middle attack or to destabilize the infrastructure, for example, he explains.
And getting network providers on board with adopting MANRS practices is key. Barry Greene, principal architect with Akamai, says that also means convincing traditional telecommunications firms that have not yet done so to adopt MANRS.
"We hope to encourage people to put in their RFPs 'Are you MANRS-compliant?'" he says.
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