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Vulnerabilities / Threats

11/13/2018
12:15 PM
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Google Traffic Temporarily Rerouted via Russia, China

The incident, which Google reports is now resolved, could be the result of either technical mistakes or malicious activity.

Google users experienced connectivity issues yesterday when online traffic destined for Google services was rerouted through networks in Russia, China, and Nigeria. While the incident has since been resolved, Google has launched an investigation to determine its cause.

On Nov. 12 between 1PM-2:23PM PST, analysts at Internet research company ThousandEyes had problems connecting with G Suite. Closer inspection revealed everyone at ThousandEyes' office was having the same issue, which also extended to Google Search and Google Analytics.

Traffic intended for Google, it seemed, was getting dropped at China Telecom. Several ThousandEyes vantage points around the world showed similarly strange traffic patterns, all culminating at China Telecom, writes Ameet Naik, technical marketing manager, in a blog post.

In addition to China Telecom, researchers noticed traffic being rerouted to TransTelecom, a Russian network provider, and MainOne, a small ISP based in Nigeria. Most of the traffic was being directed to China, ThousandEyes reports. Its surveillance shows the origin of this leak was the BGP peering relationship between MainOne and China Telecom, says Naik.

"This incident at a minimum caused a massive denial of service to G Suite and Google Search," Naik explains. "However, this also put valuable Google traffic in the hands of ISPs in countries with a long history of Internet surveillance."

Google addressed the problem on its Cloud Stats Dash and reported services were not compromised in the incident. It has not found evidence this attack was malicious – and, as the Wall Street Journal points out, this could be the result of a cyberattack or an error in system configuration.

Naik says overall, this problem "further underscores one of the fundamental weaknesses in the fabric of the Internet." BGP was designed to rely on the mutual trust between ISPs and universities to exchange information, and it hasn't been updated to reflect the commercial and geopolitical relationships that exist between nations and service providers on today's Internet.

He advises companies to monitor their BGP routes so they can quickly detect issues like these and minimize the effect on their business. BGP-related incidents have occurred recently, he adds, pointing to the April 2018 cryptocurrency heist involving the hijack of a DNS provider.

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Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

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