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L. Wang, X. Zhao, D. Pei, R. Bush, D. Massey, A. Mankin, S.~F. Wu, and L. Zhang, "Observation and Analysis of BGP Behavior Under Stress", in ACM SIGCOMM Internet Measurement Workshop, Nov 2002.
Observation and Analysis of BGP Behavior Under Stress
Authors: L. Wang
X. Zhao
D. Pei
R. Bush
D. Massey
A. Mankin
S. F. Wu
L. Zhang
Published: ACM SIGCOMM Internet Measurement Workshop, 2002
Entry Date: 2003-05-14
Abstract: Despite BGP's critical importance as the de-facto Internet inter-domain routing protocol, there is little understanding of how BGP actually performs under stressful conditions when dependable routing is most needed. In this paper, we examine BGP's behavior during one stressful period, the Code Red/Nimda attack on September 18, 2001. The attack was correlated with a 30-fold increase in the BGP update messages at a monitoring point which peers with a number of Internet service providers. Our examination of BGP's behavior during the event concludes that BGP exhibited no significant abnormality, and that over 40% of the observed updates can be attributed to the monitoring artifact in current BGP measurement settings. Our analysis, however, does reveal several weak points in both the protocol and its implementation, such as BGP's sensitivity to the transport session reliability, its inability to avoid the global propagation of small local changes, and its certain implementation features whose otherwise benign effects only get amplified under stressful conditions. We also identify areas for improvement in the current network measurement and monitoring effort.
  • BGP updates collected at RIPE RRC00 (12 peers) from Sep 10 to Sep 30, 2001
  • assign BGP updates to session resets by (1) looking in logs to find time at which a peering session is re-established and (2) noting updates that announce a given prefix for the first time in the ensuing 25 minutes; the authors observed that most table transfers finish in 10 minutes
  • monitoring point experienced many session resets during worm attacks; the authors attribute this to the susceptibility of multihop eBGP to link problems, noting that RRC04 with direct BGP sessions didn't experience a single reset on Sep 18th
  • 40% of BGP updates during worm attacks were caused by session resets at the monitoring point
  • significant fraction of remaining BGP updates had no new AS paths
  • majority of BGP updates with new AS path information were originated by a small number of highly unstable edge networks (specifically, prefixes belonging to cable modem, DSL, or dial-up providers)
  • the authors conjecture that a flurry of implicit withdrawals announcing different AS paths could result from session resets between two remote ASes; a session failure causes one of the ASes to reannounce all prefixes using an alternate AS path
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