Russian Internet Segment Architecture

As many of our readers know, Qrator.Radar is constantly researching global BGP connectivity, as well as regional. Since the Internet stands for “Interconnected Networks,” to ensure the best possible quality and speed the interconnectivity of individual networks should be rich and diverse, with their growth motivated on a sound competitive basis.

The fault-resistance of an internet connection in any given region or country is tied to the number of alternate routes between ASes. Though, as we stated before in our Internet Segments Reliability reports, some paths are obviously more critical compared to the others (for example, the paths to the Tier-1 transit ISPs or autonomous systems hosting authoritative DNS servers), which means that having as many reachable routes as possible is the only viable way to ensure adequate system scalability, stability and robustness.


This time, we are going to have a closer look at the Russian Federation internet segment. There are reasons to keep an eye on that segment: according to the numbers provided by the RIPE database, there are 6183 autonomous systems in Russia, out of 88664 registered worldwide, which stands for 6.87% of total.


This percentage puts Russia on a second place in the world, right after the USA (30.08% of registered ASes) and before Brazil, owning 6.34% of all autonomous systems. Effects of changes in the Russian connectivity could be observed across many other countries dependant on or adjacent to that connectivity, and ultimately by almost any ISP in the world.


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ClickHouse DB in DDoS mitigation
Two-layered scheme for packet filtration with machine learning

In general, Qrator Labs filtering service involves two stages: first, we immediately evaluate whether a request is malicious with the help of stateless and stateful checks, and, secondly, we decide whether or not to keep the source blacklisted and for how long. The resulting blacklist could be represented as the list of unique IP-addresses.


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Eliminating opportunities for traffic hijacking
Scheme for BGP connection to Qrator filtering network

A little historical overview

  • BGP hijacks - when an ISP originates an advertisement of address space that does not belong to it;
  • BGP route leaks - when an ISP advertises prefixes received from one provider or peer to another provider or peer.

This week it has been 11 years since the memorable YouTube BGP incident, provoked by the global propagation of a more specific prefix announce, originated by the Pakistan Telecom, leading to an almost 2 hour in duration traffic disruption in the form of redirecting traffic from legitimate path to the bogus one. We could guess if that event was intentional, and even a correct answer wouldn’t help us completely prevent such incidents from happening today. While you read this, a route leak or a hijack is spreading over the networks. Why? Because BGP is not easy, and configuring a correct and secure setup is even harder (yet).


In these eleven years, BGP hijacking became quite damaging attack vector due to the BGP emplacement in the architecture of modern internet. Thanks to BGP, routers not only acquire peer information, and therefore all the Internet routes - they are able of calculating the best path for traffic to its destination through many intermediate (transit) networks, each representing an individual AS. A single AS is just a group of IPv4 and/or IPv6 networks operating under a single external routing policy.


And thanks to BGP in its current state attackers are capable of conducting massive heists of traffic, efficiently hijacking target network’s prefixes, placing themselves in the middle. And that’s just the beginning - in the era of state-sponsored cyber actors, it is evident that the keystone of Border Gateway Protocol, which is trust, is no longer sufficient enough to prevent malicious outbreaks of routing incidents, deliberate or not, to occur. Since BGP plays such an essential role in the existence of the internet as we know it (it is the only exterior gateway protocol to control traffic flow between different Internet Service Providers all over the world), for a decade we’ve seen attempts to patch things up.


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Internet Issues & Availability Report 2018-2019

While working on the annual report this year we have decided to avoid retelling the news headlines of the previous year and, though it is almost impossible to ignore memories absolutely, we want to share with you the result of a clear thought and a strategic view to the point where we all are going to arrive in the nearest time - the present.

Leaving introduction words behind, here are our key findings:

  • Average DDoS attack duration dropped to 2.5 hours;
  • During 2018, the capability appeared for attacks at hundreds of gigabits-per-second within a country or region, bringing us to the verge of “quantum theory of bandwidth relativity”;
  • The frequency of DDoS attacks continues to grow;
  • The continuing growth of HTTPS-enabled (SSL) attacks;
  • PC is dead: most of the legitimate traffic today comes from smartphones, which is a challenge for DDoS actors today and would be the next challenge for DDoS mitigation companies;
  • BGP finally became an attack vector, 2 years later than we expected;
  • DNS manipulation has become the most damaging attack vector;
  • Other new amplification vectors are possible, like memcached & CoAP;
  • There are no more “safe industries” that are invulnerable to cyberattacks of any kind.

In this article we have tried to cherrypick all the most interesting parts of our report, though if you would like read the full version in English, the PDF is available.

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“No Filters” or An Easy Way to Shoot In the Foot

Several times in our posts we discussed consequences of lack of ingress filtering. Such mistake configuration can work fine most of the time, but one day may result in an outage at regional or even global scale. And yesterday, 25.11.2018, it happened again, this time in Russia.

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Mistake, Mistake, Blackhole

Three Mistakes in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Outage)

Yesterday, on 12.11.2018 a BGP configuration mistake happened at Mainone Cable Company (AS37282), a Nigerian ISP. It mainly hit two content providers: Google (AS15169, AS36384, AS36492, AS43515) and Cloudflare (AS13335). Leaked routes were accepted by its direct upstream, China Telecom (AS4809), further advertised in Russia to TTK (AS20485) and finally learned by NTT (AS2914) in Europe. After reaching the Tier-1 providers level leaked prefixes propagated globally, redirecting traffic to unusual Europe-Russia-China-Nigeria route.

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Wrong, wrong, WRONG! methods of DDoS mitigation

That is a quote from one of my favorite bands. Dave Gahan from Depeche Mode is a living proof that you can say the word “wrong” 65 times in 5 minutes and still be a rock star. Let’s see how that’s going to work for me.

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Userspace traffic generation
An artist’s concept showing MoonGen + DPDK + Lua traffic generation stack

DDoS attacks mitigation in the wild requires various techniques to be tested and learned. Hardware and software network solutions need to be tested in artificial environments close to real-life ones, with massive traffic streams imitating attacks. Without such experience, one would never acknowledge the specific capabilities and limitations every sophisticated tool has.

In this article, we are going to disclose certain methods of traffic generation used in Qrator Labs.


We notoriously advise any and every reader not to try any offensive use of the tools we write about in this research. Organization of DoS attacks is legally persecuted and could lead to lengthy imprisonment. Qrator Labs responsibly conducts all tests within an isolated laboratory environment.

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National Internet Segments’ Reliability Survey
2018 Internet Reliability Top 20 On The World Map

The report explains how the outage of a single AS affects the global connectivity of the region, especially when it is the biggest ISP of a given country. Internet connectivity at the network level is driven by the interaction between autonomous systems (AS’s). As the number of alternate routes between AS’s increases, so goes the fault-resistance and stability of the internet in a given country. However, some paths become more important than others and having as many alternate routes as possible is the only viable way ensure the system is adequately robust.

The global connectivity of any AS, regardless of whether it is a minor provider or an international giant, depends on the quantity and quality of its paths to Tier-1 ISP’s. Usually, Tier-1 implies an international company offering global IP transit service over connections to other Tier-1 providers. But there is no obligation to maintain such connectivity. Only the market can motivate them to peer with other Tier-1’s to deliver the highest quality service. Is that motivation enough? We explore this question in the IPv6 section below. If an ISP loses its connection to at least one of its Tier-1 peers, it would likely become unreachable in some parts of the world.

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Leaked Censorship

For the last 30 years basic idea behind the Internet’ design hasn’t changed - it connects people and services with each other. However, some authorities may have a different angle on what services their citizens should be able to connect to. A regulator might require ISPs to block off selected content or IP-address space for the end-users. How is that implemented? There are many options, but the most popular one is with the help of static routes, that may be propagated locally in BGP. Mistakes in this ‘local propagation’ have happened before: most notable was the YouTube hijack back in 2008, but less famous events were continually happening all over the decade. Today we observed another one, created by Iranian ISP that affected Telegram messenger.

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