For more than an hour at the beginning of April, major sites like Google and Facebook sputtered for large swaths of people. The culprit wasn’t a hack or a bug. It was problems with the internet data routing standard known as the Border Gateway Protocol, which had allowed significant amounts of web traffic to take an unexpected detour through a Russian telecom. For Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince, it was the last straw.
BGP disruptions happen frequently, generally by accident. But BGP can also be hijacked for large-scale spying, data interception, or as a sort of denial of service attack. Just last week, United States Executive Branch agencies moved to block China Telecom from offering services in the US, because of allegedly malicious activity that includes BGP attacks. Companies like Cloudflare sit on the front lines of the BGP blowback. And while the company can’t fix the problem directly, it can call out those that are slow to contribute defenses.
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