CAIDA’s 2021 Annual Report

May 30th, 2022 by kc

The CAIDA annual report summarizes CAIDA’s activities for 2021 in the areas of research, infrastructure, data collection and analysis. Our research projects span: Internet cartography and performance; security, stability, and resilience studies; economics; and policy. Our infrastructure, software development, and data sharing activities support measurement-based Internet research, both at CAIDA and around the world, with focus on the health and integrity of the global Internet ecosystem.
The executive summary is excerpted below:

Internet Mapping. We continued to pioneer methods and tools for Internet cartography, including for identifying and geolocating cloud interconnections, and inferring regional access topologies of Internet Service Providers. We extended our efforts from last year in automated learning of semantic structure in router hostnames, to include extraction of geographic and network ownership information. We also developed a methodology to identify state-owned Internet operators in observed network level (BGP) topology data. These building blocks will enable creation of macroscopic Internet topology maps of unprecedented richness and fidelity.

Performance Measurement. We designed and implemented a system to leverage thousands of public speedtests servers to comprehensively measure performance from the public clouds to other networks. In collaborate with U. Twente, we built on our anycast census work from last year to characterize the growing adoption of anycast in DNS authoritative infrastructure, and its implications.

Security, Stability, and Resilience (SSR) of the Internet’s addressing, routing, and naming systems. We completed five technical and two policy studies on vulnerabilities of the subsystems that constitute the Internet’s fundamental plumbing: IP addressing, DNS, and BGP routing. Each of these systems was characterized by critical flaws that continue to leave the Internet ecosystem vulnerable to a variety of attacks. Our published studies in 2021 included: analyzing the (in)accuracy of the existing Internet Routing Registry (IRR) databases as the emerging Resource Public Key Infrastructure gains traction; comparing the administrative (observable in Regional Internet Registry (RIR) data) vs operational properties (observable in BGP data) of autonomous systems; IPv6 privacy mechanism vulnerabilities; and risks exposed by DNS registrar name management practices. Our collaboration with MIT Lincoln Labs continued as they used the UCSD Telescope data to study security-relevant scaling characteristics of darkspace traffic.

Economics and Policy. Our final research thrust focuses on the implications of empirical studies of the Internet on public policy. KC completed participation in ICANN’s Second Security, Stability, and Resiliency (SSR2) Review Team, and continues to serve as a shepherd to support ICANN’s processing of the recommendations. We supported economists at Harvard in using our topology data to study the impact of GDPR on the interconnection ecosystem. Finally, we described data-driven approaches to improve the security of the Internet infrastructure.

Infrastructure Operations. Our continuing NSF and new DARPA support allowed us to make progress on almost all infrastructure components that create data products in the most demand by the community, including Ark, AS Rank, AS-to-Org mapping, BGPStream, Periscope, Spoofer, and the UCSD Network Telescope. We reached milestones with new infrastructure components: a new DNZ TLD zone database, an IP address metadata software library; a new BGPView data processing pipeline component of BGPStream, and the FANTAIL project for processing and querying terabytes of traceroute data, and our rich-context Resource Catalog for CAIDA Internet Data Science Resources.

New Infrastructure Awards. In collaboration with U. Oregon’s Network Startup Resource Center (NSRC) and MIT, we received two large National Science Foundation (NSF) infrastructure grants that started in October 2021. The first was Integrated Laboratory for Advancing Network Data Science (ILANDS), which will support enhancements to our infrastructure to handle 100GB packet rates, and projected routing table growth, including deploying enhanced storage and compute resources to support long-term use of the data. The second is our largest award to date: a Mid-scale Research Infrastructure Design Project to build a Global Measurement Infrastructure. We are grateful for this project which offers a potential path to put CAIDA’s activities on a sustainable footing. It will support our design and prototyping of a new highly distributed network measurement platform capable of capturing several types of data relevant to security research, as well as hosting new vetted experiments. We will have more to report on these projects next year.

Community Service. At NSF’s invitation/request, we had the honor of co-organizing the first NSF-sponsored Workshop on Overcoming Measurement Barriers to Internet Research in early 2021, and posted a report that was cited in NSF’s new Internet Measurement Research solicitation, the first U.S.-government solicitation ever focused on Internet measurement research. Progress!

Everything Else. As always, we engaged in a variety of tool development, data sharing, and outreach activities, including updating our web site, and publishing 13 peer-reviewed papers, 2 workshop reports, 9 presentations, and 2 blog entries. This report summarizes the status of our activities. Details about our research are available in papers, presentations, and interactive resources on our web sites. We provide listings and links to software tools and data sets shared, and statistics reflecting their usage. Finally, we offer a “CAIDA in numbers” section: statistics on our performance, financial reporting, and supporting resources, including visiting scholars and students, and all funding sources.

CAIDA’s program plan for 2018-2023 is available at We will begin our 2023-2028 program plan in late 2022. Please feel free to send comments or questions to info at caida dot org. Please note the link to donate to CAIDA at the top of our newly renovated web site; UC San Diego charges no overhead on donations; it is tax-deductible and goes 100% to research (no university overhead)!

For the full 2021 annual report, see

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