Archive for the 'Security' Category

Help save the Internet: Install the new Spoofer client (v1.1.0)!

Sunday, December 18th, 2016 by Josh Polterock

The greatest security vulnerability of the Internet (TCP/IP) architecture is the lack of source address validation, i.e., any sender may put a fake source address in a packet, and the destination-based routing protocols that glue together the global Internet will get that packet to its intended destination. Attackers exploit this vulnerability by sending many (millions of) spoofed-source-address packets to services on the Internet they wish to disrupt (or take offline altogether). Attackers can further leverage intermediate servers to amplify such packets into even larger packets that will cause greater disruption for the same effort on the attacker’s part.

Although the IETF recommended best practices to mitigate this vulnerability by configuring routers to validate that source addresses in packets are legitimate, compliance with such practices (BCP38 and BCP84) are notoriously incentive-incompatible. That is, source address validation (SAV) can be a burden to a network who supports it, but its deployment by definition helps not that network but other networks who are thus protected from spoofed-source attacks from that network. Nonetheless, any network who does not deploy BCP38 is “part of the DDoS problem”.

Over the past several months, CAIDA, in collaboration with Matthew Luckie at the University of Waikato, has upgraded Rob Beverly’s original spoofing measurement system, developing new client tools for measuring IPv4 and IPv6 spoofing capabilities, along with services that provide reporting and allow users to opt-in or out of sharing the data publicly. To find out if your network provider(s), or any network you are visiting, implements filtering and allow IP spoofing, point your web browser at and install our simple client.

This newly released spoofer v1.1.0 client has implemented parallel probing of targets, providing a 5x increase in speed to complete the test, relative to v.1.0. Among other changes, this new prober uses scamper instead of traceroute when possible, and has improved display of results. The installer for Microsoft Windows now configures Windows Firewall.

For more technical details about the problem of IP spoofing and our approach to measurement, reporting, notifications and remediation, see the slides from Matthew Luckie’s recent slideset, “Software Systems for Surveying Spoofing Susceptibility”, presented to the Australian Network Operators Group (AusNOG) in September 2016.

The project web page reports recently run tests from clients willing to share data publicly, test results classified by Autonomous System (AS) and by country, and a summary statistics of IP spoofing over time. We will enhance these reports over the coming months.

This material is based on research sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate, Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency, Cyber Security Division (DHS S&T/HSARPA/CSD) BAA HSHQDC-14-R-B0005, and the Government of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland via contract number D15PC00188. Views should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies or endorsements, either expressed or implied, of Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Government, or the Government of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

CAIDA’s 2015 Annual Report

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016 by kc

[Executive summary and link below]

The CAIDA annual report summarizes CAIDA’s activities for 2015, in the areas of research, infrastructure, data collection and analysis. Our research projects span Internet topology, routing, security, economics, future Internet architectures, 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:

Mapping the Internet. We continued to pursue Internet cartography, improving our IPv4 and IPv6 topology mapping capabilities using our expanding and extensible Ark measurement infrastructure. We improved the accuracy and sophistication of our topology annotation capabilities, including classification of ISPs and their business relationships. Using our evolving IP address alias resolution measurement system, we collected curated, and released another Internet Topology Data Kit (ITDK).

Mapping Interconnection Connectivity and Congestion.
We used the Ark infrastructure to support an ambitious collaboration with MIT to map the rich mesh of interconnection in the Internet, with a focus on congestion induced by evolving peering and traffic management practices of CDNs and access ISPs, including methods to detect and localize the congestion to specific points in networks. We undertook several studies to pursue different dimensions of this challenge: identification of interconnection borders from comprehensive measurements of the global Internet topology; identification of the actual physical location (facility) of an interconnection in specific circumstances; and mapping observed evidence of congestion at points of interconnection. We continued producing other related data collection and analysis to enable evaluation of these measurements in the larger context of the evolving ecosystem: quantifying a given ISP’s global routing footprint; classification of autonomous systems (ASes) according to business type; and mapping ASes to their owning organizations. In parallel, we examined the peering ecosystem from an economic perspective, exploring fundamental weaknesses and systemic problems of the currently deployed economic framework of Internet interconnection that will continue to cause peering disputes between ASes.

Monitoring Global Internet Security and Stability. We conduct other global monitoring projects, which focus on security and stability aspects of the global Internet: traffic interception events (hijacks), macroscopic outages, and network filtering of spoofed packets. Each of these projects leverages the existing Ark infrastructure, but each has also required the development of new measurement and data aggregation and analysis tools and infrastructure, now at various stages of development. We were tremendously excited to finally finish and release BGPstream, a software framework for processing large amounts of historical and live BGP measurement data. BGPstream serves as one of several data analysis components of our outage-detection monitoring infrastructure, a prototype of which was operating at the end of the year. We published four other papers that either use or leverage the results of internet scanning and other unsolicited traffic to infer macroscopic properties of the Internet.

Future Internet Architectures. The current TCP/IP architecture is showing its age, and the slow uptake of its ostensible upgrade, IPv6, has inspired NSF and other research funding agencies around the world to invest in research on entirely new Internet architectures. We continue to help launch this moonshot from several angles — routing, security, testbed, management — while also pursuing and publishing results of six empirical studies of IPv6 deployment and evolution.

Public Policy. Our final research thrust is public policy, an area that expanded in 2015, due to requests from policymakers for empirical research results or guidance to inform industry tussles and telecommunication policies. Most notably, the FCC and AT&T selected CAIDA to be the Independent Measurement Expert in the context of the AT&T/DirecTV merger, which turned out to be as much of a challenge as it was an honor. We also published three position papers each aimed at optimizing different public policy outcomes in the face of a rapidly evolving information and communication technology landscape. We contributed to the development of frameworks for ethical assessment of Internet measurement research methods.

Our infrastructure operations activities also grew this year. We continued to operate active and passive measurement infrastructure with visibility into global Internet behavior, and associated software tools that facilitate network research and security vulnerability analysis. In addition to BGPstream, we expanded our infrastructure activities to include a client-server system for allowing measurement of compliance with BCP38 (ingress filtering best practices) across government, research, and commercial networks, and analysis of resulting data in support of compliance efforts. Our 2014 efforts to expand our data sharing efforts by making older topology and some traffic data sets public have dramatically increased use of our data, reflected in our data sharing statistics. In addition, we were happy to help launch DHS’ new IMPACT data sharing initiative toward the end of the year.

Finally, as always, we engaged in a variety of tool development, and outreach activities, including maintaining web sites, publishing 27 peer-reviewed papers, 3 technical reports, 3 workshop reports, 33 presentations, 14 blog entries, and hosting 5 workshops. 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 also provide listings and links to software tools and data sets shared, and statistics reflecting their usage. sources. 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.

For the full 2015 annual report, see

1st CAIDA BGP Hackathon brings students and community experts together

Thursday, February 18th, 2016 by Josh Polterock

We set out to conduct a social experiment of sorts, to host a hackathon to hack streaming BGP data. We had no idea we would get such an enthusiastic reaction from the community and that we would reach capacity. We were pleasantly surprised at the response to our invitations when 25 experts came to interact with 50 researchers and practitioners (30 of whom were graduate students). We felt honored to have participants from 15 countries around the world and experts from companies such as Cisco, Comcast, Google, Facebook and NTT, who came to share their knowledge and to help guide and assist our challenge teams.

Having so many domain experts from so many institutions and companies with deep technical understanding of the BGP ecosystem together in one room greatly increased the kinetic potential for what we might accomplish over the course of our two days.


Panel on Cyberwarfare and Cyberattacks at 9th Circuit Judicial Conference

Monday, July 20th, 2015 by kc

I had the honor of contributing to a panel on “Cyberwarfare and cyberattacks: protecting ourselves within existing limitations” at this year’s 9th Circuit Judicial Conference. The panel moderator was Hon. Thomas M. Hardiman, and the other panelists were Professor Peter Cowhey, of UCSD’s School of Global Policy and Strategy, and Professor and Lt. Col. Shane R. Reeves of West Point Academy. Lt. Col. Reeves gave a brief primer on the framework of the Law of Armed Conflict, distinguished an act of cyberwar from a cyberattack, and described the implications for political and legal constraints on governmental and private sector responses. Professor Cowhey followed with a perspective on how economic forces also constrain cybersecurity preparedness and response, drawing comparisons with other industries for which the cost of security technology is perceived to exceed its benefit by those who must invest in its deployment. I used a visualization of an Internet-wide cybersecurity event to illustrate technical, economic, and legal dimensions of the ecosystem that render the fundamental vulnerabilities of today’s Internet infrastructure so persistent and pernicious. A few people said I talked too fast for them to understand all the points I was trying to make, so I thought I should post the notes I used during my panel remarks. (My remarks borrowed heavily from Dan Geer’s two essays: Cybersecurity and National Policy (2010), and his more recent Cybersecurity as Realpolitik (video), both of which I highly recommend.) After explaining the basic concept of a botnet, I showed a video derived from CAIDA’s analysis of a botnet scanning the entire IPv4 address space (discovered and comprehensively analyzed by Alberto Dainotti and Alistair King). I gave a (too) quick rundown of the technological, economic, and legal circumstances of the Internet ecosystem that facilitate the deployment of botnets and other threats to networked critical infrastructure.

DHS S&T PREDICT PI Meeting, Marina del Rey, CA

Friday, June 6th, 2014 by Josh Polterock

On 28-29 May 2014, DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) held a meeting of the Principal Investigators of the PREDICT (Protected Repository for the Defense of Infrastructure Against Cyber Threats) Project, an initiative to facilitate the accessibility of computer and network operational data for use in cybersecurity defensive R&D. The project is a three-way partnership among government, critical information infrastructure providers, and security development communities (both academic and commercial), all of whom seek technical solutions to protect the public and private information infrastructure. The primary goal of PREDICT is to bridge the gap between producers of security-relevant network operations data and technology developers and evaluators who can leverage this data to accelerate the design, production, and evaluation of next-generation cybersecurity solutions.

In addition to presenting project updates, each PI presented on a special topic suggested by Program Manager Doug Maughan. I presented some reflective thoughts on 10 Years Later: What Would I Have done Differently? (Or what would I do today?). In this presentation, I revisited my 2008 top ten list of things lawyers should know about the Internet to frame some proposed forward-looking strategies for the PREDICT project in 2014.

Also noted at the meeting, DHS recently released a new broad agency announcement (BAA) that will contractually require investigators contribute into PREDICT any data created or used in testing and evaluation of the funded work (if the investigator has redistribution rights, and subject to appropriate disclosure control).

Carna botnet scans confirmed

Monday, May 13th, 2013 by Alistair King

On March 17, 2013, the authors of an anonymous email to the “Full Disclosure” mailing list announced that last year they conducted a full probing of the entire IPv4 Internet. They claimed they used a botnet (named “carna” botnet) created by infecting machines vulnerable due to use of default login/password pairs (e.g., admin/admin). The botnet instructed each of these machines to execute a portion of the scan and then transfer the results to a central server. The authors also published a detailed description of how they operated, along with 9TB of raw logs of the scanning activity.

Online magazines and newspapers reported the news, which triggered some debate in the research community about the ethical implications of using such data for research purposes. A more fundamental question received less attention: since the authors went out of their way to remain anonymous, and the only data available about this event is the data they provide, how do we know this scan actually happened? If it did, how do we know that the resulting data is correct?


Correlation between country governance regimes and the reputation of their Internet (IP) address allocations

Monday, April 15th, 2013 by Bradley Huffaker

[While getting our feet wet with D3 (what a wonderful tool!), we finally tried this analysis tidbit that’s been on our list for a while.]

We recently analyzed the reputation of a country’s Internet (IPv4) addresses by examining the number of blacklisted IPv4 addresses that geolocate to a given country. We compared this indicator with two qualitative measures of each country’s governance. We hypothesized that countries with more transparent, democratic governmental institutions would harbor a smaller fraction of misbehaving (blacklisted) hosts. The available data confirms this hypothesis. A similar correlation exists between perceived corruption and fraction of blacklisted IP addresses.

For more details of data sources and analysis, see:

x:Corruption Perceptions Index
y:IP population %
x:Democracy Index
y:IP population %
x:Democracy Index
y:IP infection %

Interactive graph and analysis on the CAIDA website

Syria disappears from the Internet

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012 by Alistair King and Alberto Dainotti

On the 29th of November, shortly after 10am UTC (12pm Damascus time), the Syrian state telecom (AS29386) withdrew the majority of BGP routes to Syrian networks (see reports from Renesys, Arbor, CloudFlare, BGPmon). Five prefixes allocated to Syrian organizations remained reachable for another several hours, served by Tata Communications. By midnight UTC on the 29th, as reported by BGPmon, these five prefixes had also been withdrawn from the global routing table, completing the disconnection of Syria from the rest of the Internet.


CAIDA at the NSF Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) Principal Investigators’ Meeting

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012 by Alberto Dainotti

Last week CAIDA researchers (Alberto and kc) visited National Harbor (Maryland) for the 1st NSF Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) Principal Investigators Meeting. The National Science Foundation’s SATC program is an interdisciplinary expansion of the old Trustworthy Computing program sponsored by CISE, extended to include the SBE, OCI, MPS, and EHR directorates. The SATC program also includes a bold new Transition to Practice category of project funding — to address the challenge of moving from research to capability — which we are excited and honored to be a part of.


Unsolicited Internet Traffic from Libya

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011 by Emile Aben

Amidst the recent political unrest in the Middle East, researchers have observed significant changes in Internet traffic and connectivity. In this article we tap into a previously unused source of data: unsolicited Internet traffic arriving from Libya. The traffic data we captured shows distinct changes in unsolicited traffic patterns since 17 February 2011.

Most of the information already published about Internet connectivity in the Middle East has been based on four types of data: