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BGP and the Rule of Custom


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Title BGP and the Rule of Custom
Subtitle How the internet self-governs without international law
Title of Series 34th Chaos Communication Congress
Author DeLisle, Caleb James
License CC Attribution 4.0 International:
You are free to use, adapt and copy, distribute and transmit the work or content in adapted or unchanged form for any legal purpose as long as the work is attributed to the author in the manner specified by the author or licensor.
DOI 10.5446/34857
Publisher Chaos Computer Club e.V.
Release Date 2017
Language English

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Subject Area Computer Science
Abstract When bad actors can simply move servers from country to country, why does the internet remain reasonably civil ? How does one get on, or get kicked off, of the internet ? Why do fraud and child abuse websites regularly get shut down but thepiratebay remains living ? I will explain BGP, the protocol that knits the internet together, also covering the world of last resort hosting, bulletproof hosting and high profile cases of servers that were taken offline and servers which could not be taken offline despite significant effort.
Keywords Ethics, Society & Politics

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and a and I it and please join me in welcoming for his talk a BGP and the rule of customer the future have thank you and thanks for coming on tonight I'm going to speak to you about the BGP protocol but it's not gonna be that technical and specifically I'm gonna concentrate on the way that the DP molds human interactions so that on
I'm aiming at making this a reasonably accessible talk so if you catch me using slightly incorrect terms for something consider them optimizing not only for the clarity of the correctness but also for the widest possible audience so protocols that are at the root systems of governance so I'm I'm gonna propose a framework to think about governance and then as I described the BGP we can we will be able to analyze it through the lens of that framework and so as my slide shows here I find it useful to die column eyes governance systems into either institutional like democracy or network like the family or like the CCC and when you think about institutional governance think about democracy thing about Wall thing about rights equality these are all concepts which are protected for us by an institution in this case the state and when you think about networks think more about the family thing about reputation on our mutual respect these are representations of the network governance model and that the network governance model turns out to be very important to BGP no I'm argue that we need both institutional and networked governance and each 1 should be used for what it's best for the
so the 1st and then talk about Where BGP came from so the year was 1989 and there were 2 people named Kirk he'd end yokels Rector and they were having lunch and at the time the Internet of the day then known as an sf net was facing that impending collapse let's say sf net was at this at the time experiencing explosive growth and the EGP routing protocol was reaching the point where it just could no longer work so during their lunch they defined a new protocol which they jokingly referred to as a to napkin protocol because they draw on their diagrams out on napkins and we have here some photographs of those napkins but something understand about BGP at the time in the it was that at this time the so-called internet was considered kind of this weird an artist experiment is the real networks used protocols such as x 25 which among other things made sure at the protocol level that when you send a piece of data it would actually reach its destination by contrast internet protocol was what we call a best effort protocol meaning that sometimes a packet might arrive mangled or maybe it would arrive at all computers on the Internet usually just use the TCP protocol to put the pieces back together and to resend the broken ones but TCP is not really part of the Internet itself it's more an application that runs over it and it's telling that in this era of the Internet was referred to as TCP slash IP because at the time is expected that any network must be providing reliable transport now the effect of IPC simplicity as compared to other networking protocols cannot be overstated I'm end to keep dicting consider a different protocol even that the 1 used in telephone networks even to this day it's still mind-numbingly complex that it actually encourages the telephone companies to monopolize in order to to manage the protocol that they use in fact the sonnet protocol that's used in the American telephone companies as an equivalent 1 here in Europe it actually requires synchronized atomic clocks in the routers in order to schedule the messages so that there's an empty moment in each line this just for the message to pass through and in contrast the simplicity of IP and the political design of BGP have allowed for just about anybody to become a network operator the so so what is
BGP bgp is of protocol is a protocol which every Internet Router uses to talk to other routers when they're talking across in organizational brown tree see inside an organization you control the computers so you can have them can talk anyway they want but when you talk across boundaries the longer Franca of the community of a routing protocols that is BGP the and BGP involves 2 types of identifiers which organizations need to apply to apply for these are IP addresses which most people know about and the lesser known autonomous system numbers and each network provider has an AS number both IP addresses and as numbers are issued by I can through its regional registries which manages and issuance kind of in accordance to need and in autonomous system is a network operators such as an ISP your hosting provider and the having the AS number means that they're able to speak as equals with all the other network operators it it also means that when they enter interconnect with another network operator the fact that they're interconnected is public and that's very important little piece of BGP the now BGP is unlike the EGP routing protocol before a mesh protocol and this fact has proven highly significant because it's created what I call the imperative to peer and 2 wants to understand the imperative to peer I give you a scenario let's say that you and I are each a medium-size network operator so your customers want talk to my customers my customers want talk to your customers but as medium size network operators we both need to buy internet from somebody else that's bigger than us in the industry we call this the upstream provider and if my customers are asking for websites hosted by your customers normally what's going to happen is I'm going to get those requests and I have to send them to my upstream provider they're gonna give the Europe string provider was going to give them to you but since we're both paying for those links to or upstream providers this were sort of paying for that traffic in a way and now if you want I happen to have robbers missing data center then we could just run a wire across the room and then here with 1 another and BGP will bypass are upstream providers and rout the traffic between me and you and need and it's it's much more efficient the now it's important understand peering means you and your customers will talk directly to me and my customers what it doesn't mean is that you can use me to reach my other peers for my peers peers for my upstream or someone else to have to do that you have to be my customer because appearing has this limitation it's usually mutually beneficial for 2 eyes piece to just beer and usually happens with no money changing hands and in fact it almost always happens there's not a not even any paper contract that they just say well you would make sense let's run a wire no In this scenario you and I needed to have the upstream provider and you might wonder well who doesn't mean upstream provider there must be some 1 of the top where's the core well the car is a series of what we call tier-1 providers I
and in this picture of we have white lines which represent the peering agreements and the red lines represent the customer agreements the tear ones are the people up at the top and they can reach anywhere in the internet using appearing agreement or customer they don't need to buy Internet from anyone however they do need to pay the upkeep on their massive fiber-optic knit networks which given the global reach to get these peering agreements and to get these customers which makes them at 1 in the 1st place and you can also see some interesting things in in the case but you can have you can be a customer and also appear and you can also have multiple upstream providers this but with Tier 1 there's a bit of politics secure ones are hesitant to appear with smaller operators if there's a chance that if they refused to peer the smaller 1 might alternatively become a customer and so it's a bit like marriages between wealthy families because appearing between tier 1 so it's it's a complex process striving to ensure reciprocity of value now small networks on the other hand they they're not so concerned about this and so they're ready to peer with each other quite liberally and this created a situation known in the industry as donor appearing where in the tier 1 they're actually increasingly being routed around and it's worthy of reflection of the fact that well sonnet with a synchronized atomic clocks as made an incentive to monopoly BGP with it's imperative to peer has created a situation where monopoly is discouraged however this system also has means of preventing bad behavior on the Internet which it works astonishingly well while at the same time preserving almost absolute free expression the
so this is a chart of the percentage of all e-mail that spam n to understand why this chart is remarkable consider the 1 bad protocol e-mail it's e-mail is basically a push protocol with an unlimited free speech so all you gotta do is get on the internet fire up a mail server and you can just send spam to anyone it's magic so really this percentage should be like over 99 per cent but it's not well e-mails old and heavily used protocol and the network operators have made a kind of a special case e-mail is actually 1 of few protocols were messing with it can get you kicked off the whole Internet even if you have your own network I S number even if you are a network operator with peers and everything you can still get chopped off the internet if you mess around with male the
so you try to explain how this works and I'm going to do it by trying to think of different types of actors there that exists in the Internet service sphere so there's I've add there's a lot of actors of course but I've made these 4 main categories which I think helps to explain the situation and they're the customer the provider the network operator and the civil society organizations so a customer is someone like me I take an IP address on loan from my cable provider at home and I take 1 from my web hosting provider it's not my IP address and it's not assigned to me it doesn't have my name on it and they can take a back when I stopped working with them but that means I have relative anonymity because I'm not out there looking for peers I have my provider they know who I am the i they know me I know them nobody else needs to know who that IP address associated with however my prior my provider can trivially turn off my access to the internet but by the same token I can usually choose which provided patronize as well modulo the monopolies in the cable companies the providers on the other hand they're not anonymous they have to maintain relationships with network operators they have to see customers they they're they're out in the public providers also have an incentive to keep customers so they can't be obviously skinny and they shouldn't are that they can't provide that service they probably shouldn't be scummy and they can't provide that service they also have a imperative to stay friendly with at least 1 network operator if all the network operators just hate them then they can find internet the providers have their own IP addresses their assigned to them from the Internet registries and so they can connect with multiple network operators including even having peers although in practice they often keep their networks fairly simple but because the way BGP exchanges information the their peers and their providers are publicly known whereas me the little customer borrowing an IP address I'm fairly opaque now network operators they're somewhat like providers of they provide a service but in general they make their business around providing raw internet access to smaller providers and that's why I differentiated them network operators are very much not anonymous they have to have large numbers of peering agreements and customers which again all of these net connections are transparent because BGP works and they're strongly pressured by the imperative to peer if they're not able to find peers then the net then all the network traffic or have to be paid for can even squeeze them out of the market they do have some powers so they can refuse to pure the network operator and they can even disconnect the customer which they might do to maintain their reputation the last group here is civil society these are organizations like teams Moreau and Spamhaus they dedicate their time to shedding light on the bad guys of the internet they're not anonymous as organizations although their members can be hidden and they also maintain lists of an IP addresses and AS numbers which are either known to be operated by spam organizations or which are just unused and shouldn't be shouldn't it be existing Internet civil society doesn't have any direct power but their power comes from the reputation providing valid and useful data there are also able to do their job because of the transparency of providers and network operators which is built into BGP and tell you story about 2 providers 1 is called McCullough and the others Compiere q both of these organizations were founded in 2004 and both of them have been subject to certain controversy but tellingly 1 of them still remains with us and the other 1 is long gone so
this is a splash page of McCullough back in 2008 before went dark was founded by 19 year old student named Nikolai McCullough and it thrive for 4 years before being taken down Mykola provided was known as bulletproof hosting that means hosting where the provider will keep your server online no matter what you do with it bulletproof hosting providers choose not to cooperate with civil society or even law-enforcement unless they're forced to the and In November of 2008 The Washington Post gathered some damning evidence that McCullough was all hosting provider mostly interested in providing service for spammers and what's interesting is that rather than send this evidence to the police they center the MacOS network operators like many providers Michael but Internet access from 2 major network operators in this case was a hurricane electric in global crossing when Hurricane in global crossing were given this information from the Washington Post they voluntarily chose to abruptly ceased doing business with McCullough and the provider was caught off guard and it and all of its customers went offline here is
the global volume of spam it which dropped to that day by as much as 75 per cent needless to say no other network provider was begin were ready to begin selling service the McCullough and their business crumbled the the now peer
q is in some ways similar to McCullough so they and in some ways they're quite different Peer Q was founded by 2 Swedish guys known in BitTorrent circles as in cart and TMO and they provide what I call last resort posting they've hosted highly controversial websites such as WikiLeaks but they're probably best known for hosting the Pirate Bay the pyruvate stands out is probably 1 of the most famous websites to publicly flock copyright going to the extent of
actually publishing abuse complaints along with their sarcastic and humiliating responses but the the this is something that the
copyright industry had never seen before high-power lawyers they're just not accustomed to getting replies signed go fuck yourself so all 4 of the founders of spent some time in prison and the sites data centers have been rated multiple times and supposedly Hollywood even use threats of trade sanctions against Sweden to force them to shut this thing down but we find as McCullough has drifted to historical soup obscurity the pyruvate is still alive and is even become something of a cultural institutions that and we also find that unlike McCullough P Q in the power they have never had any problems with the network operators so 1 of the fundamental tenets of the Internet is that network operators are morally but not legally responsible for the activities of the customers and peers so they may choose who they do business with and they will not be held the legal account for these decisions of so what are the
lessons that we can take away from this recently there's been a lot of work done on federated social networking protocols I'm sure some of you will take part in this development but the vast majority of you will be evaluating them to make decisions about which technology to adopt and I urge you to give some thought toward the political identities of the protocols which you make or which you choose to make your own like many things systems of communication are defined largely by what they reject whether that be packets larger than 1500 bytes or Nazi propaganda and In a protocol I identify 3 main ways that these rules can be defined the 1st is what we hard-code into this at software source code some examples our message formats and permission systems but hard coded rules can be extended further with cryptic cryptography and especially with block chains hard-coded rules are a perfect example of institutional governance they can be very fair they are very fair because code applies the rules equally to everyone and for things which we consider a basic human rights such as private communications and things which are easily quantifiable into software hard can be the best solution however hard rules to have a downside if theory and a cryptocurrency based heavily on the libertarian philosophy of freedom of contract found itself in a bit of a quandary when a bug was discovered 1 of the very significant contract allowing for all the money to be sold out of that contract for those who don't follow the topic is theory and was hard fought in order to stop the error contract and everybody had to update and while the fork itself protected the participants in the contract it struck a serious blow to the fundamental philosophy of if theory of and it serves as a warning that we have a downside to coding the 2nd source is of course the central authority the Internet users I can as a central authority to manage allocation of domain names IP addresses and autonomous system numbers the central authority is kind of poster child of institutional governance like hard-coded rules rule by central authority also tends to be egalitarian moreover a central authority is actually capable of equity because it can comprehend people's different situations and adapt to them something that a hard-coded rule cannot do but a central authority like a hard-coded rule is prone to coldness and bureaucracy and moreover it's quite difficult to create central authorities which do not give certain individuals unaccountable power over others the 3rd source of rules on this case where this talk gets its name is from the network and this is how the network operators and how BGP mostly managed to keep e-mail spam and other bad things off the internet the network is by far the most humane form of governance social norms are passed along from friend to friend rather than rules being forced down upon people by central authority or source code and we see network like systems in families ancient tribal societies as well as royalty and elite in kingdoms and of course online however in electronic networks we tend to associate it with the we get to choose who we associate with from any connected person in the world and but networks also have a downside they're not egalitarian in any way those central in the network are simply more powerful than those on the edges in the feudal system while was often applied differently to a person based on how they were dressed or what family they were from the origin of the term rule of law it was initially described as a better alternative to rule of the king or rule of man we have we have a law we have the state because people demanded them as in this case the inequity of the network proved unacceptable but there's an important difference between the GPS rule of custom and the patently unjust feudal system BGP is transparent we know which network operators are interconnected with home and we know who is protecting the bad actors and in every case we find dystopia out whenever there's power without transparency either in opaque proprietary code unaccountable central authorities or in networks which form mafias secret societies the feudal system and I think the key message from BGP has to be that whether in central authorities or networks power and privacy do not mix with any measure of power there must be equal transparency and accountability so in closing I hope to go out there and make protocols and make systems which far surpasses what we have today and to do that I suggest looking at the past and what protocols have been highly successful
and try to identify why they worked also look at the ones that didn't work look at the things that died in of this hell storm of spam and try to keep it simple I developed the software before and something I learned the hard way is that complexity becomes the enemy of adoption so maybe it's a good idea we all right protocols on napkins thank you have thank you get lot but we know that 5 minutes for questions you know the drill police lined up at the microphones this 4 microphones to in the middle 1 the 1 that please don't leave the room until talks of if you if you stood up you can leave but please stay seated you can spend 5 minutes as a lot of noise people keep leaving during the kidney and microphone along please hello I'm mom from Sweden uh I really like to talk to have an overview of this of the it was mostly correct uh I would say that I'm working with both of the g of the last and also I association with I think you put them on the you give them a bit too much power they're not so unless you describe the don't decide everything about units and everything that there were running on contract for this domain names and numbers and stuff like that on behalf of the community colleges tests and all the monster study from the organization so the only have power over the new problem domain so don't have the power of the common domain enormously luminous you don't or city genes with so it's a city or state we might have the power and I can has nothing to do with that so could you get to the questions now is of the questions more show that I can use some of the world the tree and other people can microphone number 2 things thank you for the great lecture it's so 1 actually is the reason why we some legal activities are tolerated by these and some like child abuse is not are and that's a great question I think that what it comes down to it is is socially acceptable so when you have it why why the does some activity where white some illegal activity like smoking a joint outside but not cause you to have the police and other activities like murdering somebody would on it's all about what is socially acceptable to the people around you and what is socially acceptable to the people around them and in the case of these somebody is appearing with the people with serve the pyruvate somebody else looks at that answers i it's not I don't feel it that's a problem somebody else looks at them as as I don't feel that people who think that is a problem and so it's OK I to question do we have an internet questions no on the microphone and the 1 please why do you think of that cooperate as being morally but not mutually responsible for what content except that have worked worked so well for Makoto and get Q and doesn't work at all for a social media all great great question why it doesn't work if I understand you probably like Twitter is still a practical on it so is that clear has on itself from growing too but it's it's a it's basically in institutional governance systems they said like were in charge everybody is flat here on so on top of a networked governance system built in in a form of institutional governance system and the institutional governance system it's like a high school it's just it's terrible on so I should use this opportunity to plug mastered on because mass on as an example of a system which is federated and looks well it doesn't look exactly like the GP but I think it will in 5 years if I had 1 hopefully brief questions from 2 points that's how i um thank you very much for talking about BGP uh is a newsletter that the GPI and uh I was kind of wondering if you can help answer question and that's that some executive you BGP is kind of like a static protocol and was stopped was written Antonacci it's it's been a little bit extended beyond that my concern is like with uh with a rogue countries or someone else of harnessing IP blocks and like singling traffic for google . com replace the dot com by which is happens several times in the last couple years can you think of a way where you can either um did it at the GPU conquer that problem of war with the new decent protocol to conquer that problem of filters filters filters basically I don't know that much about BGP but on I know that some people are in the business of making the filters from the data the data that's was database that is to say this is which allowed to an ounce school this is will build a filter that's what your your box consent to us on the problem is that our eyes he's a lazy and we don't have of we all have standardized stuff for making these filters so we end up with a lot of people just sitting no filter saying you know for everyone and then you know China announces Google and all the traffic goes like this the and that's all for today thank you cannot we thank was that it
it on and the pick the the fact that the


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