Cyber Security – CERTs, Policy, etc

What is Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) ?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Border Gateway Protocol

Mains level: Internet blackout

The outages at Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram occurred because of a problem in the company’s domain name system. At the heart of it was a BGP or Border Gateway Protocol issue.

What is BGP?

  • Simply put, it is the protocol that runs the internet or makes it work.
  • Since the internet is a network of networks, BGP is the mechanism that bounds it together.
  • When the BGP doesn’t work, internet routers can’t really figure out what to do and that leads to the internet not working.
  • The routers — big ones — keep up on updating other possible routes that are used to deliver network packets to the last possible source.
  • In this case, Facebook platforms were the last point of destination and BGP problem meant Facebook was unable to tell other networks know that it was on the internet.

How does it work?

  • The BGP is like an entity that is responsible for creating and more importantly updating maps that lead you to sites like Google, Facebook or YouTube.
  • So if someone is responsible for making and updating the map, and they make a mistake, then the traffic — or users — will not end up reaching that place.

How did a BGP issue affect Facebook?

  • A BGP update message informs a router of any changes you’ve made to a prefix advertisement or entirely withdraws the prefix.
  • There were a lot of routing changes from Facebook last night and then routes were withdrawn, Facebook’s Domain Name Server went offline.

Role of DNS

  • DNS is the phonebook of the Internet.
  • People access information online through domain names — or
  • Internet browsers use IP or Internet Protocol addresses and what DNS does is that it translates domain names to IP addresses to browsers can load Internet resources.
  • If DNS is the internet’s phone book, BGP is its postal service.
  • When a user enters data in the internet, BGP determines the best available paths that data could travel.


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