Understanding BGP Misconfiguration

  • Ratul Mahajan
  • David Wetherall
  • Tom Anderson

SIGCOMM'02, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. |

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It is well-known that simple, accidental BGP configuration errors can disrupt Internet connectivity. Yet little is known about the frequency of misconfiguration or its causes, except for the few spectacular incidents of widespread outages. In this paper, we present the first quantitative study of BGP misconfiguration. Over a three week period, we analyzed routing table advertisements from 23 vantage points across the Internet backbone to detect incidents of misconfiguration. For each incident we polled the ISP operators involved to verify whether it was a misconfiguration, and to learn the cause of the incident. We also actively probed the Internet to determine the impact of misconfiguration on connectivity. Surprisingly, we find that configuration errors are pervasive, with 200-1200 prefixes (0.2-1.0% of the BGP table size) suffering from misconfiguration each day. Close to 3 in 4 of all new prefix advertisements were results of misconfiguration. Fortunately, the connectivity seen by end users is surprisingly robust to misconfigurations. While misconfigurations can substantially increase the update load on routers, only one in twenty five affects connectivity. While the causes of misconfiguration are diverse, we argue that most could be prevented through better router design.