Google BGP Hijack Knocks Japan Offline for Several Hours

Japan suffered a widespread internet disruption on Friday with a number of services including banking, ticket reservation portals, gaming websites and more knocked offline for Japanese users.

A border gateway protocol (BGP) blunder saw droves of Japanese internet traffic go nowhere on Sunday after Google accidentally became a transit provider for traffic from Japanese internet giants like NTT and KDDI. NTT is Japan’s largest internet service provider.

A core protocol of the internet, a BGP is used to distribute routing information between different networks. Fundamentally, a BGP advertisement makes announcements for the rest of the internet to route information from a source to a destination.

A BGP is designed for a smaller, trusted network which lends itself to its most profound shortcoming. A network administrator has the means to check and filter information in route advertisements, which leaves the protocol and the wider internet vulnerable due to human error.

Google, notably, does not provide any transit services, despite being one of the largest content delivery networks (CDN) in the world. As explained by BGP Mon, Google “leaked” a big route table to Verizon, leading to some 135,000 prefixes announced on the Google-Verizon stream. This, in essence, led to a sudden switch of internet routes to a platform that wasn’t equipped to handle the traffic.

Such was the “widespread internet disruption” in Japan that the government is looking into the outage. Japan’s Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry has directed telecommunications companies to submit reports on the incident.

A report from the Japan Times also made note of cybersecurity fears amid these widespread internet outages.

An excerpt from the report read:

On the stock market, shares of cybersecurity firms shot up soon after reports emerged that various internet services had been disrupted.

Image credit: Pixabay.