Status: Under discussion
Authors: Carlos Friacascfriacas
Jordi Palet Martinez
|Submitted: 17th May 2019|
1.0 Summary of the problem being addressed by this proposal
This proposal aims to clarify that resource hijacking is not accepted as normal practice within AFRINIC service region, primarily because it negates the core purpose of running a (Regional Internet) Registry. The proposal is not concerned with simple operational mistakes – it is intended to address deliberate hijacking events.
A "hijack" is defined as announcing a prefix to another network without the resource holder's consent, or the act of leasing or selling numbering resources which have exclusive rights of use by third parties (again, without their consent). Hijacking is not acceptable behavior and there must be consequences for those that have a service agreement (either directly or indirectly) with AFRINIC. This proposal aims to clarify that an intentional hijack is indeed a policy violation.
It is important to state that victims from intentional, persistent, hijacking events are not only legitimate resource holders, but also any other third-party network who receives routing information which was not originated with the approval of a legitimate resource holder. This broader set of victims, which can be virtually any network in the world, are also subject to losses caused by communication tampering or interference (committed through a hijack event).
Resource hijacking (while not limited to the below) is commonly observed to have several objectives:
- Diverting law enforcement from the real origin of packets tied with illegal activities;
- Temporarily making use of address space without any maintenance cost associated (i.e. RIR membership);
- Impersonating third party networks and services;
- Eavesdropping on the traffic of third-party networks (i.e. man-in-the-middle attacks);
- Disrupting IP communications between two or more third party networks.
a. Arguments Supporting the Proposal
- Resource hijacking completely invalidates the purpose of a Regional Internet Registry;
- There is a gap in the AFRINIC policies, which allows the support of hijacking operations with a set of legitimate obtained resources from the Registry;
- The legitimate resource holders need to see their exclusive rights of usage better defended at Registry level;
- Having a rule/policy in place at AFRINIC against resource hijacking might prevent some actors to engage in such abusive practices;
- If nothing changes in this field, the reputation of AFRINIC and the AFRINIC service region will continue to be affected from a cybersecurity perspective due to hijacking events.
b. Arguments Opposing the Proposal
- Neither AFRINIC community or the AFRINIC are the “Routing Police”.
Mitigation/counter-argument: Nobody will try to dictate to anyone how their routing policy should be at any given moment. However, AFRINIC needs to be able to choose not to enter into (or maintain) a contractual relationship with people/companies that are performing resource hijacks. There are already enough sources of historic and almost real-time routing data which function as a worldwide observatory. From these sources, it is possible to accurately evaluate who is performing resource hijacks and harming (or trying to harm) third party networks by doing so. The external experts are mere evaluators, who can use available sets of routing data to determine whether resource hijacking events have taken place, and whether were intentional.
- A policy violation can be determined following a simple mistake done during BGP operation.
Mitigation/counter-argument: Firstly, initiating a process relies on a report. Then the expert analysis will determine if hijacking is a common action from the AFRINIC member that the report was issued about, or if they only happen to have made an operational error. Data about (global) routing protocol is massive, and if the experts do not find enough related evidence, then the report will be dismissed.
- This proposal places AFRINIC in a difficult legal territory.
Mitigation/counter-argument: AFRINIC follows the rules/policies issued by the community. However, if a suspected hijacker issues a lawsuit against the AFRINIC, legal insurance can be a possibility (even if there is an associated cost).
- A single innocent party wrongly accused is worse than one hundred resource hijackers stopped.
Mitigation/counter-argument: While this is valid within almost all law jurisdictions, it does not prevent the existence of rules or laws. The proposal is simply trying to end a clear gap in AFRINIC region ruleset.
- Acknowledging more policy violations, will not improve global routing security. Tools such as RPKI, MANRS or other should still be used instead.
Mitigation/counter-argument: The degree of RPKI or MANRS deployment is still very low, and this policy is needed to address this lack of deployment. The need for this policy should be reviewed in a few years when different stages of deployment are reached by RPKI, MANRS and other tools.
2.0 Summary of how this proposal addresses the problem
Ensure that there is an explicit policy about this problem and the community can tackle it.
A new section will be inserted into the CPM. The numbering of this section and the exact placement in the policy manual, is at the discretion of AFRINIC staff.
Hijacks happen on an almost daily basis. Resource hijacking happens mostly but not exclusively through the use of eBGP. In the rest of this document, "hijacks" must be interpreted as the announcement of any kind of resource (IPv4, IPv6, ASN), without the consent of the legitimate resource holder, including unallocated/unassigned ones.
Hijacks have different visibility characteristics. They can be on a global scale (propagated to all networks) or restricted (only one or some networks). Their impacts can also vary, and it is not only resource holders who are affected, but also networks (and end users) who receive illegitimate/hijacked routes and suffer the indirect consequences of this.
There are already initiatives and technologies such as MANRS and RPKI, which unfortunately are not enough to significantly reduce hijacks. While MANRS and RPKI are strongly encouraged, policy should address the lack of community rules about hijacking. Through this document, the AFRINIC community clarifies that hijacking is not an acceptable practice.
AFRINIC is not a mere “virtual land registry”, due to the fact it also has a role in the distribution of resources and is a membership-based organization with a charter to support a larger community of users. Any persistent hijack can be understood as undermining AFRINIC credibility as a registry, thus policy is needed as a form of industry self-regulation.
This policy does not try to address problems caused by operational errors or occasional hijacks, but instead tries to create a way for victims to report persistent intentional hijacks. By making more of these cases public and searchable, each Autonomous System will have additional information to inform its decisions about interconnection.
2.0 Resource Hijacking is a Policy Violation
A hijack is generally understood to be the announcement of routes to third parties without the consent of the resource holder. This is considered to be a violation of AFRINIC policy.
A hijack of numbering resources or the announcement of unallocated or unassigned IP addressing space or Autonomous System Numbers to third parties are also considered a policy violation. The victim of a hijack is not only the legitimate owner of the hijacked resources, but also those who receive announcements of hijacked prefixes. On a sale or lease context, both the legitimate owner as the party paying for the resource usage are victims.
Only reports in which the suspected hijacker is subject to AFRINIC policies can be investigated.
3.0 Scope: Accidental vs. Deliberate
A distinction can be made between accidental or deliberate hijacks from available routing datasets, looking at parameters such as duration, recurrence, possible goals, and the size of hijacked blocks. Other parameters may also be considered in the future.
Accidental events usually emerge from situations where a hijacked prefix or ASN is very similar to other resources held by the source of the hijack.
4.0 Lines of Action
AFRINIC is not able to monitor the occurrence of resource hijacks or assess whether they are policy violations. It must therefore rely on external parties, both to report hijacks and to determine whether they are deliberate.
Reports sent to AFRINIC need to include a minimum set of details, such as: “Networks Affected”, “Offender ASN”, “Why am I reporting this Hijack? (Holder or Receiving Party)”, “Hijacked Prefixes/ASNs” and “Timespan”. This is not a definitive list and ot her details may also be required.
AFRINIC will provide a web-based form (or equivalent alternatives) to submit reports. Information regarding the hijacked routes/ASNs reported will be made publicly available to limit the risk of duplicate reports being submitted.
The involved parties will be notified as soon as they are identified. This will allow them to provide any relevant information and mitigate the hijack, avoiding further damages and possibly false claims.
AFRINIC will define a pool of worldwide experts who can assess whether reported hijacks constitute policy violations. Experts from this pool will provide a judgement regarding each reported case, no later than six weeks from the moment the report was received. If this judgement report is not completed within six weeks, the case will be dismissed.
Direct upstream or transit providers of a suspected hijacker that facilitate a hijack through their networks should be notified about the publication of a judgement report. This is not to be considered a formal warning and a response is not required. However, the notification will ask if they can provide further information or identify anything odd.
The expert investigation could suggest other related organizations (such as multiple LIRs from a single business group), which may be considered by AFRINIC in the event of a future closure process. This possibility aims to prevent hijackers from continuing their activities from a simulated customer's network. The expert investigation could also identify relationships between LIRs/End Users within the same business groups.
If an alleged hijacker can demonstrate that their infrastructure was improperly manipulated by third parties (for example, compromised routers), then the hijack cannot be considered intentional.
5.0 Expert: Definition
An expert is an external party to AFRINIC, ideally with at least five years’ experience with eBGP from dealing with configurations related to peering and transit providers. Experts should be familiar with the common forms of interconnection agreements, both within and outside of AFRINIC service region.
6.0 Pool of Experts
The selection procedure for the pool of experts should be open and managed by AFRINIC, possibly in collaboration with other RIRs:
The procedure must incorporate at least the following elements:
Only hijacking events that occur after this policy has been implemented are eligible to be considered.
9.0 Report and Evidence Eligibility
Only networks directly affected by a hijack may file a report.
A report can only be filed:
A report is not admissible if the person reporting it was not affected in any way by the hijack.
Evidence older than six months, counted from the time a report is submitted, cannot be considered or included in any expert report.
10.0 Sources of Information for Experts:
ExamplesThe following is only a reference, not an exhaustive list:
11.0 Guidelines for Experts
All non-private information disclosed by accused parties when objecting to a specific report should be included in the expert report (at least in an appendix).
Company registries (www.ebr.org and similar) can be useful in determining if different companies can be associated with the same actor.
Special care must be given to situations where a hijacked prefix is very similar to a prefix legitimately held by an accused party. In these cases, checking to see if the legitimate prefix was announced within the same period may shed some light on the case.
Leaks and squatting are outside the scope of this policy. Any case strictly related to leaks or squatting should be dismissed.
12.0 Possible Objections
A report containing an expert judgement on the case will be sent to the suspected hijacker. This party will then have a maximum of four weeks to object to any conclusions contained in the report. Any objections are then assessed and ruled as admissible/non-admissible by the experts, during a maximum two-weeks review period. Following this, the report is finalized and published.
Following publication of the final expert report, the suspected hijacker has a maximum of two weeks in which they can file an appeal. If an appeal is filed, an alternative set of experts (a minimum of three) will review the report for a maximum of four weeks. In order to maintain a ruling of “intentional hijack”, all experts involved in the review need to agree that this has occurred. The results of this review are final and cannot be further appealed.
Once the report has been published, any policy violation will need to be ratified by all experts involved in the case, following a two-week public consultation on the report. If ratification is not declared unanimously, the report will be dismissed. Ratification will be delayed in case of an appeal, until the second set of experts has published its review. Experts can refuse to ratify a report based on undisclosed information sources or input from the public consultation.
15.0 Transition Period
As soon as the policy implementation is completed, a transition period of six months will be established. This will allow organizations that announce unassigned address space or Autonomous System Numbers (due to operational errors or other non-malicious reasons) to receive only a warning. Existing “Bogons” at the time of policy implementation should be treated as exclusions and cases where they are referenced should be dismissed before awarding a case to experts.
16.0 Holders of Legacy Resources
If an accused party is a Legacy Resource Holder (either with a direct or indirect relation to AFRINIC), the registration of their legacy resources will not be affected, as policies are not applicable to these resources. However, if a policy violation is ratified, what is described in section 17.0 will apply, in which case other RIPE NCC services such as reverse DNS or Resource Certification (RPKI) could be denied to the accused party.
17.0 Continued violations regarding Hijacking of Resources from the same party
In instances where a resource holder has regularly and repeatedly hijacked network resources, not allocated or authorized for their use, relevant policy or membership procedures for member closure/resource recovery will be initiated. This policy does not endorse the initiation of a member account closure procedure on the basis of a single policy violation.
The policy proposal has already been submitted to RIPE, LACNIC and ARIN. Work in progress for APNIC submission. In some cases, it has been already published and discussions started in the relevant mail exploders.
• RIPE: https://www.ripe.net/participate/policies/proposals/2019-03
• ARIN: https://www.arin.net/participate/policy/proposals/2019/ARIN_prop_266_orig/
• LACNIC: https://politicas.lacnic.net/politicas/detail/id/LAC-2019-5