Google’s services crashed worldwide for an hour recently after the company’s traffic was routed from its regular paths to paths through Nigeria, China, and Russia.
Engadget reports that Google services went down for an hour worldwide recently after the company’s IP addresses were re-routed from their usual paths to ones running through Nigeria, China, and Russia. Despite the fact that the government-owned company China Telecom was recently found to be routing Western carrier traffic through mainland China, Google told Ars Technica that they do not believe that the leak was malicious.
The company’s issues began when a carrier based out of Lagos in Nigeria declared that their system was the correct route for several hundred IP prefixes used by Google. This route was accepted by China Telecom which then declared it worldwide. This was then picked up by Transtelecom in Russia and other large ISP services around the world.
Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince told Ars Technica that the sequence of events points to a “big, ugly screw-up” rather than a premeditated malicious act by any of the company’s involved. “If there was something nefarious afoot, there would have been a lot more direct, and potentially less disruptive/detectable ways to reroute traffic,” said Prince. Instead, it might have been related to recent network meetings in Nigeria. “While setting up a new interconnection, the Nigerian ISP almost certainly inadvertently leaked the routing information to China Telecom who then leaked it out to the rest of the world.”
Google says that this was not a huge internal issue for the company or the data it hosts, as all of it is encrypted, but this is an example of how fragile seemingly robust internet services can be and how much of the internet’s operation still relies on trust.
The outage of Google services still would have affected G Suite customers worldwide, security research firm Thousand Eyes stated: “This incident at a minimum caused a massive denial of service to G Suite and Google Search. However, this also put valuable Google traffic in the hands of ISPs in countries with a long history of Internet surveillance.”