Do Not Complicate Routing Security with Voodoo Economics

Sharon Goldberg goldbe at cs.bu.edu
Sun Sep 4 15:16:45 CDT 2011


In response to Randy's three criticisms of our recent
SIGCOMM'11/NANOG'52 paper, which is available here:

http://www.cs.bu.edu/~goldbe/papers/SBGPtrans_full.pdf
http://www.cs.toronto.edu/~phillipa/sbgpTrans.html

Point 1: "The ISP economic and incentive model is overly naive to the
point of being misleading"

To clarify, our paper focuses on the following question:

Given that we want as many ASes as possible to deploy path validation
(S*BGP), what sort of incremental deployment strategy should we use?

To answer this question, one first needs to understand why an AS might
have incentive to deploy S*BGP in the first place.  There are many
possible reasons (e.g., "the benefits of security" that Randy
mentions, pressure from regulators, governments, or other ASes, PR
opportunities, etc), in this paper we focused on one very specific
incentive:

An ISP might deploy S*BGP in order to increase the volume of traffic
that it transits for its customers.

We use this incentive as an "economic lever" that can be used to drive
global S*BGP deployment.   The paper shows that, even disregarding
other economic levers (like security concerns, regulations, PR, etc),
this incentive is enough to cause the majority of the Internet to
deploy S*BGP, even if (a) security plays a very small role in the BGP
decision process (i.e. security considerations influence routing
decisions only _after_ Local-Pref and AS-PATH considerations), and
even if (b) only a very small number (about 10) of ASes are "early
adopters" that initially deploy S*BGP.

Other economic levers (e.g. "the benefits of security") are
complementary, and can only aid in driving S*BGP deployment.

Our model assumes that ISPs have incentives to increase the volume of
customer traffic that they transit because "the dominant form of
pricing" in the Internet is based on traffic volumes sent, that is
95/5 percentile pricing:

http://drpeering.net/AskDrPeering/blog/articles/Ask_DrPeering/Entries/2011/4/29_The_Origins_of_95_5.html

Thus, the more traffic (at the 95 percentile) that an ISP transits for
its customer, the more they can charge that customer, and thus the
more revenue they earn.

Of course, this is not the case for *every* ISP: some ISPs may not use
95/5 percentile pricing at all, some ISPs may actually be losing money
by providing Internet transit, and are instead earning all their
revenue from other sources (e.g. IPTV, VPN, advertising, etc.), and
moreover, content providers and residential ISPs are connecting
directly more often, thus circumventing the charges of provider ISPs.
 However, major ISPs are still needed to reach most destinations, and
smaller ISPs have a choice between multiple providers:

http://www.peeringdb.com/
http://valas.gtnoise.net/lib/exe/fetch.php?media=comm083-valancius.pdf

The fact that transit service prices are plummeting is, amongst other
things, evidence of the fierce competition between ISPs over customer
traffic.  The key point of our incremental deployment strategy is to
give ISPs one more dimension along which they can compete; namely, the
ability to provide secure routes to their customers. This point is
still valid as long as _most_ ISPs earn _some_ of their revenue from
transiting customer traffic.  The existence of services like Guavus,
suggest that for many ISPs, this is indeed the case:

http://www.guavus.com/solutions/tiered-pricing

Point 2: "The security threat model is unrealistic and misguided"

Our paper does not present a security threat model at all. We do not
present a new security solution. We do not deal with the question of
whether or not S*BGP should be deployed at all, which specific
protocol (e.g. SBGP,soBGP, etc) should be deployed, or which security
guarantees should be provided. This is the subject of many previous
works. From Section 2.1: "Because our study is indifferent to attacks
and adversaries, it applies equally to each of these protocols [i.e.
SBGP, soBGP]."

As explained above, we focus only on the question "Given that we want
as many ASes as possible to adopt S*BGP, what sort of incremental
deployment strategy should we use?" Thus, we are simply trying to
maximize the number of ASes that deploy S*BGP.

Point 3: "The simulations are questionable."

>From Section 8: "The wide range of parameters involved in modeling
S*BGP deployment means that our model cannot be predictive of S*BGP
deployment in practice. Instead, our model was designed to (a) capture
a few of the most crucial issues that might drive S*BGP deployment,
while (b) taking the approach that simplicity is preferable to
complexity."

Because ASes are unwilling to divulge information about routing
policies, peering agreements, etc, every study of interdomain routing
must contend with a dearth of ground truth with respect to AS-level
topology, routing policies, and traffic matrices.  We preformed
extensive simulations to deal with this lack of ground truth. Please
see Section 8 of our paper for detailed discussion about these issues.
 Here I'll address Randy's specific criticisms with direct quotes from
our paper:

Randy: "The paper also completely ignores the rise of the content providers as
described so well in SIGCOMM 2010 by Labovitz et alia[2] It is not
clear how to ‘fix’ the economic model, especially as[3] says you can
not do so with rigor.  Once one starts, e.g. the paper may lack
Tier-N peering richness which is believed to be at the edges, we have
bought into the game for which there is no clear end."

Section 6.8.1: "Published AS-level topologies are known to have poor
visibility into peering links at the edge of the AS-level topology
[31]. This is particularly problematic for CPs,
because they peer with many other ASes to cut down costs of delivering
content [14] .. Thus, for sensitivity analysis, we created an
augmented AS graph with ... additional peering edges from the five
Content Providers."

For more details on this graph, see Appendix D "AS graph Sensitivity
analysis".   Also, based on Labovitz's paper, we ran simulations where
the content providers were assumed to source a vast majority (up to
50%) of total Internet traffic (as discussed in Section 3.1 and
6.8.1).  Please see Section 6.8.2 to see how these assumptions
affected our results.

Randy: "The paper's simulations really should be shown not to rely on the
popular but highly problematic Gao-Rexford model of inter-provider
relationships, that providers prefer customers over peers (in fact, a
number of global Tier-1 providers have preferred peers for decades), and
that relationships are valley free, which also has significant
exceptions.  Yet these invalid assumptions may underpin the simulation
results."

Section 8.3: "In practice,... the local routing policies used by each
AS, ... are arbitrary and not publicly known. Thus, we use a standard
model of routing policies (Appendix A) based on business relationship
and path length [16, 6]."

Here we'll interject to say that while there are definitely examples
that lie outside this
model (e.g. ASes the prefer peer routes over provider routes), it
currently remains the only general model we have, to date, of
interdomain routing.  As such, we note in Section 8.3:

"Routing policies are likely to impact our results by determining (a)
AS path lengths (longer AS paths mean it is harder to secure routes),
and (b) tiebreak set size (Section 6.6). For example, we speculate
that considering shortest path routing policy would lead to overly
optimistic results; shortest-path routing certainly leads to shorter
AS paths, and possibly also to larger tiebreak sets."

Thus, while we cannot hope to accurately model every aspect of
interdomain routing, nor predict how S*BGP deployment will proceed in
practice, we believe that ISP competition over customer traffic is a
significant economic lever for driving global S*BGP deployment.

Sincerely,
Sharon Goldberg and Michael Schapira

-- 
Sharon Goldberg
Assistant Professor, Computer Science, Boston University
http://www.cs.bu.edu/~goldbe


On Sun, Sep 4, 2011 at 6:02 AM, Randy Bush <randy at psg.com> wrote:
> [ http://archive.psg.com/110904.broadside.html ]
>
>        Do Not Complicate Routing Security with Voodoo Economics
>                              a broadside
>
> A recent NANOG presentation and SIGCOMM paper by Gill, Schapira, and
> Goldberg[1] drew a lot of 'discussion' from the floor.  But that
> discussion missed significant problems with this work.  I raise this
> because of fear that uncritical acceptance of this work will be used as
> the basis for others' work, or worse, misguided public policy.
>  o The ISP economic and incentive model is overly naive to the point of
>   being misleading,
>  o The security threat model is unrealistic and misguided, and
>  o The simulations are questionable.
>
> Basic ISP economics are quite different from those described by the
> authors.  Above the tail links to paying customers, the expenses of
> inter-provider traffic are often higher than the income, thanks to the
> telcos' race to the bottom.  In this counter-intuitive world, transit
> can often be cheaper than peering.  I.e. history shows that in the rare
> cases where providers have been inclined to such games, they usually
> shed traffic not stole it, the opposite of what the paper presumes.  The
> paper also completely ignores the rise of the content providers as
> described so well in SIGCOMM 2010 by Labovitz et alia[2]
>
> It is not clear how to ‘fix’ the economic model, especially as[3] says
> you can not do so with rigor.  Once one starts, e.g. the paper may lack
> Tier-N peering richness which is believed to be at the edges, we have
> bought into the game for which there is no clear end.
>
> But this is irrelevant, what will motivate deployment of BGP security is
> not provider traffic-shifting.  BGP security is, as its name indicates,
> about security, preventing data stealing (think banking
> transactions[4]), keeping miscreants from originating address space of
> others (think YouTube incident) or as attack/spam sources, etc.
>
> The largest obstacle to deployment of BGP security is that the
> technology being deployed, RPKI-based origin validation and later
> BGPsec, are based on an X.509 certificate hierarchy, the RPKI.  This
> radically changes the current inter-ISP web of trust model to one having
> ISPs' routing at the mercy of the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs).
> Will the benefits of security - no more YouTube incidents, etc. - be
> perceived as worth having one's routing at the whim of an
> non-operational administrative monopoly?  Perhaps this is the real
> economic game here, and will cause a change in the relationship between
> the operators and the RIR cartel.
>
> The paper's simulations really should be shown not to rely on the
> popular but highly problematic3 Gao-Rexford model of inter-provider
> relationships, that providers prefer customers over peers (in fact, a
> number of global Tier-1 providers have preferred peers for decades), and
> that relationships are valley free, which also has significant
> exceptions.  Yet these invalid assumptions may underpin the simulation
> results.
>
> ---
>
> Randy Bush <randy at psg.com>
> Dubrovnik,  2011.9.4
>
> [1] P. Gill, M. Schapira, and S. Goldberg, Let the Market Drive
> Deployment: A Strategy for Transitioning to BGP Security, SIGCOMM 2011,
> August 2011.
> http://conferences.sigcomm.org/sigcomm/2011/papers/sigcomm/p14.pdf
>
> [2] [1] C. Labovitz, S. Iekel-Johnson, D. McPherson, J. Oberheide, and
> F. Jahanian, “Internet inter-domain traffic,” in SIGCOMM '10:
> Proceedings of the ACM SIGCOMM 2010 conference on SIGCOMM, 2010.
>
> [3] M. Roughan, W. Willinger, O. Maennel, D. Perouli, and R. Bush, 10
> Lessons from 10 Years of Measuring and Modeling the Internet's
> Autonomous Systems, IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications,
> Vol. 29, No. 9, pp. 1-12, Oct. 2011.
> https://archive.psg.com/111000.TenLessons.pdf
>
> [4] A. Pilosov, T. Kapela. Stealing The Internet An Internet-Scale Man
> In The Middle Attack, Defcon 16, August, 2008.
> http://www.defcon.org/images/defcon-16/dc16-presentations/defcon-16-pilosov-kapela.pdf
>
>




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