PCH.net questions and thoughts - Re: Prefix hijacking by AS20115

John Todd jtodd at pch.net
Tue Sep 29 22:09:30 UTC 2015

Since it’s come up on the list and we haven’t given a public update 
recently, I thought I’d just write a quick note on the state of 
INOC-DBA.  For those who aren’t familiar with it, INOC-DBA is a 
SIP-based hotline communications system between NOCs and CERTs:



PCH has been the secretariat for INOC-DBA for the past thirteen years as 
a function of our not-for-profit purpose, serving network operators.  
During that time, the INOC-DBA back-end and self-provisioning systems 
have been completely replaced three times, and we’re currently at work 
on moving from the SER-driven 3.0 series of releases to a more modern 
BE7k-driven 4.0 system.  Because INOC-DBA has only been intermittently 
directly grant-funded, sometimes, like now, it is funded entirely out of 
our overhead budget, so progress can be slow.  The consequence is that, 
in order to make headway on the 4.0 transition, we’ve had to move 
people off of active support of the old 3.0 self-provisioning system.  
So, it’s fine for people who are already using it, but there’s not 
currently a way to create a new user within the 3.0 system, nor for 
existing users to make significant changes to call routing.

ASNs have proven to be a good identifier, allowing network operators to 
communicate with each other in a way that’s vetted, while avoiding 
putting PCH in the position of judging who qualifies to join and who 
doesn't.  Whether you know the name of a network, or where it’s 
located, or even what timezone they’re in, you know them by their ASN. 
  And a hotline system that bypasses directories and receptionists and 
escalation chains is a quick and low-friction way of reaching someone 
who has the authority and access to resolve a problem.

While email is the most venerable and well-known communication method it 
is often filtered, missed, or funneled through helpdesks that don’t 
have sufficient clue, or are stymied by dealing with someone who isn’t 
one of their own customers.  Facebook and general-purpose chat systems 
are less than ideal as well, as they’re un-vetted and quickly suffer 
the same fate as email: if they’re paid attention to at all, filters 
or automated systems are put in place to block the noise.  So, a closed 
network for voice, video, presence and chat has proven to be an 
immediate, low-noise way for those network operators who choose to use 
it, to communicate with each other.  In the 4.0 system, XMPP chat using 
the same identifiers in the same closed network is a natural extension 
and the new feature that, though hardly revolutionary, we’re most 
looking forward to releasing.

The technical issues that were discussed in this thread about NAT/PAT 
problems are certainly valid, but can be circumvented in a number of 
different ways, some of which are addressed in our documentation. SIP 
and RTP can work through NAT if correctly configured in simple 
circumstances, or in the presence of a NAT-traversal server, such as is 
included in INOC-DBA.  An organization may have multiple INOC-DBA users 
and opt to have a SIP-capable system at the border of their network with 
one side facing the public Internet, and one side facing their private 
network, and which manages call flow and media handling (Asterisk, 
Freeswitch, or any one of a number of free or commercial SIP PBX-like 
systems will do this fairly easily; again, there are tutorials in our 
documentation).  This also allows after-hours routing to PSTN lines or 
to call groups as needed, controlled by a local administrator.  We also 
have considered keeping the media path through our servers, which aids 
the NAT traversal issue while not precluding local SIP enclaves as 
described above.

One of the things that we struggle with is maintaining an appropriate 
balance between, on the one hand, keeping the network operations 
community informed of the status of the system, so they don’t feel 
compelled to ask on NANOG, versus not pro-actively over-sharing on lists 
and making a nuisance of ourselves.  Admittedly, if the 4.0 transition 
were going faster, this would be less of an issue.

So, we’re glad of the continued interest (particularly in the NANOG 
community, where INOC-DBA is not as widely used as in, for instance, the 
LACNIC community), and we apologize for the slow transition to the new 
4.0 back-end and self-provisioning system.  As always, you can contact 
us directly about INOC-DBA related stuff on operator at pch.net


John Todd - jtodd at pch.net - +1-415-831-3123

On 29 Sep 2015, at 8:05, Bob Evans wrote:

> Nice of you to check Jim. This brings up the old idea - A long time 
> ago I
> had an INOC phone by PCH.NET - It never rang, as we filter our 
> outbound
> with detail everywhere we announce. ISPs need to provide us their 
> address
> list.
> And the few times I needed to use it , no one ever answered. ( It was 
> a
> decade ago before NANOG membership.) So after a while I too ignored 
> it.
> Maybe this was an idea ahead of it's time ? From this painful mishap, 
> it
> could have been a great solution for NOC Engineers to help each. I 
> find
> peeringdb often outdated as companies change around and sluggish 
> return
> call if at all.  Most are like a sales line number post.
> I see now a long list of registered networks in the PCH directory. Are
> networks actually paying attention and using it. Is it time to take
> another look ?  At midnight in your organization could you get a NOC
> person with " proper BGP skills and access " to answer and care about 
> a
> bad announcement ?
> https://inoc-dba-web.pch.net/inoc-dba/console.cgi?op=show_pubdir&list=org
> Link above shows lots more networks listed on the
> INOC-DBA Public Directory: Organizations
> But have you used it? Did it work for you when you needed it ?
> Any further comments are appreciated.
> This seems like a very good proper civil approach - maybe this or
> something like it ARIN might help promote and endorse as a benefit to 
> the
> community ? Be nice if with the cash they did something simple like 
> this
> and got all of us to use it? Special line forwarding ? A Emergency 
> Only
> NOC App for our phones for just this kind of situation - one that
> registers a specific ASN and pin code we set on the registration page 
> ?
> Thank You
> Bob Evans
> [snip]

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