Blockchain and Networking
John R. Levine
johnl at iecc.com
Tue Jan 23 15:39:08 UTC 2018
Thanks for this note -- I couldn't ask for a better explanation of why
blockchains don't solve any actual real world problems.
Trust problems are difficult, and waving hands and saying decentralize!
solves nothing. For the nanog-related example of validating AS origin,
the problem isn't keeping the database, it's figuring out who can make
authoritative statements about each block of IP addresses. That is an
inherently hierarchical question since all IP blocks originally trace back
to allocations from IANA.
We can have arguments about the best way to document the chain of
ownership, and conspiracy theories about how the evil RIRs are planning
to steal our precious bodily flu^W^WIPs, but "put it in a blockchain!"
On Tue, 23 Jan 2018, Jimmy Hess wrote:
> On Tue, Jan 9, 2018 at 10:22 AM, William Herrin <bill at herrin.us> wrote:
>> On Tue, Jan 9, 2018 at 1:07 AM, John R. Levine <johnl at iecc.com> wrote:
> The promise of blockchain is fraud-resistant recordkeeping, database
> management, AND
> resource management maintained by a distributed decentralized network which
> eliminates or reduces the extent to which there are central points of trust
> involved in the recordkeeping,
> AND can implement resource-management rules or policies programmatically
> and in an unbiased way (E.G. "Smart Contracts").
> For example: A decentralized internet number registry could use a blockchain
> as the means of making the public records showing the transferrence of the
> ownership of a particular internet number from the originator to the
> The potential is there to go a step beyond replacing RPKI, as a blockchain
> could be the AS number authority itself, thus eliminating the need to
> have any centralized organizations for tracking and managing
> number resource assignments.
>> How about validating whether a given AS is an acceptable origin for a set
>>>> of prefixes?
>> That's a job for ordinary PKI. Any time you have a trusted central
>> authority to serve as an anchor, ordinary PKI works fine. The RIRs serve as
> See: That's the problem. Ordinary PKI DEPENDS on centralized trust --
> that is, with PKI there are corruptible or potentially corruptible or
> compromisable entities in your system that you assign an unwarranted or
> unnecessary level of trust to.
> That would include organizations such AS Number and IP Address registries.
> Under the current system, they retain an Unwarranted level of trust, for
> example: ARIN Could Delete an IP address allocation or an AS number
> allocation after it was assigned, because someone else told them to,
> or maybe someone didn't like the content on your website and
> someone who manipulated or legally forced the central figure to do so.
> This would include whatever entities can be signing authorities of your PKI.
> This includes any organization with unsecured resource management
> such as the DNS Root server, TLD Server operators, and Domain registrars.
> Which includes the risks:
> (1) The signing authority could be breached by an outsider or insider
> (2) The signing authority could prove untrustworthy or later change
> the rules.
> (3) The signing authority could be covertly corrupted by a government
> or foreign power: to support nefarious goals or surveilance or
> For example: A DNS Registrar or TLD Registry could make a change to the DS
> Key or remove
> the DS Key and confiscate a domain to intercept traffic, without even the
> of the original registrant.
John Levine, johnl at iecc.com, Primary Perpetrator of "The Internet for Dummies",
Please consider the environment before reading this e-mail. https://jl.ly
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