Indexed on: 20 Apr '15Published on: 20 Apr '15Published in: Computer Science - Networking and Internet Architecture
The vulnerability of the Internet has been demonstrated by prominent IP prefix hijacking events. Major outages such as the China Telecom incident in 2010 stimulate speculations about malicious intentions behind such anomalies. Surprisingly, almost all discussions in the current literature assume that hijacking incidents are enabled by the lack of security mechanisms in the inter-domain routing protocol BGP. In this paper, we discuss an attacker model that accounts for the hijacking of network ownership information stored in Regional Internet Registry (RIR) databases. We show that such threats emerge from abandoned Internet resources (e.g., IP address blocks, AS numbers). When DNS names expire, attackers gain the opportunity to take resource ownership by re-registering domain names that are referenced by corresponding RIR database objects. We argue that this kind of attack is more attractive than conventional hijacking, since the attacker can act in full anonymity on behalf of a victim. Despite corresponding incidents have been observed in the past, current detection techniques are not qualified to deal with these attacks. We show that they are feasible with very little effort, and analyze the risk potential of abandoned Internet resources for the European service region: our findings reveal that currently 73 /24 IP prefixes and 7 ASes are vulnerable to be stealthily abused. We discuss countermeasures and outline research directions towards preventive solutions.