The damage could have been far worse however, and the incident shows just how fragile one of the Internet's core protocols really is, security experts say.
The problem started just before 9 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time Friday and lasted less than half an hour. It was kicked off when RIPE NCC (Reseaux IP Europeens Network Coordination Centre) and Duke ran an experiment that involved the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) — used by routers to know where to send their traffic on the Internet. RIPE started announcing BGP routes that were configured a little differently from normal because they used an experimental data format. RIPE's data was soon passed from router to router on the Internet, and within minutes it became clear that this was causing problems.
That shouldn't have happened on systems that were properly configured to support BGP, wrote RIPE NCC's Erik Romijn in a note http://www.merit.edu/mail.archives/nanog/msg11505.html posted to the NANOG (North American Network Operators Group) discussion list. But nonetheless for a brief period Friday morning, about 1 percent of all the Internet's traffic was affected by the snafu, as routers could not properly process the BGP routes they were being sent."
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