Killing the internet – Maestro a novel Link Flooding Attack against a BGP nodes

2 min read

hallo Liefling,

As you might have figured by now, I love research about large scale Internet attacks and this week’s paper is again in that area. The paper presents a novel way on how to more intelligent attack the BGP network, which underlays all of the routing decisions on the internet.

All you need is a botnet and an AS, both of which you can get quite easily, and then have the power to take down entire countries.

Apart from the basics and the attack, the paper also discusses mitigations and how to apply them in the field. The attack itself is quite easy to understand, so give it a go!


We present the Maestro attack, a novel Link Flooding Attack (LFA) that leverages control-plane traffic engineering techniques to concentrate botnet-sourced Distributed Denial of Service flows on transit links. Executed from a compromised or malicious Autonomous System (AS), Maestro advertises specfic-prefix routes poisoned for selected ASes to collapse inbound traffic paths onto a single target link. A greedy heuristic fed by publicly available AS relationship data iteratively builds the set of ASes to poison. Given a compromised BGP speaker with advantageous positioning relative to the target link in the Internet topology, an adversary can expect to enhance total flow density by more than 30%. For a large botnet (e.g., Mirai), that translates to augmenting a DDoS by more than
a million additional infected hosts. Interestingly, the size of the adversary-controlled AS plays little role in this amplification effect. Devastating attacks on core links can be executed by small, resource-limited ASes. To understand the scope of the attack, we evaluate widespread Internet link vulnerability across several metrics, including BGP betweenness and botnet flow density. We then assess where an adversary must be positioned to execute the attack most successfully. Finally, we present effective mitigations for network operators seeking to insulate themselves from this attack.

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It would be awesome if you could help growing our little paper community even more by sharing it with your circles (you can also @eu_frey me on Twitter for retweets :D):

If you have any paper recommendation for me, please do not hesitate to approach me via [email protected] (Please keep the Backend & DevOps topic focus in mind)

With much love,

Simon Frey

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