NSDI '05 Paper
[NSDI '05 Technical Program]
Detecting BGP Configuration Faults with Static Analysis
Nick Feamster and Hari Balakrishnan
Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
The Internet is composed of many independent autonomous systems (ASes)
that exchange reachability information to destinations using the Border
Gateway Protocol (BGP). Network operators in each AS configure BGP
routers to control the routes that are learned, selected, and
announced to other routers. Faults in BGP configuration can cause forwarding
loops, packet loss, and unintended paths between hosts, each of which
constitutes a failure of the Internet routing infrastructure.
This paper describes the design and implementation of rcc,
the router configuration checker, a tool that finds faults in BGP
configurations using static analysis.
rcc detects faults by checking constraints that are based on
a high-level correctness specification.
two broad classes of faults:
route validity faults, where routers may learn routes that do
not correspond to usable paths, and path visibility faults,
where routers may fail to learn routes for paths that exist in the
network. rcc enables network operators to test and debug
configurations before deploying them in an operational network,
improving on the status quo where most faults are detected only during
operation. rcc has been downloaded by more than sixty-five network
operators to date, some of whom have shared their configurations with
us. We analyze network-wide configurations from 17 different ASes to
detect a wide variety of faults and use these findings to motivate
improvements to the Internet routing infrastructure.
This paper describes the design, implementation, and evaluation of
the router configuration checker, a tool
that uses static analysis to detect faults in Border Gateway Protocol
By finding faults over a
distributed set of router configurations, rcc enables network
operators to test and debug configurations before deploying them in an
operational network. This approach improves on the status quo of
"stimulus-response" debugging where operators need to run
configurations in an operational network before finding faults.
Network operators use router configurations
reachability, express routing policy (e.g., transit and peering
relationships , inbound and outbound
routes , etc.), configure primary and backup
links , and perform traffic engineering across multiple
Configuring a network of BGP routers is like
writing a distributed program where complex feature interactions
occur both within one router and across multiple routers. This
complex process is exacerbated by the number of lines of code (we find
that a 500-router network typically has more than a million lines
of configuration), by
configuration being distributed across the routers in the network, by the
absence of useful high-level primitives in today's configuration
languages, by the diversity in vendor-specific configuration
languages, and by the number of ways in which the same high-level
functionality can be expressed in a configuration language.
As a result, router configurations are complex and
Faults in BGP configuration can seriously affect
end-to-end Internet connectivity,
leading to lost packets, forwarding loops,
and unintended paths.
Configuration faults include
invalid routes (including hijacked and leaked routes);
contract violations ; unstable
routes ; routing
loops [8,10]; and persistently oscillating
Section 2 discusses the
problems observed in operational networks in detail.
We find that rcc can detect many of these
Detecting BGP configuration faults poses several challenges.
defining a correctness specification for
BGP is difficult: its many modes of operation and myriad tunable
a great deal of flexibility in both the design of a network and in how that
design is implemented in the configuration itself.
Second, this high-level correctness specification must be used to derive
a set of constraints that can be tested against the actual
Finally, BGP configuration is distributed-analyzing
how a network configuration behaves requires both synthesizing
distributed configuration fragments and representing the configuration
in a form that makes it easy to test constraints.
This paper tackles these challenges and makes the following
First, we define two high-level aspects of correctness-path visibility
and route validity-and use this specification to derive
constraints that can be tested against
the BGP configuration. Path
visibility says that BGP will correctly propagate routes for existing,
usable IP-layer paths; essentially, it states that the control
path is propagating BGP routes correctly. Route validity says that, if
routers attempt to send data packets via these routes, then packets
will ultimately reach their intended destinations.
Second, we present the design and implementation of rcc.
rcc focuses on detecting faults that have the potential to cause
persistent routing failures. rcc is not concerned with
correctness during convergence (since any distributed protocol will
have transient inconsistencies during convergence). rcc's goal is
to detect problems that may exist in the steady state, even when the
protocol converges to some stable outcome.
Third, we use rcc to explore the extent of real-world BGP
configuration faults; this paper presents the first published analysis
of BGP configuration faults in real-world ISPs.
We have analyzed real-world,
deployed configurations from 17 different ASes and detected more than
1,000 BGP configuration faults that had previously gone undetected by
operators. These faults ranged from simple "single router" faults
(e.g., undefined variables) to complex, network-wide faults
involving interactions between multiple routers.
To date, rcc has been downloaded by over 65 network operators.
rcc is actually intended to be used before configurations are
rcc discovered many faults that could potentially cause failures in
live, operational networks.
These include: (1) faults that could have caused network partitions due
to errors in how external BGP information was being propagated to
routers inside an AS, (2) faults that cause invalid routes to propagate
inside an AS, and (3) faults in policy expression that caused routers to
advertise routes (and hence potentially forward packets) in a manner
inconsistent with the AS's desired policies.
Our findings indicate that configuration faults that can
cause serious failures are often not immediately apparent (i.e., the
failure that results
from a configuration fault may only be triggered by a specific failure
scenario or sequence of route advertisements). If rcc were used before
BGP configuration was deployed, we expect that it would be able to
detect many immediately active faults.
Our analysis of real-world configurations suggests that
most configuration faults stem from three main causes. First, the
mechanisms for propagating routes within a network are overly complex.
The main techniques used to propagate routes scalably within a network
(e.g., "route reflection with clusters") are easily misconfigured.
Second, many configuration faults arise because
configuration is distributed
across routers: even simple policy specifications require configuration
fragments on multiple routers in a network. Third,
configuring policy often involves low-level mechanisms (e.g., "route maps",
"community lists", etc.) that should be hidden from network
The rest of this paper proceeds as follows. Section 2
provides background on BGP configuration.
Section 3 describes the design of rcc.
Sections 4 and 5 discuss rcc's path
visibility and route validity tests. Section 6
describes implementation details. Section 7
presents configuration faults that rcc discovered in 17
operational networks. Section 8 addresses related work,
and Section 9 concludes.
2 Background and Motivation
Today's Internet comprises over 17,000 independently operated ASes that
exchange reachability information using BGP .
BGP distributes routes to destination prefixes via incremental updates.
Each router selects one best route to a destination, announces that
route to neighboring routers, and sends updates when the best route
changes. Each BGP update contains several attributes. These include
the destination prefix associated with the route; the AS
path, the sequence of ASes that advertised the route; the
next-hop, the IP address that the router should forward packets to in
order to use the route; the multi-exit discriminator (MED), which
a neighboring AS can use to specify that one route should be more (or
less) preferred than routes advertised at other routers in that AS; and
the community value, which is a way of labeling a route.
BGP's configuration affects which routes are
originated and propagated, how routes are modified as they propagate,
which route each router selects from multiple options, and
how routes propagate between routers.
A single AS can have
anywhere from two or three routers to many hundreds of routers. A
single router's configuration can range from a few hundred lines to more
than 10,000 lines. In practice, a large backbone network may have more
than a thousand different policies configured across hundreds of
Figure 1: Number of threads discussing routing
faults on the NANOG mailing list.
To understand the extent to which this complex configuration is
responsible for the types of failures that occur in practice, we studied
the archives of the North American Network Operators Group (NANOG)
mailing list, where network operators report operational problems,
discuss operational issues, etc. . Because the list
has received about 75,000 emails over the course of ten years, we first
clustered the emails by thread and pruned threads based on a list of
about fifteen keywords (e.g., "BGP", "issue", "loop", "problem",
"outage"). We then reviewed these threads and classified each of them
into one or more of the categories shown in
This informal study shows some clear trends. First, many routing
problems are caused by configuration faults. Second, the same
types of problems continually appear. Third, BGP
configuration problems continually perplex even experienced network
operators. A tool that can detect configuration faults will clearly
benefit network operators.
3 rcc Design
rcc analyzes both single-router and network-wide properties of BGP
configuration and outputs a list of configuration faults. rcc checks
that the BGP configuration satisfies a set of constraints, which are
based on a correctness specification. Figure 2
illustrates rcc's high-level architecture.
We envision that rcc has three classes of users:
those that wish to run rcc with no modifications,
those that wish to add new constraints concerning the existing
those that wish to augment the high-level specification.
rcc's modular design allows users to specify
other constraints without changing the system internals.
Some users may wish to extend the high-level specification to include other
aspects of correctness (e.g., safety ) and map those
high-level specifications to constraints on the configuration.
Section 3.1 describes how we factor distributed
configuration to reason about its behavior and
how rcc generates a normalized representation of the
configuration that facilitates constraint checking.
To detect configuration faults, we must specify, at
a high level, correct behavior for an Internet routing protocol; we
outline this specification in Section 3.2.
Using this high-level specification and our method for reasoning
about configuration as a guide, we must then derive the
actual correctness constraints that rcc can check against the
normalized configuration. Section 3.3 explains this process.
Figure 2: Overview of rcc.
3.1 Factoring Routing Configuration
Figure 3: Factoring BGP configuration.
In this section, we describe a systematic approach to analyze
factor a network's configuration into the following three
1. Dissemination. A router's configuration determines which
other routers that router will exchange BGP routes with. A
router has two types of BGP sessions: those to routers in its own AS
(internal BGP, or "iBGP") and those to routers in other ASes
(external BGP, or "eBGP"). A small AS with only two or three
routers may have only 10 or 20 BGP sessions, but large backbone
networks typically have more than 10,000 BGP sessions, more than
half of which are iBGP sessions. Dissemination primarily concerns
flexibility in iBGP configuration.
The session-level BGP topology determines how BGP routes propagate
through the network. In small networks, iBGP is configured as a
"full mesh" (every router connects to every other router). To
improve scalability, larger networks typically use route
reflectors. A route reflector selects a single best
route and announces that route to all of its "clients". Route
reflectors can easily be misconfigured (we discuss iBGP misconfiguration
in more detail in Section 4). Incorrect
configuration can create persistent forwarding loops and
2. Filtering. A router's configuration can prevent a certain
route from being accepted on inbound or readvertised on outbound.
Configuring filtering is complicated because global behavior depends
on the configuration of individual routers. A router may "tag" an
incoming route to control whether some other router in the AS
filters the route.
3. Ranking. Any given router may learn more than one route to a
destination, but must select a single best route. Configuration
allows a network operator to specify which route is the most preferred
route to the destination among several candidates.
Configuration also manipulates route attributes
for one of the following reasons: (1) controlling how
a router ranks candidate routes, (2) controlling the "next hop" IP
address for the advertised route, and (3) labeling a route to
control whether another router filters it.
rcc implements the normalized representation as a set of relational
database tables. This approach allows
constraints to be expressed independently of router configuration
languages. As configuration languages evolve and new ones emerge, only
the parser must be modified. It also
facilitates testing network-wide properties, since all of
the information related to the network's BGP configuration can be
summarized in a handful of tables. A relational structure is natural
because many sessions share common attributes (e.g., all sessions to the
same neighboring AS often have the same policies), and many policies
have common clauses (e.g., all eBGP sessions may have a filter that is
defined in exactly the same way). Table 1 summarizes these
tables; Section 6.1 details how rcc populates them.
Table 1: Normalized configuration representation.
|Table ||Description |
|global options ||router, various global options (e.g., router ID)|
|sessions ||router, neighbor IP address, eBGP/iBGP,
pointers to policy, options (e.g.RR client)|
|prefixes ||router, prefix originated by this router|
|import/export filters ||normalized representation of filter:
IP range, mask range, permit or deny|
|import/export policies ||normalized representation of
|loopback address(es) ||router, loopback IP address(es)|
|interfaces ||router, interface IP address(es)|
|static routes ||static routes for prefixes|
|undefined references ||summary of policies and filters that a
BGP configuration referenced but did not define|
|bogon prefixes ||prefixes that should always be filtered on eBGP
3.2 Defining a Correctness Specification
rcc's correctness specification uses our previous work on the routing
logic  as a starting point. rcc checks two
aspects of correctness: path visibility and route
validity. In the context of BGP, a route is a BGP
advertises reachability to some destination via an associated path. A
path is a sequence of IP hops (i.e., routers) between two IP
addresses. We say that a path is usable if
it: (1) reaches the destination, and (2) conforms to the
routing policies of ASes on the path.
Path visibility implies that every router learns at least one
route for each destination it can reach via a usable path.
Path visibility may be violated by problems with either dissemination or
filtering. An example of a path visibility violation is an
iBGP configuration that prevents the dissemination of BGP routes
to external destinations, even though usable paths to those
Route validity implies that every route learned by a router
describes a usable path, and that this
path corresponds to the actual path taken by packets sent
to the destination.
Problems with dissemination or filtering can cause route
validity violations. A forwarding loop is an example of a route
validity violation: a router learns a route for a destination, but
traffic sent on the corresponding path never reaches that destination.
rcc finds path visibility and route validity violations in BGP
configuration only. To make general
statements about path visibility and route validity, rcc assumes
that the internal routing protocol (i.e., interior gateway protocol, or
"IGP") used to establish routes between
any two routers within a
AS is operating correctly. BGP requires
the IGP to operate correctly because iBGP sessions may
traverse multiple IGP hops and because the "next hop" for
iBGP-learned routes is typically several IGP hops away.
The correctness specification that we have presented addresses
static properties of BGP, not dynamic behavior
(i.e., its response to changing inputs, convergence time, etc.). BGP,
like any distributed protocol, may experience periods of transient
incorrectness in response to changing inputs. rcc detects faults that
cause persistent failures. Previous work has
studied sufficient conditions on the relationships between iBGP and IGP
configuration that must be satisfied to guarantee that iBGP
converges ; these constraints require parsing the IGP
configuration, which rcc does not yet check.
The correctness specifications and constraints in this paper assume that,
given stable inputs, the routing protocol eventually converges to
some steady state behavior.
Currently, rcc only detects faults in the BGP
configuration of a single AS (a network operator typically does
to the BGP configuration from other ASes). Because an AS's BGP
configuration explicitly controls both dissemination and filtering, many
configuration faults, including partitions, route
leaks, etc., are evident from the BGP configuration of a single AS.
3.3 Deriving Constraints and Detecting Faults
Table 2: BGP configuration problems that rcc detects and their
potentially active faults.
Deriving constraints on the configuration itself that guarantee that the
is satisfied is challenging. We reason about how the aspects of
configuration from Section 3.1 affect each correctness
property and derive appropriate constraints for each of these aspects.
Specifically, Table 2 summarizes the correctness
rcc checks, which follow from determining which aspects of
configuration (from Section 3.1) affect each aspect of the
correctness specification (from Section 3.2).
These constraints are an attempt to map the path visibility and route
validity specifications to constraints on BGP configuration that can be
checked against the actual configuration.
Ideally, operators would run rcc to detect configuration faults
before they are deployed. Some of rcc's constraints detect faults
that would most likely become active immediately upon deployment. For
example, a router that is advertising
routes with an incorrect next-hop attribute will immediately prevent
other routers that
use those routes from forwarding packets to those
destinations. In this case, rcc can help the operator diagnose
configuration faults and prevent them from introducing failures on the
Many of the constraints in Table 2 concern faults that
could remain undetected even after the configuration has been deployed
because they remain masked until some sequence of messages triggers
them. In these cases, rcc can help operators find faults that could
result in a serious failure. Section 4 describes one
such path visibility fault involving dissemination in iBGP in further
In other cases, checking constraints implies some knowledge of high-level
policy (recall that a usable path conforms to some high-level
policy). In the absence of a high-level policy specification language,
rcc must make inferences about a network operator's intentions.
Section 5 describes several route validity faults where
rcc must make such inferences.
|Problem ||Possible Active Fault|
|Path Visibility |
|Dissemination Problems |
|Signaling partition: ||Router may learn a suboptimal route |
| - of route reflectors ||or none at all. |
| - within a RR "cluster" |
| - in a "full mesh" |
|Routers with duplicate: ||Routers may incorrectly drop routes. |
| - loopback address |
| - cluster ID |
|iBGP configured on one end ||Routers won't exchange
|iBGP not to loopback ||iBGP session fails
when one interface fails. |
|Route Validity |
|Filtering Problems |
|transit between peers |
traffic "for free".|
|inconsistent export to peer |
|inconsistent import |
"cold potato" routing.|
eBGP session: |
| - w/no filters |
| - w/undef. filter |
| - w/undef. policy |
| - w/missing prefix |
| - w/undef. AS path |
| - w/undef. community |
| - w/undef. filter |
- leaked internal routes
- re-advertising bogus routes
- accepting bogus routes from neighbors
- unintentional transit between peers
Dissemination Problems |
|prepending with bogus AS |
AS path is no longer valid.|
|originating unroutable dest. |
|incorrect next-hop ||Other routers may be unable to reach
the routes for a next-hop that is not in the IGP. |
|Decision Process Problems |
nondeterministic MED |
Route selection depends on message order.|
3.4 Completeness and Soundness
Figure 4: Relationships between faults and failures.
rcc's constraints are neither complete nor sound; that is, they may
not find all problematic configurations, and they may complain about
harmless deviations from best common practice. However, practical
static analysis techniques for program analysis are typically neither
complete nor sound .
Figure 4 shows the relationships between classes
of configuration faults and the class of faults that rcc detects.
Latent faults are faults that are not actively causing any problems but
nonetheless violate the correctness constraints. A subset of latent
faults are potentially active faults, for which there is at least
one input sequence that is certain to trigger the fault. For example,
an import policy that references an undefined filter on a BGP session to
a neighboring AS is a potentially active fault, which will be triggered
when that neighboring AS advertises a route that ought to have been
filtered. When deployed, a potentially active fault will become
active if the corresponding input sequence occurs. An active fault
constitutes a routing failure for that AS.
Some active faults may ultimately appear as end-to-end failures.
For example, if an AS advertises an invalid route (e.g., a route for a
prefix that it does not own) to a neighboring AS whose import policy
references an undefined filter, then some end hosts may not be able to
reach destinations within that prefix. Note that a
potentially active fault may not always result in an end-to-end failure
if no path between the sources and destinations traverses the routers in
the faulty AS.
rcc detects a subset of latent (and hence,
potentially active) faults. In addition, rcc
may also report some false positives: faults that violate the
constraints but are benign (i.e., the violations
would never cause a failure).
Ideally, rcc would detect fewer benign faults
by testing the BGP configuration against an abstract specification.
producing such a specification requires additional work from
operators, and operators may well write incorrect specifications.
One of rcc's advantages is that it provides useful information about
configuration faults without requiring any additional work on the part
Our previous work  presented three
properties in addition to path visibility and route validity:
information flow control (this
property checks if routes "leak" in violation of policy), determinism
(whether a router's preference for routes depends on the presence or
absence of other routes), and safety (whether the protocol
converges) . This work treats information flow
control as a subset of validity. rcc does not check for faults related
to determinism and safety. Determinism cannot be checked with static
analysis alone. Safety is a property that typically requires access to
configurations from multiple ASes; in recent work, we have explored how
to guarantee safety with access to configurations of only a single
4 Path Visibility Faults
Recall that path visibility specifies that every router that has a
usable path to a destination learns at least one valid route to that
destination. It is an important property because it ensures that, if the
network remains connected at lower layers, the routing protocol does not
create any network partitions. Table 2 shows
many conditions that rcc checks related to path visibility; in this
section, we focus on iBGP configuration faults that can violate
path visibility and explain how rcc detects these faults.
Ensuring path visibility in a "full mesh" iBGP topology is reasonably
straightforward; rcc checks that every router in the AS has an
iBGP session with every other router. If this condition is satisfied,
every router in the AS will learn all eBGP-learned routes.
Because a "full mesh" iBGP topology scales poorly, operators often
employ route reflection . A subset of the
routers are configured as route reflectors, with the configuration
specifying a set of other routers as route reflector clients.
Each route reflector readvertises its best route according to the
following rules: (1) if the best route was learned from an iBGP peer,
the route is readvertised to all of its route reflector clients; (2) if
learned from a client or via an eBGP session, the route is readvertised
on all iBGP sessions.
A router does
not readvertise iBGP-learned routes over regular iBGP sessions.
If a route reflector client has
multiple route reflectors, those reflectors must share all of their
clients and belong to a single "cluster".
A route reflector may itself be a client of another route reflector.
Any router may also have iBGP sessions with other routers.
We use the set of
reflector-client relationships between routers in an AS to define a
graph G, where each router is a node and each
session is either a directed or undirected edge: a client-reflector
session is a directed edge from
client to reflector, and other iBGP sessions are undirected edges. An
edge exists if and only if (1) the configuration of each router endpoint
specifies the loopback address of the other endpoint1 and (2) both routers agree
on session options (e.g., MD5 authentication parameters). G
should also not have partitions at lower layers. We say that G is
acyclic if G has no sequence of directed and undirected edges
that form a cycle. To ensure the existence of a stable path assignment,
G should be acyclic.
In this iBGP configuration, route
r2 will be distributed to all the routers in the AS, but
r1 will not. Y and Z will not learn of r1, leading to a
network partition that won't be resolved unless another route to
the destination appears from elsewhere in the AS.
Even a connected directed acyclic graph of iBGP sessions can violate
path visibility. For example, in Figure 5,
routers Y and Z do not learn route r1 to destination d (learned
via eBGP by router W), because X will not readvertise routes learned
from its iBGP session with W to other iBGP sessions. We call this
path visibility fault an iBGP signaling partition; a
path exists, but neither Y nor Z has a route for it. Note that
simply adding a regular iBGP session between routers W and Y would
solve the problem.
In addition to causing network partitions, iBGP signaling partitions may
result in suboptimal routing.
For example, in Figure 5, even if Y or Z
learned a route to d via eBGP, that route might be worse than
the route learned at W. In this case, Y and Z would ultimately
select a suboptimal route to the destination, an event that an operator
would likely fail to notice.
rcc detects iBGP signaling partitions.
It determines if there is any
combination of eBGP-learned routes such that at least one router in the
AS will not learn at least one route to the destination.
The following result forms the basis for a simple and efficient check.
Suppose that the graph defined by an AS's iBGP relationships, G, is acyclic.
Then, G does not have a signaling partition if, and only if, the BGP
routers that are not route reflector clients form a full mesh.
Proof. Call the set of routers that are not reflector clients the
"top layer" of G. If the top layer is not a full mesh,
then there are two routers X and Y with no iBGP session between
them, such that no route learned using eBGP at X will ever be
disseminated to Y, since no router readvertises an
Conversely, if the top layer is a full mesh, observe that if a
has a route to the destination, then all its clients
have a route as well. Thus, if every router in the
top layer has a route, all routers in the AS will have a route. If any
router in the top layer learns a route through eBGP, then all the
top layer routers will hear of the route (because the top layer is a
full mesh). Alternatively, if no router at the top layer hears an
eBGP-learned route, but some other router in the AS does, then that
route propagates up a chain of route reflectors (each client sends it to
its reflector, and the reflector sends it on all its iBGP sessions) to
the top layer, from there to all the other top layer routers, and from
there to the other routers in the AS. &loz
rcc checks this condition by constructing the iBGP signaling
graph G from the sessions table (Table 1). It assumes
that the IGP graph is connected, then determines whether G is
connected and acyclic and whether the routers at the top layer of G form
a full mesh.
5 Route Validity Faults
BGP should satisfy route validity.
Its configuration affects which routes each router accepts, selects, and
Table 2 summarizes the route validity faults that rcc
checks. In this
section, we focus on rcc's approach to detecting potential
The biggest challenge for checking policy-related problems is that rcc
a specification of the intended policy. Requiring operators to provide
a high-level policy specification would require designing a
specification language and convincing operators to use it, and it
provides no guarantees that the results would be more accurate, since
errors may be introduced into the specification itself. Instead, rcc
forms beliefs about a network operator's intended policy in two
ways: (1) assuming that intended policies conform to best common
practice and (2) analyzing the configuration for common patterns and
looking for deviations from those patterns. rcc then finds cases where
the configuration appears to violate these beliefs. It is noteworthy
that, even in the absence of a policy specification, this technique
detects many meaningful configuration faults and generates few false
5.1 Violations of Best Common Practice
Typically, a route that an AS learns from one of its "peers" should not
be readvertised to another peer. Checking this condition requires
how a route propagates through a network. Figure 6
illustrates how rcc performs this check.
Suppose that rcc is analyzing the configuration from AS X and needs
to determine that no routes learned from Worldcom are
exported to Sprint. First, rcc determines all routes that X
exports to Sprint, typically a set of routes that
satisfy certain constraints on their attributes. For example, router
A may export to Sprint only routes that are "tagged" with the label
"1000". (ASes often designate such labels to signify how a route
was learned.) rcc then checks the import
policies for all sessions to Worldcom, ensuring that no import policy will
set route attributes on any incoming route that would place it in the
set of routes that would be exported to Sprint.
Additionally, an AS should advertise routes with equally good attributes
peer at every peering point. An AS should not advertise routes with
inconsistent attributes, since doing so may prevent its peer from
implementing "hot potato" routing,2 which typically violates peering agreements.
Recent work has observed that this type of inconsistent route
advertisement sometimes occurs in practice .
This violation can arise for two reasons.
First, an AS may apply different export policies
at different routers to the same peer.
Checking for consistent export involves comparing
export policies on each router that has an eBGP session with a
Static analysis is useful
because it can efficiently compare policies on
many different routers.
In practice, this comparison is not straightforward
because differences in policy definitions are difficult to detect by
direct inspection of the distributed router configurations. rcc makes
export policies easy by
normalizing all of the export policies for an AS, as described in
Second, an iBGP signaling partition can create inconsistent export
routes with equally good attributes may not propagate to all peering
routes. For example, consider Figure 5 again.
If routers W and Z both learn routes to some destination d, then
route W may learn a "better" route to d, but routers Y and Z
will continue to select the less attractive route. If routers X
and Y re-advertise their routes to a peer, then the routes
advertised by X and Y will not be equally good. Thus, rcc also checks
whether routers that advertise routes to the same peer are in the same
iBGP signaling partition (as described in Section 4,
rcc checks for all iBGP signaling partitions, but ones that
cause inconsistent advertisement are particularly serious).
5.2 Configuration Anomalies
Figure 6: How rcc computes route propagation.
When the configurations for sessions at different routers to a
neighboring AS are the same
except at one or two routers, the deviations are likely to be mistakes.
relies on the belief that, if an AS exchanges routes with a
neighboring AS on many sessions and most of those sessions have
identical policies, then the sessions
with slightly different policies may be misconfigurations. Of
course, this test could result in many false positives because
there are legitimate reasons for having slightly different import
policies on sessions to the same neighboring AS (e.g.,
outbound traffic engineering), but it does provide a useful sanity check.
Figure 7: Overview of rcc implementation.
rcc is implemented in
Perl and has been downloaded
by over 65 network operators.
The parser is roughly
60% of the code.
Much of the parser's logic is dedicated to policy
Figure 7 shows an overview of rcc, which
takes as input the set of configuration files collected from
routers in a single AS
using a tool such as "rancid" .
converts the vendor-specific BGP configuration to a vendor-independent
representation. It then checks this normalized format for faults
based on a set of correctness constraints.
rcc's functionality is
decomposed into three distinct modules: (1) a preprocessor, which
converts configuration into a more parsable version; (2) a parser, which
generates the normalized representation; and (3) a constraint checker,
which checks the constraints.
Figure 8: BGP configuration in normalized format.
6.1 Preprocessing and Parsing
The preprocessor adds scoping identifiers to configuration
languages that do not have explicit scoping (e.g., Cisco IOS) and expands
macros (e.g., Cisco's "peer group", "policy list", and "template"
options). After the preprocessor performs some simple checks to
determine whether the configuration is a Cisco-like configuration
or a Juniper configuration, it launches the appropriate parser. Many
configurations (e.g., Avici, Procket, Zebra, Quarry) resemble Cisco
configuration; the preprocessor translates these configurations so that
they more closely resemble Cisco syntax.
The parser generates the normalized representation from the
The parser processes each router's configuration independently. It
makes a single pass over each router's configuration, looking for keywords
that help determine where in the configuration it is operating (e.g.,
"route-map" in a Cisco configuration indicates that the parser
is entering a policy declaration). The parser builds a table of
normalized policies by
dereferencing all filters and other references in the policy; if the
reference is defined after it is referenced in the same file, the
parser performs lazy evaluation. When it reaches the end of a file, the
parser flags any policies references in the configuration that it was
unable to resolve. The parser proceeds file-by-file (taking care to
consider that definitions are scoped by each file), keeping track of
normalized policies and whether they have already appeared in other
Figure 8 shows rcc's normalized representation for a
fragment of Cisco IOS. In rcc, this normalized representation is
implemented as a set of mySQL database tables corresponding to the
schema shown in Table 1. This Cisco configuration specifies
a BGP session to a neighboring router with IP address 10.1.2.3 in
AS 3. This statement is represented by a row in the sessions
table. The second line of configuration specifies that the import
policy (i.e., "route map") for this session is defined as "
IMPORT_CUST" elsewhere in the file; the normalized representation
represents the import policy specification as a pointer into a separate
table that contains the import policies themselves. A single policy,
such as IMPORT_CUST is represented as multiple rows in the
policies table. Each row represents a single clause of the policy. In
this example, IMPORT_CUST has two clauses: the first rejects all
routes whose AS path matches the regular expression number "99"
(specified as "^65000" elsewhere in the configuration), and
the second clause accepts all routes that match AS path number "88"
and community number "10" and sets the "local preference"
attribute on the route to a value of 80. Each of these clauses is
represented as a row in the policies table; specifications for regular
expressions for AS paths and communities are also stored in separate
tables, as shown in Figure 8.
rcc's normalized representation does not store
the names of the policies themselves (e.g., "IMPORT_CUST", AS
regular expression number "88", etc.). Rather, the normalized format
only stores a description of what the route policy does (e.g., "set the
local preference value to 80 if the AS path matches regular expression
^3"). Two policies may be written using entirely different
names, regular expression numbers, or even in different languages, but
if the policies perform the same operations, rcc will recognize that
they are in fact the same policy.
6.2 Constraint Checking
We implemented each correctness condition in Table 2
by executing SQL queries against the normalized format and analyzing
the results of these queries in Perl.
rcc checks many constraints by executing simple queries against the
normalized representation. Checking constraints against the normalized
representation is simpler than analyzing distributed router
configurations. Consider the test in Table 2 called
configured on one end"; this constraint requires that, if a router's
configuration specifies an iBGP session to some IP address, then
(1) that IP address should be the loopback address of some other router
in the AS, and (2) that other router should be configured with an iBGP
session back to the first router's loopback address. rcc tests this
constraint as a single, simple "select" statement that "joins" the
loopbacks and sessions tables. Other tests, such as
checking properties of the iBGP signaling graph, require reconstructing
the iBGP signaling graph using the sessions table.
As another example, to check that no
routing policy in the AS prepends any AS number other than its own, rcc
executes a "select"
query on a join of the sessions and policies tables, which
returns the ASes that each policy prepends (if any) and the routers
where each policy is used. rcc then checks the global table to
ensure that that for each router, the AS number configured on the router
matches the ASes that any policy on that router prepends.
7 Evaluating Operational Networks with rcc
Our goal is to help operators move away from today's mode of
stimulus-response reasoning by allowing them to check the correctness of
their configurations before deploying them on a live network.
rcc has helped network operators find faults in deployed
configurations; we present these findings in this section. Because we
to test configurations that were already deployed in live
networks, we did not expect rcc to find many of the types of transient
misconfigurations that Mahajan et al. found 
(i.e., those that quickly become apparent to operators when the
configuration is deployed). If rcc were applied to BGP configurations
before deployment, we expect that it could prevent more than 75%
of the "origin misconfiguration" incidents and more than 90% of the
"export misconfiguration" incidents described in that
7.1 Analyzing Real-World Configurations
We used rcc to evaluate the configurations from 17 real-world networks,
including BGP configurations from every router in 12 ASes. We made rcc
available to operators, hoping that they would run it on their
configurations and report their results.
Network operators are reluctant
to share router configuration because it often encodes
Also, many ISPs do not like researchers reporting on mistakes in
their networks. (Previous efforts have enjoyed only limited success
in gaining access to real-world
We learned that providing operators with a useful tool or service
increases the likelihood of cooperation.
with rcc, many operators opted to provide us with configurations,
while others ran rcc on their configurations and sent us the
rcc detected over
1,000 configuration faults. The size of these networks ranged from two
routers to more than 500 routers.
Many operators insisted that the details of their configurations be kept
private, so we cannot report separate statistics for each network that
we tested. Every network we tested had BGP configuration
faults. Operators were
usually unaware of the faults in their networks.
Table 3: BGP configuration faults in 17 ASes.
|Problem ||Latent ||Benign |
|Path Visibility |
|Dissemination Problems |
|Signaling partition: |
| - of route reflectors ||4 ||1 |
| - within a RR "cluster" ||2 ||0 |
| - in a "full mesh" ||2 ||0 |
|Routers with duplicate: |
| - loopback address ||13 ||120|
|iBGP configured on one end ||420 ||0 |
|or not to loopback |
|Route Validity |
|Filtering Problems |
|transit between peers ||3 ||3 |
|inconsistent export to peer ||231 ||2 |
|inconsistent import ||105 ||12 |
|eBGP session: |
| - w/no filters ||21 ||- |
| - w/undef. filter ||27 ||- |
| - w/undef. policy ||2 ||- |
| - w/missing prefix ||196 ||- |
| - w/undef. AS path ||31 ||- |
| - w/undef. community ||12 ||- |
| - w/undef. filter ||18 ||- |
Dissemination Problems |
|prepending with bogus AS ||0 ||1 |
|originating unroutable dest. ||22 ||2 |
|incorrect next-hop ||0 ||2 |
|Decision Process Problems |
|nondeterministic MED ||43 ||0 |
|age-based tiebreaking ||259 ||0 |
7.2 Fault Classification and Summary
Table 3 summarizes the faults that rcc detected.
rcc discovered potentially serious configuration faults as
well as benign ones. The fact that rcc discovers benign faults
underscores the difficulty in specifying correct behavior.
have various dimensions and levels of seriousness. For example, one
iBGP partition indicates that rcc found
one case where a network was partitioned, but one instance of
unintentional transit means that rcc found two sessions that,
together, caused the AS
to carry traffic in violation of high-level policy.
The absolute number
of faults is less important than noting that many of the faults occurred
at least once.
Figure 9 shows that many faults appeared in many
We did not observe any significant correlation between
network complexity and prevalence of faults, but configurations from
more ASes are needed to draw any strong conclusions. The rest of this
section describes the extent of the configuration faults that we found
7.3 Path Visibility Faults
The path visibility faults that rcc detected involve iBGP signaling and
fall into three categories:
problems with "full mesh" and route reflector configuration, problems
configuring route reflector clusters, and incomplete iBGP session
configuration. Detecting these faults required access to
the BGP configuration for every router in the AS.
iBGP signaling partitions.
iBGP signaling partitions appeared in one of two ways: (1) the top layer
of iBGP routers was not a full mesh; or (2) a route reflector cluster had
two or more route reflectors, but at least one client in the cluster did
not have an iBGP session with every route reflector in the cluster.
Together, these accounted for 9 iBGP signaling partitions in 5
distinct ASes, one of which was benign. While most
partitions involved route reflection, we were surprised to find that
even small networks had iBGP signaling partitions. In one network of
only three routers, the operator had failed to configure a full mesh; he
told us that he had "inadvertently removed an iBGP session".
found two cases where routers in a cluster with multiple route
reflectors did not have iBGP sessions to all route reflectors in that
rcc discovered one benign iBGP signaling partition. The network had a
group of routers that did not exchange routes with the rest of the
iBGP-speaking routers, but the routers that were partitioned introduced
of the routes that they learned from neighboring ASes into the IGP,
rather than readvertising them via iBGP. The operator of this network
told us that these routers were for voice-over-IP traffic; presumably,
these routers injected all routes for this application into the IGP to
achieve fast convergence after a failure or routing change.
In cases such as these, BGP configuration cannot be checked in isolation
from other routing protocols.
Figure 9: Number of ASes in which each type of fault occurred
at least once.
Route reflector cluster problems. In an iBGP
configuration with route reflection, multiple route reflectors may serve
the same set of clients. This group of route reflectors and its clients
is called a "cluster"; each cluster should have a unique ID, and all
routers in the cluster should be assigned the same cluster ID. If a
router's BGP configuration does not specify a cluster ID, then typically
a router's loopback address is used as the cluster ID. If two routers
have the same loopback address, then one router may discard a route
learned from the other, thinking that the route is one that it had
announced itself. rcc found 13 instances of routers in distinct clusters
with duplicate loopback addresses and no assigned cluster ID.
Different physical routers in the same AS may legitimately have
identical loopback addresses. For example, routers in distinct IP-layer
virtual private networks may route the same IPv4 address space.
Incomplete iBGP sessions. rcc discovered 420 incomplete iBGP
a configuration statement on one router indicated the presence of an
iBGP session to another router, but the other router did not have an
iBGP session in the reverse direction). Many of these faults are likely
benign. The most likely explanation for the large number of
these is that network operators may disable sessions by removing the
configuration from one end of the session without ever "cleaning up"
the other end of the session.
7.4 Route Validity Faults
In this section, we discuss route validity faults. We first discuss
filtering-related faults; we classify faults as latent unless
operator explicitly told us that the fault was benign.
We also describe faults concerning undefined references
to policies and filters. Some of these faults, while simple to check,
could have serious consequences (e.g., leaked routes), if rcc had not
caught them and they had been activated.
Finally, we present
some interesting faults related to route dissemination, all of which
7.4.1 Filtering Problems
Decomposing policies across configurations on different routers can
cause faults, even for simple policies such as controlling route export
between peers. rcc discovered the following problems:
Transit between peers. rcc discovered three instances where
routes learned from one peer or provider could be readvertised to
another; typically, these faults occurred because an export policy for a
session was intended to filter routes that had a certain community
value, but the export policy instead referenced an undefined community.
Obsolete contractual arrangements can remain in configuration long after
those arrangements expire. rcc discovered one AS that appeared to
readvertise certain prefixes from one peer to another. Upon further
investigation, we learned that the AS was actually a previous owner of
one of the peers. When we notified the operator that his AS was
providing transit between these two peers, he told us, "Historically,
we had a relationship between them. I don't know what the status of that
relationship is these days. Perhaps it is still active-at least in
Inconsistent export to peer. We found 231 cases where an
AS advertised routes that were not "equally good" at every peering
point. It is hard to say whether these inconsistencies are benign
without knowing the operator's intent, but roughly twenty of these
inconsistencies were certainly accidental. For example, one
inconsistency existed because of an undefined AS path regular expression
referenced in the export policy; these types of inconsistencies have
also been observed in previous measurement studies .
Inconsistent import policies. A recent measurement study observed
that ASes often implement policies that result in late exit (or "cold
potato") routing, where a router does not select the BGP route that provides
the closest exit point from its own
network .4 rcc
found 117 instances where an AS's import policies explicitly
implemented cold potato routing, which supports this previous
observation. In one network, rcc detected a different import policy
for every session to each neighboring AS. In this case, the import
policy was labeling routes according to the router at which the route
Inconsistent import and export policies were not always
immediately apparent to us even after rcc detected them: the two
sessions applied policies with the same name, and both policies were
defined with verbatim configuration fragments. The difference
resulted from the fact that the difference in policies was three levels
of indirection deep. For example, one inconsistency occurred because of
a difference in the definition for an AS path regular expression that
the export policy referenced (which, in turn, was referenced by the
rcc also detected filtering problems on
Undefined references in policy definitions. Several large networks
had router configurations that
referenced undefined variables and BGP sessions that referenced
These faults can sometimes result in
unintentional transit or inconsistent export to peers or even potential
invalid route advertisements.
In one network, rcc found four routers with undefined filters that
would have allowed a large ISP to accept and readvertise any route to
the rest of the Internet (such a failure actually occurred in
1997 ); this potentially active fault could have been
a customer had (unintentionally or intentionally) announced invalid routes,
since ASes typically do not filter routes coming from large ISPs. This
misconfiguration occurred even though the router
configurations were being written with scripts; an operator had
apparently made a mistake specifying inputs to the scripts.
detect such faults using rcc.
Non-existent or inadequate filtering.
Filtering can go wrong in several ways: (1) no filters are used
whatsoever, (2) a filter is specified but not defined, or
(3) filters are defined but are missing prefixes or otherwise
out-of-date (i.e., they are not current
with respect to the list of private and unallocated IP address
Every network that rcc analyzed had faults in filter configuration.
Some of these faults would have caused an AS to readvertise any
route learned from a neighboring AS. In one case, policy
misconfiguration caused an AS to transit traffic between two of its
peers. Table 3 and Figure 9 show that
these faults were extremely common: rcc found 21 eBGP sessions in 5
distinct ASes with no filters whatsoever and 27 eBGP sessions in 2 ASes
that referenced undefined filters. Every AS had partially incorrect
filter configuration, and most of the smaller ASes we analyzed either
had minimal or no filtering. Only a handful of the ASes we analyzed
appeared to maintain rigorous, up-to-date filters for private and
unallocated IP address space. These findings agree with those of our
recent measurement study, which also suggests that many ASes do not
perform adequate filtering .
The reason for inadequate
filtering seems to be the lack of a process
for installing and updating filters.
One operator told us
that he would be willing to apply more
rigorous filters if he knew a good way of doing so. Another operator runs
sanity checks on filters and was surprised to find that many
sessions were referring to undefined filters.
Even a well-defined process can go horribly wrong: one operator intended
to use a
feed of unallocated
prefixes to automatically install filters, but instead ended up
Because there is a set of prefixes that every AS should always filter,
some prefixes should be filtered by default.
7.4.2 Dissemination Problems
We describe configuration faults involving dissemination. rcc found
only benign faults in this case.
Unorthodox AS path prepending practices. An AS will often prepend
its own AS number to the AS path on certain outbound advertisements to
affect inbound traffic. However, we found one AS that prepended a
neighbor's AS on inbound advertisements in an apparent attempt to
influence outbound traffic.5
iBGP sessions with "next-hop self". We found two cases of iBGP
sessions that violated common rules for setting the next-hop
attribute, both of which were benign. First, rcc detected
route reflectors that appeared to be setting the "next hop"
attribute. Although this practice is not likely to create active faults,
it seemed unusual, since the AS's exit
routers typically set the next hop attribute, and route reflectors
typically do not modify route attributes.
Upon further investigation, we learned that some router vendors do not
allow a route reflector to reset the next-hop attribute. Even though
the configuration specified that the session would reset the next-hop
attribute, the configuration statement had no effect because the
software was designed to ignore it. The operator who wrote the
configuration specified that the next-hop attribute be reset
on these sessions to make the configuration appear more uniform.
Second, routers sometimes reset the
next-hop on iBGP sessions to themselves on sessions to a route
monitoring server to allow the
operator to distinguish which router sent each route to the monitor.
7.5 Miscellaneous Tests
Non-deterministic route selection.
rcc discovered more than two hundred routers that were
configured such that the arrival order of routes affected the outcome of
the route selection process (i.e., these routers had either one or both of
the two configuration settings that cause nondeterminism). Although
there are occasionally reasonably good reasons for introducing ordering
dependencies (e.g., preferring the "most stable" route; that is, the
one that was advertised first), operators did not offer good reasons for
why these options were disabled. In response to our pointing out this
fault, one operator told us,"That's a good point, but my network isn't
big enough that I've had to worry about that yet."
Non-deterministic features should be disabled by default.
7.6 Higher-level Lessons
Our evaluation of real-world BGP configuration from operational
networks suggests five higher-level lessons about the nature of
today's configuration process. First, operational networks-even
large, well-known, and well-managed ones-have faults. Even the most
competent of operators find it difficult to manage BGP configuration.
Moreover, iBGP is misconfigured often; in fact, in the absence of a
guideline such as Theorem 4.1, it is hard for a network
operator to know what properties the iBGP signaling graph should have.
Second, the majority of the configuration faults that rcc detected
resulted from the fact that an AS's configuration is distributed across
its routers. A routing architecture or configuration management system
that enabled an operator to configure the network from a centralized
location with a high-level language would likely prevent many serious
Third, although operators use tools that automate some aspects of
configuration, these tools are not a panacea. In fact, we found cases
incorrect use of these tools caused configuration faults.
Fourth, maintaining network-wide policy consistency appears to be hard;
invariably, in most ASes there are routers whose configuration appears to
contradict the AS's desired policy.
Finally, we found that route filters are poorly maintained. Routes
that should never be seen on the global Internet (e.g., routes for
private addresses) are rarely filtered, and the filters that are used
are often misconfigured and outdated.
8 Related Work
We discuss related work in three areas: router configuration, model checking,
and BGP convergence.
Mahajan et al. studied short-lived BGP misconfiguration by
analyzing transient, globally visible BGP announcements from an edge
network . They defined a "misconfiguration" as a
transient BGP announcement that was followed by a withdrawal within
a small amount of time (suggesting that the operator observed and
fixed the problem). They found that many misconfigurations
are caused by faulty route origination and incorrect filtering.
rcc can help operators find these faults; it can also
detect faults that are difficult to quickly locate and correct. rcc also
helps operators detect the types of misconfigurations found by Mahajan
et al.  before deployment.
Some commercial tools analyze network configuration and highlight
rudimentary errors . Previous work has
proposed tools that analyze intradomain routing
configuration  and automate enterprise network
configuration . These tools detect router and
session-level syntax errors only (e.g., undefined filters), a subset of
the faults that rcc detects. rcc is the first tool to check
network-wide properties using a vendor-independent configuration
representation and the first tool that applies a high-level
specification of routing protocol correctness.
Many network operators use configuration management tools such as
"rancid" , which periodically archive router
configuration and provide version tracking. When a network problem
coincides with the
configuration change that caused it, these tools can help
operators revert to an older configuration.
Unfortunately, a configuration change may induce a latent or
potentially active fault, and these tools do not detect
whether the configuration has these types of faults in the first place.
Model checking has been successful in verifying the
correctness of programs  and other network
Unfortunately, model checking is not appropriate for verifying BGP
configuration because it depends heavily on exhausting the state-space
within an appropriately-defined environment . The
behavior of an AS's BGP configuration depends on routes that arrive from
other ASes, some of which, such as backup paths, cannot be known in
Analysis of BGP safety and stability. Previous work has noted
that BGP may not converge to a stable path assignment and stated
sufficient conditions to
guarantee that BGP will arrive at such an
assignment [19,21,35]. This property is
called safety. Gao and Rexford state sufficient conditions for
safety in eBGP and observe that typical policy configurations satisfy
these conditions . (Griffin et al. note that
analogous sufficient conditions apply to iBGP with route
reflection .) In both cases, the sufficient
conditions also require global knowledge of either rankings or the
AS-level topology. rcc tests constraints that must hold on the
configuration of a single AS. Our recent work derives necessary
conditions that the configuration of each AS must satisfy to guarantee
9 Discussion and Conclusion
In recent years, much work has been done to understand BGP's
behavior, and much has been written about the wide range of problems it
has. Some argue that BGP has outlived its purpose and should be
replaced; others argue that faults arise
because today's configuration languages are not
well-designed. We believe that our evaluation of faults in
today's BGP configuration provides a better understanding of the
types of errors that appear in today's BGP configuration and the
problems in today's configuration languages. Our findings should help
inform the design of wide-area routing systems in the future.
Despite the fact that BGP is almost 10 years old, operators continually make
the same mistakes as they did during BGP's infancy, and, regrettably, our
understanding of what it means for BGP to behave "correctly" is still
rudimentary. This paper takes a step towards improving this state of
affairs by making the following contributions:
In light of our findings, we suggest two ways to make interdomain
routing less prone to configuration faults. First, protocol
improvements, particularly in intra-AS route dissemination,
could avert many BGP configuration faults. The current approach to
scaling iBGP should be replaced. Route reflection serves a single,
relatively simple purpose, but it is the source of many faults, many of
which cannot be checked with static analysis of BGP configuration
alone . The protocol that disseminates BGP routes
within an AS should enforce path visibility and route validity;
the Routing Control Platform  offers
one possible solution.
Second, BGP should be configured with a centralized, higher-level
specification language. Today's BGP configuration languages enable an
operator to specify router-level mechanisms that implement
high-level policy, but the distributed, low-level nature of the
configuration languages introduces complexity, obscurity, and
opportunities for misconfiguration rather than design flexibility or
expressiveness. For example, rcc detects many faults in implementation
of some high-level policies in low-level configuration; these faults
arise because there are many ways to implement the same high-level
policy, and the low-level configuration is unintuitive. Ideally, a
network operator would never touch low-level mechanisms (e.g., the
community attribute) in the common case. Rather than configuring
routers with a low-level language, an operator should configure the
network using a language that directly reflects high-level
- We define a high-level correctness specification for BGP and
map that specification to conditions that can be tested with static
- We use this specification to design and implement
rcc, a static analysis tool that detects faults by analyzing the
BGP configuration across a single AS. With rcc, network operators
can find many faults before deploying configurations in
an operational network. rcc has been downloaded by over 65 network
- We use rcc to explore the extent of real-world BGP
misconfigurations. We have analyzed
real-world, deployed configurations from 17 different ASes and
detected more than 1,000 BGP configuration faults that had
previously gone undetected by operators.
This work would not have been possible without the support and
patience of many in the network operations community. We are grateful
to Randy Bush, Jennifer Rexford, and Guy Tal for inspiration,
suggestions, and feedback. We thank David Andersen, Tom Barron,
Rob Beverly, Jay Borkenhagen, Grover Browning, Andres Gasson, Michael
Hallgren, John Heasley, Jaroslaw Kowalczyk, Arnaud Le Taillanter,
Simon Leinen, Ratul Mahajan, Hank Nussbacher, Scott Poretsky, Jeff
Schiller, Nicolas Strina, and Matt Zekauskas for their help.
We also thank Eddie Kohler (this paper's "shepherd"), Mike Walfish,
and the anonymous NSDI reviewers for thoughtful feedback that improved
this paper. This work was supported by a Cisco URP grant and by the
NSF under Cooperative Agreement ANI-0225660. Nick Feamster is
partially supported by an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.
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1 If a
router establishes an iBGP session with a router's loopback address,
then the iBGP session will remain active as long as that router is
reachable via any IGP path between the two routers. If a router
establishes an iBGP session with an interface address of another router,
however, the iBGP session will go down if that interface fails, even if
an IGP path exists between those routers.
2If ASes 1 and 2
are peers, then the export policies of the routers in AS 1 should
export routes to AS 2 that have equal AS path length and MED values. If
not, router X could be forced to send traffic to AS 1 via router Y
("cold potato" routing)
3rcc detects the following classes of
misconfiguration described by Mahajan et al.: reliance on
upstream filtering, old configuration, community,
forgotten filter, prefix-based config, bad ACL or route map, and typo.
4Inconsistent import policy technically
concerns how configuration affects ranking, and it is more
often intentional than not. Nevertheless, this test occasionally highlights
anomalies that operators are interested in correcting, and it serves
as a useful sanity check when looking for other types of anomalies (such as
dynamically detecting inconsistent route advertisements from a
neighboring AS ).
5One network operator also mentioned
that ASes sometimes prepend the AS number of a network that they want to
prevent from seeing a certain route (i.e., by making that AS discard the
route due to loop detection), effectively "poisoning" the route. We
did not witness this poisoning in any of the configurations we analyzed.