AT&T's Facebook Traffic Mysteriously Routed Through China

Friday, March 25, 2011

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69dafe8b58066478aea48f3d0f384820

Barrett Lyon wrote an interesting article on the mysterious re-routing of AT&T customer's Facebook traffic through Chinese and then Korean telecoms.

Lyon did some analysis of the routing using a traceroute and discovered the following:

Typically AT&T customers’ data would have routed over the AT&T network directly to Facebook’s network provider but due to a routing mistake their private data went first to Chinanet then via Chinanet to SK Broadband in South Korea, then to Facebook. This means that anything you looked at via Facebook without encryption was exposed to anyone operating Chinanet, which has a very suspect Modus operandi.
This morning’s route to Facebook from AT&T:

route-server>show ip bgp 69.171.224.13 (Facebook's www IP address)
BGP routing table entry for 69.171.224.0/20, version 32605349
Paths: (18 available, best #6, table Default-IP-Routing-Table)
Not advertised to any peer
7018 4134 9318 32934 32934 32934

The AS path (routing path) translates to this:

   1. AT&T (AS7018)
   2. Chinanet (Data in China AS4134)
   3. SK Broadband (Data in South Korea AS9318)
   4. Facebook (Data back to US 32934)

Current route to Facebook via AT&T:

route-server>sho ip bgp 69.171.224.0/20
BGP routing table entry for 69.171.224.0/20, version 32743195
Paths: (18 available, best #6, table Default-IP-Routing-Table)
Not advertised to any peer
7018 3356 32934 32934, (received & used)

While Lyon characterized the event as a being a mistake, this is not the first time something like this has happened.

Last November researchers revealed that Chinese telecom companies were able to redirect as much as 15% of worldwide internet traffic through China for more than 15 minutes in the spring of 2010.

Was this merely an error, as Lyon concludes, or was this another exercise conducted to test the rerouting methodology?

Either way, too many security events seem to have a Chinese connection, and when coupled with proven instances of state-sponsored Chinese cyber espionage, the totalitarian government's repeated denials of malicious intent have run thin.

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