Recent Articles

 

IPv6 Performance - Revisited

August 2016

Every so often I hear the claim that some service or other has deliberately chosen not to support IPv6, and the reason cited is not because of some technical issue, or some cost or business issue, but simply because the service operator is of the view that IPv6 offers an inferior level service as compared to IPv4, and by offering the service over IPv6 they would be exposing their clients to an inferior level of performance of the service. But is this really the case? More...

 


IETF 96

July 2016

The IETF meetings are relatively packed events lasting over a week, and it’s just not possible to attend every session. From the various sessions I attended here are a few personal impressions that I took away from the meeting that I would like to share with you. More...

 


Hosts vs Networks

July 2016

There are a number of ways to view the relationship between hosts and the network in the Internet. One view is that this is an example of two sets of cooperating entities that share a common goal: hosts and the network both want content to be delivered. Another view is that hosts and networks have conflicting objectives. This was apparent in a couple of sessions at the recent IETF 96 Meeting. More...

 


One Second Warning

July 2016

The Earth Orientation Centre is the bureau that looks after Universal Coordinated Time, and each six months they release a bulletin about their intentions for the next Universal Time correction window. This month they announced a leap second to be scheduled for midnight UTC 31 December 2016. More...

 


What is Google Up To?

June 2016

The astonishing rise and rise of the fortunes of Google has been one of the major features of both social and business life of the early 21st century. In the same way that Microsoft transformed the computer into a mainstream consumer product, Google has had a similar transformative effect upon its environment. More...

 


Open Season

June 2016

It seems that it's the season to consider "openess" in Internet Governance circles. The OECD has recently stated that: “the level of Internet openness will also affect the digital economy’s potential." And according to the Global Commission on Internet Governance (GCIG) “One Internet” report, an open and accessible Internet should generate several trillions of dollars a year in economic benefits. A fragmented Internet on the other hand would weigh on investment, trade and GDP, as well as on the right to free expression and access to knowledge.” It seems that the stakes are high when we consider Internet Openness. How well are we doing? More...

 


DNS Privacy

June 2016

The DNS is normally a relatively open protocol that smears its data (which is your data and mine too!) far and wide. Little wonder that the DNS is used in many ways, not just as a mundane name resolution protocol, but as a data channel for surveillance and as a common means of implementing various forms of content access control. But all this is poised to change. Now that the Snowden files have sensitized us to the level of such activities, we have become acutely aware that many of our tools are just way too trusting, way too chatty, and way too easily subverted. First and foremost in this collection of vulnerable tools is the Domain Name System. More...

 


Fragmenting IPv6

May 2016

The design of IPv6 represented a relatively conservative evolutionary step of the Internet protocol. Mostly, it's just IPv4 with significantly larger address fields. Mostly, but not completely, as there were some changes. IPv6 changed the boot process to use auto-configuration and multicast to perform functions that were performed by ARP and DHCP in IPv4. IPv6 added a 20-bit Flow Identifier to the packet header. IPv6 replaced IP header options with an optional chain of extension headers. IPv6 also changed the behaviour of packet fragmentation. Which is what we will look at here. More...

 


Declaring IPv6 an Internet Standard

April 2016

At the recent IETF meeting the topic of making IPv6 an Internet Standard came up. What is perhaps a little surprising is that it is not an Internet Standard already. Equally surprisingly, it is probably not quite ready to be an Internet Standard. And I think that's a good thing! More...

 


IPv6 and the Internet of Things

April 2016

It has often been claimed that IPv6 and the Internet of Things are strongly aligned, to the extent that claims are made they mutually dependant. Each needs the other. However, the evidence we have so far with small self-managed device deployments does not provide a compelling justification of this case. The question here is: Does the Internet of Things require IPv6 as an essential precondition, or are we going to continue to deploy an ever expanding population of micro devices within today’s framework of ever increasing address sharing on IPv4? More...

 


Declaring IPv4 "Historic"

April 2016

Is it time to declare IPv4 as an "Historic" Protocol Specification and move on with IPv6? Or is this so premature that the proposal is just an April Fools Day prank played out a few days too late? More...

 


DNS OARC 24

April 2016

For a supposedly simply query response protocol that maps names to IP addresses there a huge amount going on under the hood with the DNS. DNS OARC held a 2 day workshop in Buenos Aires prior to IETF 95. Here are my impressions of this meeting. More...

 


Rolling Roots

March 2016

In the world of public key cryptography, it is often observed that no private key can be a kept as an absolute secret forever. At some point keys need to be refreshed. And the root key of the DNS is no exception. Its time for this key to change. More...

 


DNS Zombies

March 2016

It seems that some things just never die, and this includes DNS queries. In a five month experiment encompassing the detailed analysis of some 44 billion DNS queries we find that one quarter of these DNS queries are zombies - queries that have no current user awaiting the response, and instead are echoes of previous queries. What is causing these zombies? Are we seeing deranged DNS resolvers that maniacally re-query the same questions and never accept the answer. Or is this something slightly more sinister and are we seeing evidence of widespread DNS stalking and shadowing? Let's find out. More...

 


NANOG 66

February 2016

NANOG continues to be one of the major gatherings on network operators and admins, together with the folk who work to meet the various needs of this community. Here are my reactions to some of the presentations I heard at NANOG 66, held in San Diego in February. More...

 


On the Internet Everyone is Connected to Everyone Else - Right?

February 2016

Are we seeing evidence of a fragmented Internet where some places on the Internet cannot reach other places? Are these differences in the perspectives of various routing vantage points signs of underlying fractures of the fabric of connectivity in the Internet? More...

(Full Report)


BGP in 2015

January 2016

The Border Gateway Protocol, or BGP, has been holding the Internet together, for more than two decades and nothing seems to be falling off the edge so far. But the past does not necessarily determine the future. How well is BGP coping with the ever-growing Internet? More...

 


Fragmentation

January 2016

One of the more difficult design exercises in packet switched network architectures is that of the design of packet fragmentation. In this article I’d like to examine IP packet fragmentation in detail and look at the design choices made by IP version 4, and then compare that with the design choices made by IP version 6. More...

 


Addressing 2015

January 2016

Time for another annual roundup from the world of IP addresses. What happened in 2015 and what is likely to happen in 2016? More...

 


What's in a Name?

December 2015

What’s the difference between .local and .here? Or between .onion and .apple? All four of these labels are capable of being represented in the Internet’s Domain Name System as a generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs), but only two of these are in fact delegated names while the other two cannot be delegated. It seems that Internet no longer has a single coherent name space, but has developed a number of silent and unsignalled fracture lines, and instead of being administered by a single administrative body there are a number of folk who appear to want to have a hand on the tiller! How have we managed to get ourselves into this somewhat uncomfortable position? More...

 


RIPE 71 Meeting Report

November 2015

The RIPE 71 meeting took place in Bucharest, Romania in November. Here are my impressions from a number of the sessions I attended that I thought were of interest. It was a relatively packed meeting held over 5 days so this is by no means all that was presented through the week. More...

 


IPv6 Performance

November 2015

Every so often I hear the claim that some service or other does not support IPv6 not because of some technical issue, or some cost or business issue, but simply because the service operator is of the view that IPv6 offers an inferior level service as compared to IPv4, and by offering the service over IPv6 they would be exposing their clients to an inferior level of performance of the service. But is this really the case? Is IPv6 an inferior cousin of IPv4 in terms of service performance? In this article I'd like to report the results of a large scale measurement of IPv4 and IPv6 performance looking at the relativities of IPv6 and IPv4 performance. More...

 


Transport Protocols

October 2015

One of the early refinements in the Internet protocol model was the splitting of the original Internet protocol from a single monolithic protocol specification into the Internet Protocol (IP) and a pair of transport protocols. The Internet Protocol layer is intended to be used by the internal switches within the network to forward the packet to its intended destination, while the Transport Protocol layer is intended to be used by the source and destination systems. In this article I’d like to look at what we’ve been doing since then with these transport protocols. More...

 


NANOG 65 Report

October 2015

NANOG 65 was once again your typical NANOG meeting: a set of operators, vendors, researchers and others for 3 days, this time in Montreal in October. Here’s my impressions of the meeting. More...

 


DNS OARC Fall 2015 Workshop

October 2015

The DNS Operations, Analysis and Research Centre holds a 2 day workshop twice a year. These are my impressions of the Fall 2015 workshop, held at the start of October in Montreal. More...

 


Some Thoughts on the Open Internet

October 2015

I’m sure we’ve all heard about “the Open Internet.” The expression builds upon a rich pedigree of term “open” in various contexts. We seem to have this connotation that “open” is some positive attribute, and when we use the expression of the “Open Internet” it seems that we are lauding it in some way. But in what way? So let’s ask the question: What does the “Open Internet” mean? More...

 


Measuring the Root Zone KSK Keyroll

September 2015

A little over five years ago the root zone of the DNS was signed with DNSSEC for the first time. At the time the Root Zone operators promised to execute a change of key in five years time. It's now that time and we are contemplating a roll of the root key of the DNS. The problem is that we believe that there are number of resolvers who are not going to follow the implicit signalling of a new key value. So for some users, for some domain names things will go dark when this key is rolled. Is there any way to predict in advance how big a problem this will be? More...

 


The Changing Mobile World

September 2015

Today’s Internet is undoubtedly the mobile Internet. Sales of all other forms of personal computers are in decline and the market focus is now squarely on tablets, “smart” phones and wearable peripherals. You might think that such significant volumes and major revenue streams would underpin a highly competitive and diverse industry base, but you’d be wrong. In 2014 84% of all of the new mobile smart devices were using Google’s Android platform, and a further 12% were using Apple’s iOS system. This consolidation of the platform supply into just two channels is a major change. Further changes are happening. In a world as seemlingly prodigious as the mobile Internet it’s scarcity that is driving much of these changes, but in this particular case it’s not the scarcity of IPv4 addresses. It’s access to useable radio spectrum.More...

 


The Global Village Idiot

August 2015

I recall from some years back, when we were debating in Australia some national Internet censorship proposal de jour, that if the Internet represented a new Global Village then Australia was trying very hard to position itself as the Global Village Idiot. And the current situation with Australia’s new Data Retention laws may well support a case for reviving that sentiment. More...

 


A Second Look at APNIC and IPv4 Address Exhaustion

August 2015
It has been said often enough that its easy to make predictions; the tough part is getting them right! And in trying to predict the manner that APNIC will exhaust its remaining supply of IPv4 addresses I’m pretty sure that I did not get it right in the most recent article on this topic. So I’ll try and correct that in a more detailed look at the situation. More...

 


Address Transfers in APNIC

August 2015

In 2010 the Asia Pacific Regional Address Policy community adopted a policy that permitted address holders in the region to transfer address registration records, enabling an aftermarket in IPv4 addresses to operate with the support of the APNIC registry function. While APNIC was still able to allocate addresses to meet demands there was very little in the way of activity in this market, but once APNIC was down to its last /8 of addresses in April 2011 the level of transfer activity has picked up. In this article I’d like to take a more detailed look at APNIC’s transfer log and see what it can tell us about the level of activity in the address market in the Asia Pacific region. More...

 


IPv4 Address Exhaustion in APNIC

August 2015

It has been over 4 years since APNIC, the Regional Internet Registry for the Asia Pacific Region handed out its last “general use” allocation of IPv4 addresses. Since April 2011 APNIC has been restricted to handing out addresses from a “last chance” address pool, and has limited the amount of addresses allocated to each applicant to a maximum of 1,024 addresses, or the equivalent of a /22. In this article I’d like to review where APNIC is up to with its remaining pools of IPv4 addresses. More...

 


Revisiting Apple and IPv6

July 2015

A few weeks ago I wrote about Apple's IPv6 announcements at the Apple Developers Conference. While I thought that in IPv6 terms Apple gets it, the story was not complete and there were a number of aspects of Apple's systems that were not quite there with IPv6. So I gave them a 7/10 for their IPv6 efforts. Time to reassess that score in the light of a few recent posts from Apple. More...

 


Changes to the Way We Measure IPv6

July 2015

For some years at APNIC Labs we have been conducting measurement experiments concerning the extent of use of IPv6 using a technique of embedding the measurements within the advertisement using Adobe Flash. The use of Adobe Flash as a scripting tool for the measurement system behind the online advertisement delivery system has always been somewhat of a compromise, in that we’ve been aware that not all systems support Flash, but at the time HTML5 was still in its early days. In the middle of June we added a second advertising stream using HTML5 as the scripting language for the Ad to augment the existing Flash stream, and in this article we’ll look at the changes this has meant to the data concerning the level of deployment of IPv6 as a result. More...

 


More Leaky Routes

June 2015

Most of the time, mostly everywhere, most of the Internet appears to work just fine. Indeed, it seems to work just fine enough to the point that that when it goes wrong in a significant way then it seems to be fodder for headlines in the industry press. But there are some valuable lessons to be learned from these route leaks about approaches to routing security. More...

 


An Update on IPv6

June 2015

In the coming weeks another Regional Internet Registry will reach into its inventory of available IPv4 addresses to hand out and it will find that there is nothing left. This is by no means a surprise, and the depletion of IPv4 addresses in the Internet could be seen as one of the longest slow motion train wrecks in history. As of mid June 2015 ARIN has 2.2 million addresses left in its available pool, and at the current allocation rate it will take around 30 days to run though this remaining pool. More...

 


Apple and IPv6

June 2015

It’s Apple’s Developers Conference time again, and in amongst the various announcements was week, in the “Platforms Status of the Union” presentation, was the mention of some recent IPv6 developments. As far as supporting IPv6 is concerned Apple still appear to get it! But do they really get all of it? More...

 


Multipath TCP

June 2015

The Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) is a core protocol of the Internet networking protocol suite. This protocol transforms the underlying unreliable datagram delivery service provided by the IP protocol into a reliable data stream protocol. This protocol was undoubtedly the single greatest transformative moment in the evolution of computer networks. The TCP protocol is now some 40 years old, but that doesn’t mean that it has been frozen over all these years. More...

 


NANOG 64

June 2015

Some notes from the NANOG 64 meeting. More...

 


Tech Note: Measuring DNS Behaviour

May 2015

The DNS is a very simple protocol. The protocol is a simple query / response interaction where the client passes a DNS transaction to a server with the query part of the transaction completed. The server fills in the answer part and possibly adds further information in the additional information part, and returns the transaction back to the client. All very simple. What could possibly go wrong? More...

 


Diving into the DNS

May 2015

The turning of the DNS from a distributed database query tool into a malicious weapon in the cyber warfare arena has had profound impacts on the thinking about the DNS. I remember hearing the rallying cry some years back: "Lets all work together to find all these open resolvers and shut them down!" These days I don't hear that any more. It seems that, like SPAM in email, we've quietly given up on eradication, and are now focusing on how to preserve service in a toxic world. I suppose that this is yet another clear case of markets in action: there is no money in eradication, but there is money in meeting a customer's requirement to allow their service to work under any circumstances. We've changed our self-perception from being the public DNS police to private mercenaries who work diligently to protect the interests of our paying customers. We are being paid to care about the victim, not to catch the attacker or even to prevent the attack. More...

 


The Internet of Stupid Things

April 2015

In those circles where Internet prognostications abound and policy makers flock to hear grand visions of the future, we often hear about the boundless future represented by “The Internet of Things”. In the vision of the Internet of Things we are going to expand the Internet beyond people and press on with connecting up our world using billions of these chattering devices in every aspect of our world. What do we know about the “things” that are already connected to the Internet? Some of them are not very good. In fact some of them are just plain stupid. And this stupidity is toxic, in that their sometimes inadequate models of operation and security can affect others in potentially malicious ways. More...

 


The Mobile Internet

March 2015

It has been observed that the most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it, and are notable only by their absence. So how should we regard the Internet? Is it like large scale electricity power generators: a technology feat that is quickly taken for granted and largely ignored? Are we increasingly seeing the Internet in terms of the applications and services that sit upon it and just ignoring how the underlying systems are constructed? To what extent is the mobile Internet driving this change in perception of the Internet as a technology we simply assume is always available, anytime and anywhere? What is happening in the mobile world? More...

 


Notes from NANOG 63

February 2015

This is a selected summary of the recent NANOG 63 meeting, held in early February, with some personal views and opinions thrown in. More...

 


Decision Time for the Open Internet

February 2015

On February 26 of this year the Federal Communications Commission of the United States will vote on a proposed new ruling on the issue of "Network Neutrality" in the United States, bringing into force a new round of measures that are intended to prevent certain access providers from deliberately differentiating service responses on the carriage services that they provide. More...

 


Addressing 2014

January 2015

Time for another annual roundup from the world of IP addresses. What happened in 2014 and what is likely to happen in 2015? This is an update to the reports prepared at the same time in previous years, so lets see what has changed in the past 12 months in addressing the Internet, and look at how IP address allocation information can inform us of the changing nature of the network itself. More...

 


BGP in 2014

January 2015

The Border Gateway Protocol, or BGP, has been holding the Internet together, for more than two decades and nothing seems to be falling off the edge so far. As far as we can tell everyone can still see everyone else, assuming that they want to be seen, and the distributed routing system appears to be working smoothly. All appears to be working within reasonable parameters, and there is no imminent danger of some routing catastrophe, as far as we can tell. For a protocol designed some 25 years ago, when the Internet of that time contained some 10,000 constituent networks, its done well to scale fifty-fold, to carry in excess of half a million routed elements by the end of 2014. More...

 


Workshop on DNS Future Root Service

December 2014

The theme of a workshop, held at the start of December 2014 in Hong Kong, was the considerations of further scaling of the root server system, and the 1½ day workshop was scoped in the form of consideration of approaches to that of the default activity of adding further anycast instances of the existing 13 root server anycast constellations. This was a workshop operating on at least three levels. Firstly there was the overt agenda of working through a number of proposed approaches that could improve the services provided by the DNS root service. The second was an unspoken agenda concerned with protecting the DNS from potential national measures that would “fragment” the DNS name space into a number of spaces, which includes, but by no means not limited to, the DNS blocking activities that occur at national levels. The third level, and an even less acknowledged agenda, is that there are various groups who want to claim a seat at the Root Server table. More...

 


The Resolvers We Use

November 2014

The Internet's Domain Name System is a modern day miracle. It may not represent the largest database that has ever been built, but nevertheless it's truly massive. The DNS is consulted every time we head to a web page, every time we send an email message, or in fact every time we initiate almost any transaction on the Internet. We assume a lot about the DNS. For example, content distribution networks are observed to make use of the location of the DNS resolver as being also the same location as the user. How robust is this assumption of co-locality of users and their resolvers? Are users always located "close" to their resolvers? More generally, what is the relationship between the end user, and the DNS resolvers that they use? Are they in fact closely related? Or is there widespread use of distant resolvers? More...

 


Who's Watching?

November 2014

It's been more than a year since Edward Snowden released material concerning the activities of US agencies in the area of cyber-intelligence gathering. A year later, and with allegations of various forms of cyber spying flying about, it's probably useful to ask some more questions. What is a reasonable expectation about privacy and the Internet? Should we now consider various forms of digital stalking to be "normal"? To what extent can we see information relating to individuals' activities online being passed to others? More...

 


ECDSA and DNSSEC

October 2014

Yes, that's a cryptic topic, even for an article that addresses matters of the use of cryptographic algorithms, so congratulations for getting even this far! This is a report of a an experiment conducted in September and October 2014 by the authors to measure the extent to which deployed DNSSEC-validating resolvers fully support the use of the Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA) with curve P-256. More...

 


NANOG 62

October 2014

NANOG 62 was held at Baltimore from the 6th to the 9th October. These are my observations on some of the presentations that occurred at this meeting. More...

 


Privacy and Security - Five Objectives

October 2014

It has been a very busy period in the domain of computer security. What with "shellshock", "heartbleed" and NTP monlink adding to the background of open DNS resolvers, port 445 viral nasties, SYN attacks and other forms of vulnerability exploits, it's getting very hard to see the forest for the trees. We are spending large amounts of resources in reacting to various vulnerabilities and attempting to mitigate individual network attacks, but are we making overall progress? What activities would constitute "progress" anyway? More...

 


Internet Regulation: Section 706 vs Title II

October 2014

At the NANOG meeting in Baltimore this week I listened to a presentation by Patrick Gilmore on “The Open Internet Debate: Section 706 vs Title II”. It’s true that this is a title that would normally induce a comatose reaction from any audience, but don’t let the title put you off. Behind this is an impassioned debate about the nature of the retail Internet for the United States, and, I suspect, a debate about the Internet itself and the nature of the industry that provides it. More...

 


How Big is That Network?

October 2014

There is a careful policy path to be followed that encourages continued investment and innovation in national telecommunications-related infrastructure and services, while at the time same time avoiding the formation of market distortions and inefficiencies. What helps in this regulatory process is clear information about the state of the industry itself. One of those pieces of information concerns the market scope of the retail Internet Service Provider sector. To put it another way, how “big” is a particular network? How many customers does it serve? Is its market share increasing or falling? More...

 


What's So Special about 512?

September 2014

The 12th August 2014 was widely reported as a day when the Internet collapsed. Despite the sensational media reports the following day, the condition was not fatal, and perhaps it could be more reasonably reported that some parts of the Internet were having a bad hair day. What was happening was that the Internet’s growth had just exceeded the default configuration limits of certain models of network switching equipment. In this article I'll look at how the growth of the routing table and the scaling in the size of transmission circuits impacts on the internal components of network routing equipment. More...