How a Nigerian ISP Accidentally Hijacked the Internet


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How a Nigerian ISP Accidentally Hijacked the Internet

22.Lock ScreenEffect

On November 12, 2018, a small ISP in Nigeria made a mistake while updating its network infrastructure that highlights a critical flaw in the fabric of the Internet. The mistake effectively brought down Google — one of the largest tech companies in the world — for 74 minutes.

To understand what happened, we need to cover the basics of how Internet routing works. When I type, for example, into my browser and hit enter, my computer creates a web request and sends it to servers. These servers likely reside in a different state or country than I do. Therefore, my Internet service provider (ISP) must determine how to route my web browser's request to the server across the Internet. To maintain their routing tables, ISPs and Internet backbone companies use a protocol called Border Gateway Protocol (BGP).

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