Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic

Content Delivery Networks and clouds join MANRS internet security effort

With the internet being hammered as never before, CDNs and cloud are joining with the Internet Society to help secure vital internet routing.

Coronavirus: No, the internet isn't collapsing because of all your extra traffic

So far, the internet is holding up underneath the unprecedented demands being put on it by the coronavirus pandemic. But, as the recent Google services failure from a single router failure showed, the internet remains fragile. That's why the Internet Society and the Mutually Agreed Norms for Routing Security (MANRS) initiative have started the Content Delivery Network (CDN) and Cloud Programme "to help secure large hubs of the Internet from common routing problems."

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MANRS is a global initiative devoted to building more resilient internet by providing crucial fixes to reduce the most common routing threats. Two hundred and ninety-three internet network operators and 48 Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) are already members. Their job as MANRS members is to address internet routing security problems.

As important as the Internet Service Providers (ISP)s are, over half of the internet's traffic currently flows through CDNs and cloud providers. You see when you visit a website now, chances are you're not getting the data directly from the page but via a CDN, such as Cloudflare

CDNs do this by gathering up data from sites, placing it in distributed caches and then sending you the page's information from the closest cache. Thus, CDNs and cloud providers exchange traffic, or peer, with thousands of other networks. So, in short, CDNs are as fully part of the internet's interconnection infrastructure as ISPs.

In recognition of their role in keeping the internet running smoothly, many CDNs and clouds are joining MANRS's new program. These include such world-leaders as Akamai, Amazon Web Services, Azion, Cloudflare, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Netflix. Other companies will join shortly.

These companies are agreeing to improve the internet's routing infrastructure resilience and security by taking the following steps. The first five of these six security-enhancing actions are mandatory. 

  1. Prevent propagation of incorrect routing information
  2. Prevent traffic of illegitimate source IP addresses
  3. Facilitate global operational communication and coordination
  4. Facilitate validation of routing information on a global scale
  5. Encourage MANRS adoption
  6. Provide monitoring and debugging tools to peering partners (optional)

Andrei Robachevsky, the Internet Society's Senior Director for Technology Programs, said in a statement:

"The CDN and cloud community is integral to the Internet ecosystem, and by joining MANRS, they are joining a community of ISPs and IXPs committed to making the global routing infrastructure more secure."

Netflix, with 12.6% of total internet downstream traffic in the first half of 2019, is the single largest consumer of internet traffic and sees much good from joining MANRS. 

Gina Haspilaire, Netflix Open Connect's vice president and global partner engagement, said: 

"We believe it is in the best interest of Netflix to be a good internet citizen and join the internet industry to address routing security issues. A secure routing framework is essential to maintaining the ongoing health and stability of the global Internet, and MANRS provides the resources to develop, foster, and promote this framework." 

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