Why Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) Doesn't Work

What is BGP?

Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) is a routing protocol that is used to exchange routing information between different networks on the internet. In simple terms, BGP is responsible for finding the best path for internet traffic to travel from one network to another. It operates at the edge of the internet, where different Autonomous Systems (AS) connect to each other. An AS is a group of networks that are under the control of a single organization or entity. BGP is used to exchange routing information between different ASes, allowing traffic to be routed between them. BGP is a complex protocol that takes into account various factors when determining the best path for traffic. These factors include the number of hops between networks, the bandwidth and latency of the links, and the policies of each AS regarding traffic routing.

BGP uses a system of "routes" to determine how traffic should be routed between different networks. A route is a set of network addresses and a list of ASes that traffic must pass through to reach its destination. When an AS receives routing information from another AS, it uses this information to construct a routing table that lists all available routes and selects the best route for each destination based on its own policies. It is critical for the functioning of the internet, as it allows different networks to communicate with each other and ensures that traffic is routed efficiently between them. However, BGP also has some inherent limitations and challenges, as described in the previous section.

Lack of Security Measures

One of the biggest weaknesses of BGP is the lack of built-in security measures. BGP relies on trust between different networks to exchange routing information, and there is no mechanism in place to verify the authenticity of the information being exchanged. This can lead to attacks such as BGP hijacking, where an attacker can announce false routes and divert traffic to their network. While there are some mechanisms in place to mitigate these attacks, such as Resource Public Key Infrastructure (RPKI), they are not widely adopted, and BGP remains vulnerable to these types of attacks.

Lack of Routing Policy Granularity

BGP's routing policies are based on the concept of Autonomous Systems (AS), which are groups of networks under a common administrative domain. While this provides a degree of flexibility in terms of routing policies, it can also lead to a lack of granularity in routing decisions. For example, if an ISP has multiple customers that are experiencing congestion on their links, BGP may not be able to differentiate between them and may route traffic based on other criteria, such as shortest path. This can lead to inefficient use of network resources and can result in poor performance for end-users.

Slow Convergence

BGP's convergence time can be slow, particularly in large networks with complex routing policies. When a route becomes unavailable, BGP can take several minutes to converge on a new route. This can result in network downtime and can impact the user experience. While there are some mechanisms in place to improve convergence time, such as the BGP add-path extension, these are not widely adopted, and BGP remains vulnerable to slow convergence.

Lack of Scalability

BGP's scalability is a concern, particularly as the number of routes and networks on the Internet continues to grow. BGP routers must maintain a full routing table of all known routes on the Internet, which can be a significant burden on router memory and CPU resources. This can limit the number of BGP routers that can be deployed and can impact the scalability of the Internet as a whole.

Limited Support for Multihoming

Multihoming is the practice of connecting a network to multiple ISPs for redundancy and load balancing. BGP is often used to manage multihomed networks, but it has some limitations in this regard. For example, BGP can only provide equal-cost load balancing, which may not be sufficient for some applications. Additionally, BGP's lack of support for traffic engineering can make it difficult to optimize traffic flows in a multihomed environment.

In conclusion, while BGP is an essential protocol for routing traffic on the Internet, it has some inherent limitations that can make it ineffective in certain situations. The lack of security measures, limited routing policy granularity, slow convergence, scalability concerns, and limited support for multihoming are all factors that can impact the performance and reliability of BGP. While there are some mechanisms in place to mitigate these issues, they are not widely adopted, and BGP remains vulnerable to these types of problems. As the Internet continues to evolve, it will be important to address these issues to ensure the continued stability and reliability of the network.

To learn mora about our products, book a demo here:

Book a Demo