The cause of these disruptions is the constant growth in IPv4 address usage across the Internet and the resultant impact on network equipment's BGP routing tables. IPv4 addresses are used to perform the vast majority of the routing on the global Internet and the significant increase in the number of connected devices has led to an increasing demand online presence. This has led ISPs and registrars to split IP address blocks and allocate much smaller ranges to each new customer due to the demand for resilience, meaning that the total number of IP addresses in active use has grown significantly.
The core network routing technology called Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), stores a vast database of IPv4 addresses in order to build a routing table for Internet destinations. These tables are monitored globally by multiple groups, including Team Cymru and NANOG (team Cymru, 13/08/2014, http://www.team-cymru.org/). On Tuesday this week the number of IPv4 routes exceeded 512,000 for the first time. This number of 512k corresponds to factory default configuration limits in older equipment from some technology vendors, including
Many devices have much higher limits, allowing for a greater number of routing entries, and some routers can be reconfigured to allocate additional Tertiary Memory to expand this table, though it will be the case that some older equipment may need to be replaced altogether. Most equipment vendors have issued guidelines on how to work around these issues, unfortunately, often requiring a reboot to apply the changes which does cause additional outages as a result.
Many ISPs and services are returning to normal as these emergency changes are implemented, though there remains the possibility of future disruption for any provider that has not implemented the required changes across their entire estate of affected devices.
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