On Monday, internet traffic was unexpectedly diverted to China after traveling through Nigerian and then Russian ISPs. Google suffered the most, with the G Suite, Google Search, and Google Analytics all being badly affected. At the time, it was unknown whether this was a malicious act by a third-party or an accident, but the Nigerian ISP MainOne has now shouldered the blame.
As Reuters reports, MainOne Cable Co. posted an update on its website explaining how the company, “experienced a technical glitch during a planned network upgrade and access to some Google services was impacted.” It was accidental and MainOne is not aware of any Google service being compromised, the company is also “doing all that is necessary” to ensure such a glitch can’t happen again.
Google’s original, yet lacking in detail response when the traffic diversion happened, turned out to be accurate. The problem was “external to Google,” but that makes it no less of a problem. The fact traffic can be diverted so easily, and in this case for a total of 74 minutes, should concern everyone, not just Google.
The positives to take away from this incident include Google carrying out an internal investigation which hopefully leads to more verification and security being put in place. The US China Economic and Security Review Commission also took notice. This Washington-based group was created in Oct. 2000 to advise Congress on the national security implications of the bilateral trade and economic relationship with China. The group is reviewing what happened to see if “legal tools or legislation or law enforcement activities can help address this problem.”
Clearly just trusting data will end up at the intended destination when sent over the internet is no longer good enough, but will this diversion be enough to trigger the work required to change that on a global scale?