Connectivity

New FCC proposal would make it harder for bad actors to hijack US internet traffic

The agency suggested security checkups for ISPs to protect data streams.
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Sharing is caring, the Federal Communications Commission told internet providers Thursday, when it proposed requirements aimed at protecting web traffic from malicious interference.

The proposed initiative calls for ISPs to confidentially report on “the steps they have taken, and plan to undertake, to mitigate vulnerabilities in the Border Gateway Protocol,” or BGP, the technical framework that allows internet traffic to efficiently reach its destination.

According to the agency, the framework—though “widely deployed”—is outdated and vulnerable to attacks that can divert internet traffic and expose users’ personal information, disrupt services, and enable espionage if proper precautions aren’t taken.

“While BGP has allowed network operators to grow and evolve the modern internet, it was not designed with explicit security features to ensure trust in exchanged information,” FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said in prepared remarks. “That means bad actors can use this protocol to maliciously misdirect and exploit internet traffic.”

She noted that the US government has encountered real-world examples: The Department of Defense and Department of Justice publicly documented that state-owned China Telecom used BGP weaknesses to “misroute United States internet traffic on at least six occasions.”

If finalized, Thursday’s proposal would mandate that ISPs “prepare and maintain” confidential plans outlining how they ensure traffic-routing integrity on their networks. It would also set up more reporting requirements for nine of the largest service providers.

Keep up with the innovative tech transforming business

Tech Brew keeps business leaders up-to-date on the latest innovations, automation advances, policy shifts, and more, so they can make informed decisions about tech.