Hurricane Beryl, as seen through Internet Outages

Hurricane Beryl made landfall in Texas around 2024-07-08 at 3:17am local time (CDT) (8:17 UTC). We see a fair number of Internet outages in the Huston area, presumably as people lost power due to flooding.

Compared to our view of Hurricane Harvey in 2017 in our blog and web, Beryl looks much less severe–we see fewer areas where most Internet acccess is out (as shown by red circles).

Our most recent data, about 10 hours after landfall (1:33pm local time, or 2024-07-08t18:33Z):

Just before landfall, at 3:17am local time (2024-07-08t08:17Z):

We wish the best for Texas, and for the residents of the Caribbean who experienced Beryl last week.

For current status, please see our near-real-time outage site. Data about this outage will be released at the end of the quarter.


congratulations to ASM Rizvi for his PhD

I would like to congratulate Dr. ASM Rizvi for defending his PhD at the University of Southern California in June 2024 and completing his doctoral dissertation “Mitigating Attacks that Disrupt Online Services Without Changing Existing Protocols”.

From the dissertation abstract:

ASM Rizvi and John Heidemann, after Rizvi's PhD defense.

Service disruption is undesirable in today’s Internet connectivity due to its impacts on enterprise profits, reputation, and user satisfaction. We describe service disruption as any targeted interruptions caused by malicious parties in the regular user-to-service interactions and functionalities that affect service performance and user experience. In this thesis, we propose new methods that tackle service disruptive attacks using measurement without changing existing Internet protocols. Although our methods do not guarantee defense against all the attack types, our example defense systems prove that our methods generally work to handle diverse attacks. To validate our thesis, we demonstrate defense systems against three disruptive attack types. First, we mitigate Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks that target an online service. Second, we handle brute-force password attacks that target the users of a service. Third, we detect malicious routing detours to secure the path from the users to the server. We provide the first public description of DDoS defenses based on anycast and filtering for the network operators. Then, we show the first moving target defense utilizing IPv6 to defeat password attacks. We also demonstrate how regular observation of latency helps cellular users, carriers, and national agencies to find malicious routing detours. As a supplemental outcome, we show the effectiveness of measurements in finding performance issues and ways to improve using existing protocols. These examples show that our idea applies to different network parts, even if we may not mitigate all the attack types.

Rizvi’s PhD work was supported by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s HSARPA Cyber Security Division (HSHQDC-17-R-B0004-TTA.02-0006-I, PAADDOS) in a joint project with the Netherlands Organisation for scientific research (4019020199), the U.S. National Science Foundation (grant NSF OAC-1739034, DDIDD; CNS-2319409, PIMAWAT; CRI-8115780, CLASSNET; CNS-1925737, DIINER ) and U.S. DARPA (HR001120C0157, SABRES), and Akamai.

Most data from his papers is available at no cost from ANT; please see specific publications for details.


new conference paper: Auditing for Racial Discrimination in the Delivery of Education Ads

Our new paper “Auditing for Racial Discrimination in the Delivery of Education Ads” will appear at the ACM FAccT Conference in Rio de Janeiro in June 2024.

From the abstract:

Experiments showing educational ads for for-profit schools are disproportionately shown to Blacks at statistically significant levels.  (from [Imana24a], figure 4).
Experiments showing educational ads for for-profit schools are disproportionately shown to Blacks at statistically significant levels. (from [Imana24a], figure 4).

Digital ads on social-media platforms play an important role in shaping access to economic opportunities. Our work proposes and implements a new third-party auditing method that can evaluate racial bias in the delivery of ads for education opportunities. Third-party auditing is important because it allows external parties to demonstrate presence or absence of bias in social-media algorithms. Education is a domain with legal protections against discrimination and concerns of racial-targeting, but bias induced by ad delivery algorithms has not been previously explored in this domain. Prior audits demonstrated discrimination in platforms’ delivery of ads to users for housing and employment ads. These audit findings supported legal action that prompted Meta to change their ad-delivery algorithms to reduce bias, but only in the domains of housing, employment, and credit. In this work, we propose a new methodology that allows us to measure racial discrimination in a platform’s ad delivery algorithms for education ads. We apply our method to Meta using ads for real schools and observe the results of delivery. We find evidence of racial discrimination in Meta’s algorithmic delivery of ads for education opportunities, posing legal and ethical concerns. Our results extend evidence of algorithmic discrimination to the education domain, showing that current bias mitigation mechanisms are narrow in scope, and suggesting a broader role for third-party auditing of social media in areas where ensuring non-discrimination is important.

This work was reported on in an article by Sam Biddle in the Intercept, by Thomas Claburn at The Register, and in ACM Tech News.

This paper is a joint work of Basileal Imana and Aleksandra Korolova from Princeton University, and John Heidemann from USC/ISI. We thank the NSF for supporting this work (CNS-1956435, CNS-
1916153, CNS-2333448, CNS-1943584, CNS-2344925, CNS-2319409,
and CNS-1925737).

Data from this paper is available from our website.


large Internet outage in the country Georgia

Starting on April 21, 2024, we observed a large Internet outage in the country Georgia. More than half the IP blocks in large parts of the country have become unreachable from the U.S., with the problem persisting for several days so far.

The timing of this outage is consistent with a recent resurgence of protests over the Georgian “Law on Transparency of Foreign Influence”.


large Internet outage in West Africa

On March 14, 2024, we observed a large outage in several West African countries. In Ivory Coast and Liberia, the outage was quite severe, affecting 93% of the active network blocks:

Serious Internet outages in Ivory Coast, beginning 2024-03-1409:00Z.

Fortunately some locations were able to partially recover from the problems, presumably by routing through different paths:

Lagos, Nigeria showed outages starting at 2024-03-14t08:00Z, with a partial recovery around t15:00Z.

The root cause for these outages is likely a problems in multiple undersea telecommunication cables, as has been reported in the Washington Post and the Guardian, among other places.


new conference paper: Anycast Polarization in The Wild

Our new paper “Anycast Polarization in The Wild” will appear at the 2024 Conference on Passive and Active Measurements (PAM 2024).

From the abstract:

The left figure shows the impacts of polarization. The Dallas, USA site for a CDN is receiving traffic from all over the world due to polarization. The red dots indicate high latency from Europe and Asia, even if Europe and India have anycast sites in their continent. We show this type of polarization is not uncommon. The right figure shows how a change in the routing configuration can improve the polarization problem. We can see almost no red dots from Europe and Asia continents.

IP anycast is a commonly used method to associate users with services provided across multiple sites, and if properly used, it can provide efficient access with low latency. However, prior work has shown that polarization can occur in global anycast services, where some users of that service are routed to an anycast site on another continent, adding 100 ms or more latency compared to a nearby site. This paper describes the causes of polarization in real-world anycast and shows how to observe polarization in third-party anycast services. We use these methods to look for polarization and its causes in 7986 known anycast prefixes. We find that polarization occurs in more than a quarter of anycast prefixes, and identify incomplete connectivity to Tier-1 transit providers and route leakage by regional ISPs as common problems. Finally, working with a commercial CDN, we show how small routing changes can often address polarization, improving latency for 40% of clients, by up to 54%.

This paper is a joint work by ASM Rizvi from USC/ISI and Akamai Technologies, Tingshan Huang from Akamai Technologies, Rasit Esrefoglu from Akamai Technologies, and John Heidemann from USC/ISI. ASM Rizvi and John Heidemann’s work was partially supported by DARPA under Contract No. HR001120C0157. John Heidemann’s work was also partially supported by the NFS projects CNS-2319409, CRI-8115780, and CNS-1925737. ASM Rizvi’s work was begun while on an internship at Akamai.


new conference paper: Ebb and Flow: Implications of ISP Address Dynamics

Our new paper “Ebb and Flow: Implications of ISP Address Dynamics” will appear at the 2024 Conference on Passive and Active Measurements (PAM 2024).

From the abstract:

[Baltra24a, figure 1]: A known ISP maintenance event, where we see users (green dots) ove from the left block to the right block for about 15 days. The bottom graphs show what addresses respond, as observed by Trinocular. We confirm this result from a RIPE Atlas probe that also moved over this time. This kind of event is detected by the ISP Availability Sensing (IAS), a new algorithm explored in this paper.

Address dynamics are changes in IP address occupation as users come and go, ISPs renumber them for privacy or for routing maintenance. Address dynamics affect address reputation services, IP geolocation, network measurement, and outage detection, with implications of Internet governance, e-commerce, and science. While prior work has identified diurnal trends in address use, we show the effectiveness of Multi-Seasonal-Trend using Loess decomposition to identify both daily and weekly trends. We use ISP-wide dynamics to develop IAS, a new algorithm that is the first to automatically detect ISP maintenance events that move users in the address space. We show that 20% of such events result in /24 IPv4 address blocks that become unused for days or more, and correcting nearly 41k false outages per quarter. Our analysis provides a new understanding about ISP address use: while only about 2.8% of ASes (1,730) are diurnal, some diurnal ASes show more than 20% changes each day. It also shows greater fragmentation in IPv4 address use compared to IPv6.

This paper is a joint work of Guillermo Baltra, Xiao Song, and John Heidemann. Datasets from this paper can be found at This work was supported by NSF (MINCEQ, NSF 2028279; EIEIO CNS-2007106.


new journal paper: “Deep Dive into NTP Pool’s Popularity and Mapping”

Our new paper “Deep Dive into NTP Pool’s Popularity and Mapping” will appear in the SIGMETRICS 2024 conference and concurrently in the ACM Proceedings of the ACM on Measurement and Analysis of Computing Systems, vol. 8, no. 1, March 2024.

From the abstract:

Number of ASes that are time providers per country (Figure 8 from [Moura24a]).

Time synchronization is of paramount importance on the Internet, with the Network Time Protocol (NTP) serving as the primary synchronization protocol. The NTP Pool, a volunteer-driven initiative launched two decades ago, facilitates connections between clients and NTP servers. Our analysis of root DNS queries reveals that the NTP Pool has consistently been the most popular time service. We further investigate the DNS component (GeoDNS) of the NTP Pool, which is responsible for mapping clients to servers. Our findings indicate that the current algorithm is heavily skewed, leading to the emergence of time monopolies for entire countries. For instance, clients in the US are served by 551 NTP servers, while clients in Cameroon and Nigeria are served by only one and two servers, respectively, out of the 4k+ servers available in the NTP Pool. We examine the underlying assumption behind GeoDNS for these mappings and discover that time servers located far away can still provide accurate clock time information to clients. We have shared our findings with the NTP Pool operators, who acknowledge them and plan to revise their algorithm to enhance security.

This paper is a joint work of

Giovane C. M. Moura1,2, Marco Davids1, Caspar Schutijser1, Christian Hesselman1,3, John Heidemann4,5, and Georgios Smaragdakis2 with 1: SIDN Labs, 2 Technical University, Delft, 3: the University of Twente, 4: the University of Southern California/Information Sciences Institute, 5: USC/Computer Science Dept. This work was supported by the RIPE NCC (via Atlas), the Root Operators and DNS-OARC (for DITL), SIDN Labs project, the Twente University Centre for Cyber Security Resarch, NSF projects CNS-2212480, CNS-2319409, the European Research Council ResolutioNet (679158), Duth 6G Future Network Services project, the EU programme Horizon Europe grants SEPTON (101094901), MLSysOps (101092912), and TANGO (101070052).


Large Internet Outage Around El Paso, Texas

On November 4th, 2023, we observed a large, 4-hour Internet outage around El Paso, Texas:

Trinocular’s outage report for west Texas on 2023-11-04.

News reports indicate that Spectrum had a cable cut.

Trinocular showed an outage from 8:40am to 1:05pm (mountain time zone), with an smaller initial outage starting at 7am (2023-11-04t15:40 to t20:00 UTC, possibly starting at 14:00 UTC). This outage was quite severe, affecting more than 40% of the local networks that we monitor.

Cable cuts are hard to deal with, and we’re happy that they were able to restore service relatively quickly!


congratulations to Guillermo Baltra for his PhD

I would like to congratulate Dr. Guillermo Baltra for defending his PhD at the University of Southern California in August 2023 and completing his doctoral dissertation “Improving network reliability using a formal definition of the Internet core”.

Guillermo Baltra (right) and his thesis advisor.

From the abstract:

After 50 years, the Internet is still defined as “a collection of interconnected networks”. Yet seamless, universal connectivity is challenged in several ways. Political pressure threatens fragmentation due to de-peering; architectural changes such as carrier-grade NAT, the cloud makes connectivity indirect; firewalls impede connectivity; and operational problems and commercial disputes all challenge the idea of a single set of “interconnected networks”. We propose that a new, conceptual definition of the Internet core helps disambiguate questions in analysis of network reliability and address space usage.

We prove this statement through three studies. First, we improve coverage of outage detection by dealing with sparse sections of the Internet, increasing from a nominal 67% responsive /24 blocks coverage to 96% of the responsive Internet. Second, we provide a new definition of the Internet core, and use it to resolve partial reachability ambiguities. We show that the Internet today has peninsulas of persistent, partial connectivity, and that some outages cause islands where the Internet at the site is up, but partitioned from the main Internet. Finally, we use our definition to identify ISP trends, with applications to policy and improving outage detection accuracy. We show how these studies together thoroughly prove our thesis statement. We provide a new conceptual definition of “the Internet core” in our second study about partial reachability. We use our definition in our first and second studies to disambiguate questions about network reliability and in our third study, to ISP address space usage dynamics.

Guillermo’s PhD work was supported by NSF grants CNS-1806785, CNS-2007106 and NSF-2028279 and DH S&T Cyber Security Division contract 70RSAT18CB0000014 and a DHS contract administred by AFRL as contract FA8750-18-2-0280, to USC Viterbi, the Armada de Chile, and the Agencia Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo de Chile (ANID).

Please see his individual publications for what data is available from his research; his results are also in use in ongoing Trinocular outage detection datasets.