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Unravelling the Mystery of Bogons: A senior stakeholder and IT professional guide

Uninvited guests lurking in IP space could harm you and your business




Introduction:


In the ever-evolving Internet landscape, a peculiar term called "Bogons" comes up occasionally. While it may sound whimsical or obscure, bogons have significant implications for senior stakeholders and IT professionals. In this blog post, we will delve into the world of bogons, exploring three compelling reasons why senior stakeholders should be motivated to take action, followed by three reasons why IT Security and IT Operations should be concerned about bogons.


Part 1: What are Bogons?


Bogons are like people who show up with fake reservations at your favorite restaurant; they will occupy your reserved table while you remain inconvenienced. In the world of computers and networks, these 'bogons' are like mysterious guests who shouldn't be there but somehow slip through the cracks and bring tangible business risks with them.


'Bogons' are IP addresses or network blocks that shouldn't exist on the Internet. They are reserved for private use and are not assigned to anyone, or the Regional Internet Registry (RIR) reclaims them and puts them on hold. Most bogons look and function like regular IP addresses, so your network devices won't necessarily take any action by default when they see traffic related to bogons. But since using bogons on the public Internet is already violating accepted best practices, chances are good that anyone using bogons may have malicious intentions in mind.


Just as you wouldn't want nefarious or fake guests in a restaurant causing chaos, networks don't want bogons to cause any trouble. They can lead to various problems, such as unauthorized access attempts, network congestion, or data exfiltration. It's as if these rude guests are trying to disrupt the smooth flow of your evening on purpose.


Secure networks use filtering systems to identify and block bogons, just as you would have a booking reference at the restaurant entrance to prevent unauthorized guests from entering. The filtering system checks incoming and outgoing network traffic, ensuring only valid IP addresses can pass through. This way, the network maintains order, security, and efficient operation.


By filtering out bogons, networks can focus on legitimate traffic and avoid wasting resources on those mysterious and unnecessary addresses. It's like having a well-managed reservation system that only accommodates genuine guests, making your restaurant experience more secure and efficient.


In summary, bogons are like unwanted guests in a restaurant who shouldn't be there. They are IP addresses that don't belong or aren't assigned to anyone on the public Internet. Filtering bogons from network traffic is crucial to maintain security, efficiency, and proper functioning, just as keeping unauthorized guests out of a restaurant ensures a smooth dining experience.


Part 2: Reasons for Senior Stakeholders to Take Action


Protecting Reputation and Brand:

Senior stakeholders know the importance of maintaining a solid reputation and brand image. Accepting or passing network traffic related to bogons shows a general disregard for best practices on the Internet and lax enforcement of security standards. Network service providers, in particular, should take all necessary steps to prevent bogons from entering or leaving their networks, including from their customers. Bogons are often used for DDoS (distributed denial of service) and data exfiltration attacks, so even if bogons aren't impacting you directly, they may be traveling across your network to affect others. By running a clean network and implementing proper filtering mechanisms (bogon and otherwise), organizations can safeguard their brand integrity and maintain the trust of their customers and partners.


Ensuring Regulatory Compliance:

Compliance with data protection and privacy regulations is critical to business operations in today's digital age. Ignoring bogons can expose organizations to compliance violations and compromise, potentially resulting in legal repercussions and financial penalties. Taking a proactive approach to identifying and filtering bogons demonstrates a commitment to maintaining a secure and compliant infrastructure, which can help senior stakeholders avoid legal troubles and ensure a robust governance framework.


Mitigating Operational Risks:

Bogons can introduce operational risks by consuming network resources, leading to unnecessary costs, performance degradation, or service disruptions. These unapproved addresses can clutter network traffic and divert valuable resources, affecting the overall efficiency of IT operations. By addressing bogons, senior stakeholders can minimize risks, optimize network performance, and ensure uninterrupted functions, improving productivity and customer satisfaction.


Part 3: Why IT Security and IT Operations should be ‘bogon proactive’


Enhancing Network Security:

Bogons are often associated with malicious activities, making them a priority for IT Security teams to identify and mitigate. Attackers can exploit unallocated or invalid addresses within bogon prefixes to launch attacks, infiltrate networks, or disguise their malicious activities.

Implementing effective bogon filtering mechanisms bolsters network security by:

  • preventing unauthorized access attempts

  • reducing the attack surface

  • improving threat detection capabilities.


Avoiding False Positives and Misconfigurations:

Bogons can contribute to false positives and misconfigurations in security systems and network devices. Without proper filtering, security solutions may flag bogon addresses as potential threats in error, triggering unnecessary alerts and straining security teams. Moreover, misconfigured systems or devices may inadvertently allow bogon traffic, undermining the effectiveness of security measures. By actively addressing bogons, IT professionals can:

  • minimize false positives

  • streamline incident response efforts

  • optimize security operations.


Ensuring Efficient Resource Allocation:

Bogons consume valuable network resources, including bandwidth, processing power, and storage. This inefficient resource allocation can impact overall system performance, leading to degraded user experience and reduced operational efficiency. By implementing robust bogon filtering mechanisms, IT Operations teams can:

  • Reclaim these resources, optimize network utilization, and ensure efficient allocation for critical business functions

  • Improve performance, scalability, and cost-effectiveness


Conclusion


Despite their whimsical name, Bogons pose tangible risks and challenges for organizations across industries. By understanding the motivations of senior stakeholders and recognizing the concerns of IT Security and IT Operations, organizations can take proactive steps to address bogons. Implementing effective filtering mechanisms, investing in network security measures, and optimizing resource allocation will enhance the organization's cybersecurity posture and improve reputation, regulatory compliance, and operational efficiency. Embracing the battle against bogons is essential to navigate the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape and safeguard the digital infrastructure in today's interconnected world.


Recommendations


Don't panic. However, bogon filtering is non-trivial and requires careful planning and execution to ensure minimal disruption to services, networks, and infrastructure. Bogon filtering complexity is compounded by the fact that specific bogon filtering lists can change daily. One day an IP is a bogon; next week, it may be a valid IP address. However, with some examples of web server traffic volumes being significantly bogon related, the challenges are worth the rewards. Team Cymru provides free access and trusted and constantly updated tools to help organizations filter out bogon IPs. These tools seamlessly integrate into your webservers, firewalls, routers, and monitoring systems. Bogons are likely a potential risk or direct threat to your organization; sign up for our free-to-use bogon filtering service here.


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