If you encountered problems connecting to the Internet on Tuesday [Aug. 12], you weren't alone. Networking experts blame the wide-scale slowdown on outdated routing systems that are reaching their limits as the Internet continues to expand.
People in the IT industry have been referring to Tuesday's sluggish connectivity as 512K Day. Similar to the Y2K worries that caused computing troubles in the transition from the year 1999 to 2000, the 512K problem can be blamed on the arbitrary numbers programmers are often forced to work with to keep systems from becoming too complex or unwieldy.
Just as programmers in the 1990s tried to limit the strain on computers by using just two digits to represent years (i.e., "96" for 1996), the IT industry awhile back settled on 512,000 (512K) routes as an arbitrary limit for the number of routes that Internet routers could handle. Today, the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) Internet routing table -- a collection of routes that ISPs use to direct traffic through the Web -- has reached that limit, and older routing equipment can't handle the strain.
The result is a slowdown much like the one experienced by many users Tuesday.
It Will Keep Happening
Among those feeling the Internet's pain was eBay, whose users -- at least across northern Europe -- lost access for the 10th time this year, according to a report in The Telegraph. The Web Host Industry Review reported that network providers experiencing outages included AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner and Verizon.
Many Internet users shared their connectivity woes on Twitter using the hashtag #512k.
"Glad to see we are still susceptible to a high impact limit measured in kilobytes," Tweeted IT professional Omer Ayfer. Network engineer Andy Brown commented, "Total routes: 526483 -- Internet problems illustrated! #512k (PS: It's not a day, it'll keep on happening for a while!)."
The problem of "resource exhaustion" at 512K is one that the IT industry has seen coming for a while. Omar Santos, senior incident manager of the product security incident response team at Cisco, warned about the looming issue in a May 12, 2014, Cisco support forum blog post.
"Since the early 1990s, we've watched as the number of entries on the Internet routing table has steadily grown," Santos wrote. "It wasn't that long ago (2008) that the table reached 256k routes, triggering action by network administrators to ensure the continued growth of the Internet. Now that the table has passed 500,000 routes, it's time to start preparing for another significant milestone -- the 512k mark." (continued...)
Posted: 2014-08-16 @ 6:47pm PT
Also you need to include all packet inspection so our govt.'s can spy on us.. Oh good morning NSA staff, want to read the news too?
Posted: 2014-08-13 @ 8:28pm PT
@Millerf1: Interesting theory, I wonder if you're right!
Posted: 2014-08-13 @ 7:59pm PT
They are covering up the servers being hacked.