IXPs as Community Generators

30/11/2021

A program designed to support Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) in Latin America and the Caribbean which LACNIC, the Internet Society (ISOC), and LAC IX have now been implementing for almost two years has allowed most of the organizations participating in the initiative to adopt security standards and improve their internal routing.

Thirteen IXPs and approximately 80 professionals across the region participated in the project, through which they received training and support for the implementation of the RPKI validation system, the automation of their route servers, and their certification on Mutually Agreed Standards for Routing Security (MANRS).

Mauricio Oviedo, CEO of SOCIUM.CR, a company cooperating with this project, highlighted the synergy with the organizations involved in the project and noted that most IXPs had incorporated security standards and organized their internal routing with the support of LACNIC, ISOC, and LAC IX.

The plan also had an impact beyond IXPs, as it led to the improvement of Internet security at the country level and the regional level. “We work with Traffic Exchange Points because they concentrate a large part of each country’s traffic,” Oviedo explained.

Resources were optimized and routing security processes were accelerated to the point that most IXPs in the region now meet MANRS requirements. “Beyond installing software or equipment for a specific purpose, the advantage is that they now have a more secure platform and can show others that MANRS can indeed be applied,” he added.

The program also promoted the creation of a technical community made up by representatives of each IXP and each country who are involved in best practices. 

The tools provided to IXPs include route servers implemented with BIRD software which, along with the installation of RPKI validators, allow improving routing stability and security. Software such as IXP Manager, reverse zone DNS services, and BGP collectors were installed to organize IXP administration and obtain information on the routing tables in the LAC region.

IXP professionals received a two-part training. The first was during the implementation and documentation process, while the second consisted of an induction and knowledge transfer process.

The initiative also enabled IXPs to consider joint projects. In fact, now that they have standardized their operations and management, talks are underway to connect with each other. “IXPs now feel more confident with the infrastructure they have,” Oviedo concluded. 

Neuralgic Points. Guillermo Cicileo, Head of Internet Infrastructure Research and Development at LACNIC stressed that a large part of Internet traffic passes through the IXPs in each country. “We believe IXPs are neuralgic points and therefore have a double role: one the one hand, the traffic that passes through IXPs will be more secure; on the other, they generate a spill-over effect towards operators in their management and handling of best practices,” Cicileo added.

When standards are implemented by IXPs, there is a multiplier effect towards operators. “The fact that traffic remains at the local level is an advantage in terms of increased efficiency, better bandwidths, and lower latency, but also in terms of security, as this traffic is less exposed to attacks from the global Internet,” Cicileo concluded. 

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