Blockchain for management of internet resources

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3 January 2009, the first version of the Bitcoin software was released. That date has been the really first time that blockchain technology has been revealed to the world. A blockchain is an immutable distributed ledger that records validated transactions permanently employing cryptography and a distributed consensus algorithms. All the information is stored and validated by all the nodes composing the peer-to-peer network without the need of a trusted third party. Bitcoin is the first application of this technology and it allows e-payments to be easily performed between two parties with no need of intermediaries. Since then the hype about the technology has led several advances, exceeding the pure financial sphere and attempting to solve disparate problems, rather than digital payments only. As example, Ethereum with its introduction of smart contracts, has been the first application of the so called 2.0 generation of blockchain technology. A smart contract is a self-executing program, stored in the blockchain, with the terms of the agreement between interested parties hard-coded in the contract definition. Smart contract allow trusted transactions and agreements to be performed between distrust parties without the need for any intermediary or external enforcement mechanism. Therefore, with the introduction of smart contracts, the blockchain paradigm can be extended to the automation of complex resource manipulation and transference procedures in a transparent and trustable manner, by means of the specification of these new types of contracts. Blockchain and smart contracts technology is being adopted in a vast number of scenarios, including finances, Internet of Things, health care, energy, education, and more. As with any novel technology, there are many open questions about its usage and potential. For this reason, we believe that practical experimentation is in order to have hands-on experiences. So we present this research work on the application of the blockchain technology for the management of internet resources. The first study we present in this thesis is the design of a blockchain based application to build a decentralised IP address registry. Empowering the blockchain technology we propose to change by design the centralized structure of the current system to manage the global pool of IP addresses and the centralized and hierarchical model that is implemented in the Resource Public Key Infrastructure (RPKI) that makes lower layers in the hierarchy susceptible to errors and abuses from entities placed in higher layers. Hence we present the design of InBlock, a Distributed Autonomous Organization (DAO) that provides decentralized management of IP addresses. The InBlock automates the process of assigning Internet resources to the user complying with the "law" written in its smart contracts. InBlock also fulfills the same objectives as the current IP address allocation organizations, i.e., uniqueness, fairness, conservation, aggregation, registration and minimized overhead. InBlock is implemented as a set of blockchain’s smart contracts in Ethereum and it implements all the functions needed for the management of a global pool of addresses without any human intervention. Moreover InBlock embeds an alternative trust model to the hierarchical one currently implemented by the RPKI. In this thesis we present two Proof of Concept (PoC) implementation of InBlock: InBlock6 and InBlock4. InBlock6 implements the InBlock design and is centred on the management of the IPv6 address space, that compared to the IPv4 address space, has way more free resources that can be assigned. InBlock4 inherits its functionalities but for the IPv4 address space and provides an alternative framework to register living resources (e.g. already assigned resources) into the blockchain to enable the decentralised route origin validation. We present the implementation and evaluation of both the PoC for the Ethereum blockchain and we quantify their performance. The second study we present in this thesis is on the design and a PoC implementation of the Internet Routing Blockchain (IRB), an implementation of the Internet Routing Registry (IRR) functionality within Hyperledger Fabric (HF). The IRR is a distributed routing database that provides a mechanism for validating the contents of Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) announcement messages and mapping an origin Autonomous System (AS) number to a list of networks [6]. The IRB relies on a permissioned blockchain technology that is inherently distributed, allows to preserve the decentralised nature of the IRR, overcomes the centralized governance model limitation of current used mechanism employing a consortium based model, provides consistency and information stall-ness prevention and offers a simple declaration syntax for the policy definition of ASes relationship. As the final contribution of this thesis we present a study about route leaks prevention and the utilization of the information stored in the IRR. A route leak is defined as the propagation of a route beyond its intended scope. Those events have historically caused a consistent number of incidents resulting in Internet disconnections and disservices that generates money loss. In this research work we present the design and the performance evaluation of Autonomous System Internet Registry Inference for path Authorization (ASIRIA), a mechanism for detecting leaked routes and leakage events that uses AS relationship information inferred from the IRR.
Blockchain, Distributed autonomous organization, Internet Routing Blockchain, IP address allocation, InBlock
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