Understanding BGP: Its Advantages Over EGP and Role in Internet Outages

In the complex world of internet infrastructure, the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) stands out as a crucial component. But what is BGP, and how does it compare to its predecessor, the Exterior Gateway Protocol (EGP)? More importantly, why is it often associated with internet outages? This article delves into these questions, offering insight into the workings of the internet.

What is BGP?

Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) is the protocol governing how data packets are routed across the internet. It’s responsible for finding the most efficient paths for data transfer across different autonomous systems (AS), which are large networks operated by internet service providers, universities, and large corporations.


BGP is often compared to EGP, the protocol it superseded. While EGP was designed for a more simplistic, hierarchical internet structure, BGP was developed to address the burgeoning complexity of the network. Here’s how BGP improved upon EGP:

  1. Flexibility and Scalability: BGP introduced more sophisticated route selection criteria, allowing for a more flexible, scalable approach to routing decisions.
  2. Policy-Based Routing: BGP supports complex routing policies suitable for the multifaceted nature of modern internet topology.
  3. Robustness and Stability: BGP’s ability to recompute routes dynamically contributes to overall internet robustness and stability.

Why Does BGP Cause Outages?

Despite its advancements, BGP is often linked to internet outages. These are primarily due to its trust-based nature and complexity:

  1. Misconfigurations: Human error in configuring BGP can lead to routing paths being announced incorrectly, causing traffic to be misrouted.
  2. Security Vulnerabilities: BGP lacks built-in security features, making it susceptible to hijacking and other malicious activities.
  3. Interdependency: The interdependent nature of BGP means that a single issue can cascade through the network, causing widespread disruptions.

Enhancing BGP: Towards a More Secure and Resilient Protocol

Improving BGP involves addressing its inherent vulnerabilities while capitalizing on its strengths. Several strategies are key to making BGP more secure and resilient:

  1. Implementation of Security Protocols: Introducing protocols like Resource Public Key Infrastructure (RPKI) helps authenticate route originations, reducing the likelihood of route hijacking. Similarly, implementing BGPsec, an extension of BGP that adds cryptographic security, can ensure the integrity and authenticity of the routing information exchanged.
  2. Better Monitoring and Automation: Improved monitoring tools can detect anomalies in routing behavior more quickly, minimizing the impact of misconfigurations or attacks. Automating responses to these anomalies can further reduce reaction times and human error.
  3. Policy and Process Improvements: Establishing clearer policies for routing and more rigorous processes for configuration management can help prevent misconfigurations. Regular audits and adherence to best practices are vital.
  4. Collaboration and Information Sharing: Encouraging greater collaboration and information sharing among ISPs and other network operators can lead to faster identification and resolution of issues. This collective approach is crucial in a globally interconnected environment.
  5. Training and Awareness: Investing in training for network engineers and raising awareness about BGP’s intricacies and potential risks can help in better management and quicker response to issues.

Implementing these improvements can significantly enhance the reliability, security, and overall performance of BGP, making the internet a more robust and secure network for all its users.


BGP represents a significant advancement over EGP, offering flexibility, scalability, and robust routing capabilities. However, its complexity and trust-based model contribute to vulnerabilities that can result in large-scale internet outages. Addressing these vulnerabilities through improved practices and enhanced security measures is essential to maintaining the resilience of internet infrastructure. As the internet continues to evolve, the role and functioning of BGP will remain a critical area for ongoing innovation and development.

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