The number of routing protocols feels endless and overlapping. Some of the most common household names for IT and data specialists are BGP and DNS routing. How does each of them perform? Do any of them overlap? Is every routing protocol safe?
These two routing systems have become more widely known over the years as constant, safe access to online content rises in importance — it’s almost a necessity. BGP and DNS have a way to improve or hinder these experiences, and many have experienced these protocols’ side effects without realizing it.
Analyzing how they enhance security and user experiences on the internet will determine which of the two is the more valuable and effective routing protocol.
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Differences in How BGP and DNS Work
In short, the border gateway protocol (BGP) connects everything on the internet. It does this by choosing how to share information during the routing process. In local area networks (LAN), this happens seamlessly with little effort since there is a shared connection to a distinct network than can parse addresses quickly. However, as operations scale, BGPs must connect to countless LANs to feed information efficiently and safely.
Organizations and internet service providers (ISPs) are autonomous systems (AS). This is vital, as each AS handles routing its traffic — redirecting information inbound to the AS and outbound to the internet, or external BGP. When routers receive the info passed through BGP, tables determine where the data will end up. The tables choose the safest and best path for information, not necessarily the fastest, ensuring the information reaches appropriate destinations based on user queries.
If BGP tells users how information gets to its destination, DNS tells you where. You could compare a domain name system (DNS) to the phonebook. It is a database of domain names — lists of every website you could type in the search bar. The perk is that DNS translates those into IP addresses so users can access the internet more efficiently.
DNS is why millions of people can simultaneously be on Facebook or YouTube. A domain name system can associate with countless IP addresses, allowing for more streamlined online experiences. It enables many users to connect to one destination — without it, only one person could have access while others wait in a queue.
Both routing protocols protect users by allowing them to freely surf the internet through trusted sources by filtering traffic. They provide security protocols but work in different ways; each protocol is unique and provides its own pros and cons.
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BGP Pros and Cons
BGP offers specialists and regular internet users the same ability to access unlimited, quality internet content that meets their needs. But how does this both help and hurt BGP’s standing against DNS routing?
BGP’s most significant benefit is that it is highly customizable. Because BGP operates based on the large set of information available in tables, it’s easy to alter what to advertise and what not. Curating paths is most straightforward with this protocol to ensure accepted routes.
It also allows routing on a large scale. This stability ensures routers quickly adapt — if one path becomes blocked, BGP can find another. Corporate networks can freely connect with multiple ISPs, for example, and it’s easy to reroute traffic no matter the scale of an enterprise. This helps with distributing information load.
BGP makes cloud security and routing more straightforward. Even Cloud Router — Google’s Cloud services — use BGP protocol to connect virtual private cloud networks to other networks. More businesses are moving to cloud services for security benefits, cost-effectiveness, centralization, and reliability. BGP assists in creating these environments.
Sometimes data gets lost in translation — these are called information exchange failures and refer to unsuccessful parsing. When this happens, websites cannot advertise their domains, causing inaccessibility or wrong IP addresses. Specialists will see these failure messages as malformed requests to troubleshoot.
Because BGP can connect many AS locations, a single internet service provider could unintentionally affect the entire world’s connectivity. In 2008, a Pakistani ISP unintentionally caused YouTube to go offline for hours because of a BGP mishap. Every AS should be able to connect with each other out of mutual trust, yet sometimes mistakes occur unintentionally or otherwise to reroute users.
BGP attempts to reroute traffic to the best location, not the fastest. Because of this, speed may not be optimal because AS entities can manipulate the site of the redirection.
Misinformation is a problem by itself. However, if BGP makes decisions based on provided data tables, choosing how to redirect can be a problematic security issue if that information is scrambled or inaccurate. There is a phenomenon called BGP hijacking — hackers infect routing protocols to redirect users to malicious sites by faking ownership of IP prefixes.
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DNS Pros and Cons
The DNS protocol is indispensable compared to others. However, just because it is non-negotiable in enabling people to surf the internet today does not mean its drawbacks aren’t significant.
Without DNS, humans would have to memorize IP addresses. DNS greatly simplifies the online experience by using domain names to create more accessible user experiences. This provides stability because the domain name stays the same when IP addresses change.
The amount of time and frustration saved by this protocol is astronomical, and some could argue it to be the only reason humans have been able to rely on the internet so much at this point in history.
DNS also creates faster internet processing speeds by resolving domain names in record time. This does not define private internet speeds, but it will help load times significantly. You can also keep speeds up by decreasing outages and providing alternative connections that maintain internet uptime even during server maintenance.
Arguments concerning net neutrality arise when discussing how one nonprofit in one country controls DNS, known as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. This defined administration diminishes efforts to decentralize internet content and its applications, especially since it’s a globally used protocol.
When DNS servers are down, users cannot access sites. Millions experienced this during the Facebook systems outage in October 2021. If hackers uprooted DNS servers like this, it would be challenging to discover identifying information about initiators since all specialists have is an IP address — hackers could fix those.
Despite DNS being a great asset alongside excellent cybersecurity protocol, it has vulnerabilities. Hackers can corrupt domain names to redirect users to fake or malicious sites, inciting attacks. For example, they can manipulate existing domains and create misleading ones to use for phishing attacks.
Therefore, analysts and IT departments must keep tabs to ensure the server is secure and operational. The internet depends on DNS, and when it shuts down, the internet will follow suit. Troubleshooting is sometimes complex, but this occurs with BGP as well.
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BGP vs. DNS Routing: Which One Wins?
Both of these systems work symbiotically to help communications perform at their peak. Each also works well with cybersecurity third parties since specialists can route activity through them for added safety measures in any organization.
Without these protocols and many others, information transmission worldwide would be far riskier than it is now. Even though there have been mishaps, these provide opportunities for the countless autonomous systems in the world to develop better relationships with protocols and more maturely and efficiently navigate them.