Internet Protocol Hijacking


Internet Protocol (IP) hijacking, also known as BGP hijacking or prefix hijacking, refers to the unauthorized takeover of IP address blocks or routing paths by exploiting vulnerabilities in the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP). Perpetrators manipulate BGP to redirect traffic, disrupt network services, or carry out man-in-the-middle attacks. IP hijacking can lead to data breaches, network disruptions, and financial losses for affected entities.


Intərˈnɛt ˈproʊtəkəl haɪˈdʒækɪŋ

Key Takeaways

  1. Internet Protocol hijacking, also known as IP hijacking or BGP hijacking, involves the unauthorized takeover of IP addresses or routing paths, leading to illegitimate control over portions of the Internet and redirecting data traffic.
  2. IP hijacking can have severe consequences, including the disruption of online services, theft of sensitive information, degradation of networks, and increased risks of cyberattacks for both individuals and organizations.
  3. To minimize the risk of IP hijacking, it is crucial to implement strong security measures, such as using Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) filtering, Resource Public Key Infrastructure (RPKI), and multi-factor authentication for network administrators in conjunction with network monitoring and incident response plans.


Internet Protocol (IP) Hijacking is an important term in technology because it refers to a malicious activity where attackers take unauthorized control of IP addresses or routing paths, often to perform cyberattacks, intercept and manipulate data, or perform identity spoofing.

This practice can have serious implications for businesses, government entities, and individuals, as it undermines the integrity and trust on the internet.

By being aware of IP Hijacking and understanding its significance, individuals and organizations can better protect their systems and networks, employ security measures to detect and prevent such incidents, and promote a safer and more secure online environment.


Internet Protocol (IP) hijacking, also known as BGP (Border Gateway Protocol) hijacking or prefix hijacking, is a malicious activity that aims to manipulate or interrupt the normal functioning of internet routing. The primary purpose of IP hijacking is to redirect traffic, often for nefarious reasons such as gaining unauthorized access to sensitive information, launching phishing attacks, or conducting espionage and surveillance. Cybercriminals involved in IP hijacking exploit the vulnerabilities in the Border Gateway Protocol, which is responsible for exchanging information between routers, to send false routing information, thus altering data paths or causing them to become unavailable.

This fraudulent redirection of internet traffic enables attackers to siphon off critical data, carry out man-in-the-middle attacks, or even censor or block access to particular websites. As internet security experts grapple with the challenges of battling IP hijacking, several mitigation strategies have been adopted in recent years. The introduction and implementation of security measures like Resource Public Key Infrastructure (RPKI) and BGPSEC (BGP Security) aim to boost the security of the Border Gateway Protocol.

These initiatives work to validate routing information by deploying cryptographic signatures, ensuring the authenticity of routes, and making it significantly harder for attackers to hijack IP addresses. The success of these countermeasures, however, relies on widespread adoption by network operators and internet service providers. In conclusion, the purpose of IP hijacking is to exploit the foundational weaknesses of the internet routing system to facilitate unauthorized control and illicit distribution of information, which highlights the crucial need for robust security improvements in the global internet infrastructure.

Examples of Internet Protocol Hijacking

Internet Protocol (IP) hijacking, also known as BGP hijacking, is a malicious activity where an attacker takes control of a specific IP address or range of addresses by exploiting the weaknesses of the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP). Here are three real-world examples of IP hijacking incidents:

YouTube Outage (2008):In February 2008, YouTube experienced a massive global outage for about two hours. The reason behind the outage was a BGP hijacking incident. A Pakistani ISP, Pakistan Telecom, tried to comply with a government request to block local access to YouTube. Instead of just blocking access locally, the ISP accidentally announced itself as the correct path to YouTube (by injecting more specific prefix) to its upstream Tier-1 provider, causing a large portion of global traffic intended for YouTube to flow through Pakistan Telecom’s network. The incident demonstrated the potential risks of BGP hijacking.

Amazon Route 53 DNS Hijacking (2018):In April 2018, a cryptocurrency platform called MyEtherWallet suffered a significant security breach. Attackers managed to hijack part of Amazon’s Route 53 DNS infrastructure by exploiting BGP vulnerabilities. They redirected traffic intended for MyEtherWallet to a malicious phishing site, stealing around $150,000 worth of cryptocurrency. Amazon was quick to resolve the issue, but the incident highlighted the dangers of IP hijacking.

China Telecom BGP Hijacking (2010-2012, Ongoing incidents):From 2010 to 2012, China Telecom was found rerouting significant portions of internet traffic through its networks, affecting major U.S. and European organizations. A report published by the U.S. Naval War College and Tel Aviv University alleged that China Telecom hijacked the BGP routing system purposely to intercept internet data from U.S. and other countries’ networks. China Telecom denied the allegations, but these incidents demonstrate how IP hijacking could potentially be used for espionage and cyber warfare purposes.

FAQ: Internet Protocol Hijacking

1. What is Internet Protocol Hijacking?

Internet Protocol Hijacking, also known as IP Hijacking, is a cyber attack in which attackers gain unauthorized control over the communication between devices by manipulating the IP addresses involved in the data exchange. This can lead to data theft, interruption of communication, or other malicious activities.

2. How does IP Hijacking work?

IP Hijacking typically works by exploiting vulnerabilities in the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), which is used to route data across the internet. By injecting false routing information, attackers can redirect traffic between network devices, intercepting it for their own purposes.

3. What are the potential impacts of IP Hijacking?

The impacts of IP Hijacking can be severe and far-reaching, including data theft, interruption of service, unauthorized access to systems, loss of trust, and even financial damages. Due to the network-wide implications of this attack, it can cause significant harm to both individuals and organizations.

4. How can I protect myself from IP Hijacking attacks?

To protect yourself from IP Hijacking, it’s essential to implement strong security best practices, such as keeping your hardware and software up to date, monitoring your network for unusual activity, and using encryption for sensitive data transmission. Additionally, organizations should work with internet service providers that offer BGP security measures and consider implementing Route Origin Authorization (ROA) to validate the legitimacy of data routes.

5. What is being done to prevent IP Hijacking?

Various efforts are being made to prevent IP Hijacking, including improved BGP security standards, deploying Resource Public Key Infrastructure (RPKI), and the creation of new network monitoring and filtering techniques. However, despite these advancements, it remains crucial for organizations to remain vigilant and prioritize preventative measures to protect against this type of cyber attack.

Related Technology Terms

  • Route Spoofing
  • BGP Hijacking
  • Man-in-the-Middle Attack
  • IP Spoofing
  • Denial of Service (DoS) Attack

Sources for More Information


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