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OPLIN 4Cast #748: 175 million unused Pentagon IP addresses woke up

Posted in 4cast, Internet, and Security

As the internet was originally a U.S. Department of Defense project, huge swaths of addresses were allocated to the DoD. IP addresses have become increasingly valuable, but the Defense Dept. has successfully fended off attempts to force them to sell. But suddenly, while the country was rolling from the Trump to the Biden administration, some of those addresses became routable, and the address space quickly grew to the largest collection of IP addresses controlled by a single entity. This week, the Pentagon offered a partial explanation.

  • The big Pentagon internet mystery now partially solved [AP News] “A very strange thing happened on the internet the day President Joe Biden was sworn in. A shadowy company residing at a shared workspace above a Florida bank announced to the world’s computer networks that it was now managing a colossal, previously idle chunk of the internet owned by the U.S. Department of Defense.”
  • Minutes before Trump left office, millions of the Pentagon’s dormant IP addresses sprang to life [Washington Post] “The change is the handiwork of an elite Pentagon unit known as the Defense Digital Service, which reports directly to the secretary of defense. The DDS bills itself as a ‘SWAT team of nerds’ tasked with solving emergency problems for the department and conducting experimental work to make big technological leaps for the military.”
  • The Pentagon gave a company control of 175 million IP addresses [Engadget] “The military might use knowledge from the pilot to prevent hostile governments or cybercriminals from hijacking dormant IP addresses. This also makes sure the US can manage the IP addresses so that it can use them if it likes.”
  • The Mystery of AS8003 [Kentik Blog] “While yesterday’s statement from the DoD answers some questions, much remains a mystery. Why did the DoD not just announce this address space themselves instead of directing an outside entity to use the AS of a long dormant email marketing firm? Why did it come to life in the final moments of the previous administration?

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