RIPE NCC Levant Regional Meeting Report

The RIPE NCC Levant Regional Meeting was held on 25 April at the Movenpick Hotel in Beirut, Lebanon. A total of 140 people from five countries (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Iraq) attended the meeting.

The meeting was hosted by OGERO, in partnership with Data Consult and American University of Beirut (AUB).

RIPE NCC Managing Director Axel Pawlik welcomed attendees to the meeting and said this was the first meeting of its kind that the RIPE NCC had run in Beirut, following a successful IPv6 event that was held in the previous year. He said that the RIPE NCC had seen a massive growth in new members in Lebanon over the previous year and explained the reasoning behind the RIPE NCC's office in Dubai, which opened in 2013 and was there to provide a focus point for members in the region and to help to build the Internet community in the Middle East.

Dr. Abdul Menhem Youssef, Chairman and CEO of OGERO, said the event was important to the Internet community in Lebanon and he was grateful to the American University of Beirut for its support in hosting the IPv6 training and RIPE Academic Day that would follow the meeting. He noted that OGERO had a relationship with RIPE that went back at least 20 years. He said that OGERO had signed an agreement with ICANN related to the top-level .arab domain and they were currently planning the implementation of this. He highlighted that the Internet community in Lebanon was closely watching the IANA stewardship transition discussions, particularly concerning the distribution of IP addresses.

Dr. Youssef finished by saying that after close dialogue between OGERO, the Lebanese Telecommunications Ministry and the RIPE NCC, OGERO was now committed to deploying IPv6 by the end of 2016.

Axel said this was wonderful news and wished OGERO all the best. He said the RIPE NCC would be available to support OGERO throughout the process.

Paul Rendek gave an update from the RIPE NCC. In response to an audience question regarding how many large RIPE NCC members there were in the Middle East, Paul explained that the RIPE NCC didn't distinguish between the size of its members. However, he noted that increasingly they were seeing different types of organisations becoming members of the RIPE NCC – such as manufacturers and the financial sector. He gave an overview of the RIPE NCC's work in the Internet governance sphere, and explained that while the RIPE NCC had worked for ten years to get Internet number resources off the agenda of politicians and legislators, there would soon be new topics being discussed, such as the Internet of Things, security and privacy. He hoped the technical community would take part in these discussions.

Matt Parker from the RIPE NCC gave a presentation on requesting and managing IP addresses. Regarding IPv6 measurement statistics, an audience member noted that there was one less Lebanese LIR with four-star RIPEness than there had been previously. Matt explained that this was likely due to an LIR had been experimenting with IPv6 but had not gone on to full deployment, and so had stopped announcing it in BGP to minimise a potential security risk.

Another audience member asked whether a network was eligible to receive a /22 even if it already had a /21 or more. Matt said that the policy allowed each LIR to request one single /22, regardless of how many addresses it held.

An audience member asked whether the slow transition to IPv6 was due to technical limitations or if this was primarily about business concerns. Matt replied that he thought it was both. He said there was a certain reluctance from some organisations who might feel that they had enough resources to last them for the future. However, he said in the last two or three years they had seen a significant shift in the way businesses saw IPv6 and they were seeing more work being done on deployment.

The same audience member also asked about latency with IPv6 and content. Nathalie Trenaman, RIPE NCC IPv6 Programme Manager, said that for a long time this had been an issue with the A-record or a AAAA-record and which came back first. She said this had been fixed by the implementation of the Happy Eyeballs principle in browsers. She added that CloudFlare, which hosted much of the content, was currently deploying IPv6, and so this had changed a lot in recent months.

Next up, Dr. Mohamad Firas Bakour, Secretary General of ARISPA, presented on the run-out of IPv4 in the region. He said that the world would have five billion Internet users by 2020, and therefore the time to deploy IPv6 was now. He said that both ARISPA and the RIPE NCC were available to help networks with their transition.

Hisham Ibrahim from the RIPE NCC presented some regional IPv6 statistics that compared the Middle East to Europe. He said that while attendees might have been hearing about IPv6 for over a decade, a lot had changed in the last three years.

In response to a question from an audience member, Hisham explained that there were measures that could extend the lifespan of IPv4, but at the end of the day, all you were doing was buying yourself more time. He gave the example of a network in the Middle East that wanted to host a RIPE Atlas anchor, but was unable to provide IPv6 connectivity for this (one of the requirements), so was asking the RIPE NCC for an IPv4-only option. He contrasted this with networks in Europe that were asking for an IPv6-only version. For them, IPv4 was an overhead. He said they expected to see more of this in the future.

Khalid Samara, MENOG Programme Committee Chair, then presented on the state of the Internet in Jordan – running through some key statistics such as Internet penetration rates and giving an overview of the future.

Johan ter Beest presented on the RIPE Atlas network. He said they wanted to get more probes into the Levant region because the few probes they had currently were often overloaded with measurements, as it was an interesting region to measure. He showed a few measurements he had made using the network, which showed that Lebanese traffic remained within Lebanon, which indicated that networks within the country had their routing set up correctly. However, when taking measurements against a ring node server in Jordan, he found that traffic destined for Jordan went via Europe – which indicated issues with their cross-border routing. He added that with an Internet exchange point they would see less of this routing behaviour.

Marc Nader from Data Consult presented on the Internet of Things (IoT). As an example of an IoT implementation, he talked about a garbage collection company that used sensors to optimise its collection routes – bypassing bins that were empty. He said there was a struggle going on between different standards in the IoT world and explained some of the features of the competing standards. He talked about the transition from the Cloud to what he called “Mist” computing – which was all about pushing intelligence to the edge in an effort to reduce latency issues.

Mohamad Amin Hasbini, Kaspersky Lab, presented on Advanced Specific Threats (APTs) in the Middle East region. He talked about his work investigating the people behind the Carbanak attack, which was used to steal millions of dollars from banks. He also talked about the latest Turla attack, as well as Volatile Cedar, which was an attack perpetuated from within Lebanon.

An audience member said he wanted to take this as an opportunity to address the room. He said that securing yourself while you were on the Internet was important. This included securing every web page, and using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). He said you needed an electronic signature installed on emails and needed to have your email domain name authenticated.

Johan ter Beest then gave a brief presentation on the RIPE NCC's DNS services, explaining that the RIPE NCC ran K-root, one of the 13 root servers globally.

Dr. Yousif Asfour from the American University of Beirut presented on their IT Transformation and the changing role of NRENs. He talked about their shift as an IT department towards a more consultative approach, integrating their services into the operations of the university.

Nathalie Trenaman, RIPE NCC, outlined the various remote participation options for participating in RIPE Meetings and voting in RIPE NCC General Meetings. She also talked about the RIPE NCC Academy initiative, which allows people to undertake training online to receive a certificate of their skills.

In the closing ceremony, Dr. Toufic Chebaro from OGERO said it was a pleasure to work with the RIPE NCC and thanked the presenters for their contributions. He noted that OGERO hadn't participated much in Internet discussions outside of Lebanon and said they would try to improve this in the future.

Paul Rendek from the RIPE NCC said they would all be watching OGERO with great interest as it worked on its IPv6 deployment and added that the RIPE NCC had IPv6 specialists who would be glad to offer their support to OGERO, which was one of their oldest members. He added they had held the meeting in Beirut because the community had asked them to, and said this was how it worked – the more pressure members applied, the more support they would get from the RIPE NCC.

The meeting presentations were given in English and on-site translation facilities were provided to attendees. All presentations given at the meeting are available in the archive.

Other Events

Three separate RIPE NCC-organised events also took place in Beirut around the meeting.

On 25 April, an information-sharing session on online threats was held with RIPE NCC members from the Lebanese financial sector.

A three-day IPv6 Roadshow was held at AUB from 26-28 April. The fully-booked workshop provided an opportunity to provide IPv6 training to members in Syria and Iraq that the RIPE NCC wouldn't ordinarily be able to reach.

An Academic Day was held at AUB on 27 April. The goal of the day was to educate academics on how the Internet works – both technically, and from a global governance perspective. The event was attended by 18 students from communications, electrical engineering and computer science backgrounds. The day was part of the RIPE NCC's efforts to forge closer ties between the academic and technical communities.