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IPv4 Legacy assignment frustration

Spurling, Shannon <shannon at more.net> wrote:

> It?s a problem with the miss-use of the RIR delegation of a legacy
> block.
> The assumption that because a block is assigned to a particular RIR, all
> users in that block have to be in that RIR?s territory, without actually
> running a query against that RIR?s Whois database.

Actually, a simple whois query often isn't enough to solve this problem.
Neither RIPE nor APNIC do proper whois referrals for IPv4 addresses that
are registered in other RIRs. ARIN, however, does.

(However, if the geoip people are using whois data, I can't believe they
aren't handling cases like this properly, because it's blatantly obvious
if you scan IPv4 address space for referrals.)

If you use FreeBSD-CURRENT's whois client, it tries to work mostly by
following referrals, rather than using a built-in database mapping query
strings to whois servers. If you query for (for example) you
get the following (which I have brutally trimmed for length):

% IANA WHOIS server

refer:        whois.apnic.net

inetnum: -
organisation: Administered by APNIC
status:       LEGACY

% [whois.apnic.net]

inetnum: -
netname:        ERX-NETBLOCK
descr:          Early registration addresses

remarks:        Address ranges from this historical space have now
remarks:        been transferred to the appropriate RIR database.remarks:
remarks:        If your search has returned this record, it means the
remarks:        address range is not administered by APNIC.
remarks:        Instead, please search one of the following databases:

(It then unhelpfully lists all the other RIRs.)

FreeBSD's whois client spots this failure then retries the query at ARIN.

There's a similar problem with RIPE, for instance if you query for

% IANA WHOIS server

refer:        whois.ripe.net

inetnum: -
organisation: Administered by RIPE NCC
status:       LEGACY

% This is the RIPE Database query service.

inetnum: -
descr:          IPv4 address block not managed by the RIPE NCC

remarks:        You can find the whois server to query, or the
remarks:        IANA registry to query on this web page:
remarks:        http://www.iana.org/assignments/ipv4-address-space
remarks:        You can access databases of other RIRs at:

(It then unhelpfully lists all the other RIRs.)

Actually RIPE is even worse than APNIC because it implicitly has a
referral loop between IANA and RIPE.


The APNIC and RIPE databases do in fact contain the referral information -
you can get it via RDAP but not whois. Repeating the examples,

$ curl -i https://rdap.apnic.net/ip/
HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently
Location: https://rdap.arin.net/registry/ip/

$ curl -i https://rdap.db.ripe.net/ip/
HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently
Location: https://rdap.arin.net/registry/ip/

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