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Versions: (draft-gont-tcpm-rfc1948bis) 00 01 02 RFC 6528

TCP Maintenance and Minor Extensions                             F. Gont
(tcpm)                                                           UTN/FRH
Internet-Draft                                               S. Bellovin
Obsoletes: 1948 (if approved)                        Columbia University
Updates: 793 (if approved)                                April 23, 2011
Intended status: Standards Track
Expires: October 25, 2011


               Defending Against Sequence Number Attacks
                   draft-ietf-tcpm-rfc1948bis-00.txt

Abstract

   This document specifies an algorithm for the generation of TCP
   Initial Sequence Numbers (ISNs), such that the chances of an off-path
   attacker of guessing the sequence numbers in use by a target
   connection are reduced.  This document is a revision of RFC 1948, and
   takes the ISN generation algorithm originally proposed in that
   document to Standards Track.

Status of this Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the
   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF).  Note that other groups may also distribute
   working documents as Internet-Drafts.  The list of current Internet-
   Drafts is at http://datatracker.ietf.org/drafts/current/.

   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
   and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
   time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference
   material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

   This Internet-Draft will expire on October 25, 2011.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2011 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
   (http://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect



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   to this document.  Code Components extracted from this document must
   include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of
   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
   described in the Simplified BSD License.


Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   2.  Generation of Initial Sequence Numbers . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   3.  Proposed Initial Sequence Number (ISN) generation algorithm  .  4
   4.  Security Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
   5.  IANA Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
   6.  Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
   7.  References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
     7.1.  Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
     7.2.  Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
   Appendix A.  Address-based trust relationship exploitation
                attacks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
     A.1.  Blind TCP connection-spoofing  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
   Appendix B.  Changes from RFC 1948 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
   Appendix C.  Changes from previous versions of the document
                (this section should be removed by the RFC Editor
                before publication of this document as an RFC)  . . . 11
     C.1.  Changes from draft-gont-tcpm-rfc1948bis-00 . . . . . . . . 11
     C.2.  Changes from RFC 1948  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
   Authors' Addresses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
























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1.  Introduction

   During the last 25 years, the Internet has experienced a number of
   off-path attacks against TCP connections.  These attacks have ranged
   from trust relationships exploitation to Denial of Service attacks
   [CPNI-TCP].  Discusion of some of these attacks dates back to at
   least 1985, when Morris [Morris1985] described a form of attack based
   on guessing what sequence numbers TCP [RFC0793] will use for new
   connections.

   In 1996, RFC 1948 [RFC1948] proposed an algorithm for the selection
   of TCP Initial Sequence Numbers (ISNs), such that the chances of an
   off-path attacker of guessing valid sequence numbers are reduced.
   With the aforementioned algorithm, such attacks would remain possible
   if and only if the Bad Guy already had the ability to launch even
   more devastating attacks.

   This document is a revision of RFC 1948, and takes the ISN generation
   algorithm originally proposed in that document to Standards Track.

   Section 2 provides a brief discussion of the requirements for a good
   ISN generation algorithm.  Section 3 specifies a good ISN
   randomization algorithm.  Finally, Appendix A provides a discussion
   of the trust-relationship exploitation attacks that originally
   motivated the publication of RFC 1948 [RFC1948].

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this
   document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119 [RFC2119].


2.  Generation of Initial Sequence Numbers

   RFC 793 [RFC0793] suggests that the choice of the Initial Sequence
   Number of a connection is not arbitrary, but aims to reduce the
   chances of a stale segment from being accepted by a new incarnation
   of a previous connection.  RFC 793 [RFC0793] suggests the use of a
   global 32-bit ISN generator that is incremented by 1 roughly every 4
   microseconds.

   It is interesting to note that, as a matter of fact, protection
   against stale segments from a previous incarnation of the connection
   is enforced by preventing the creation of a new incarnation of a
   previous connection before 2*MSL have passed since a segment
   corresponding to the old incarnation was last seen.  This is
   accomplished by the TIME-WAIT state, and TCP's "quiet time" concept
   (see Appendix B of [RFC1323]).




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   Based on the assumption that ISNs are monotonically-increasing across
   connections, many stacks (e.g., 4.2BSD-derived) use the ISN of an
   incomming SYN segment to perform "heuristics" that enable the
   creation of a new incarnation of a connection while the previous
   incarnation is still in the TIME-WAIT state (see pp. 945 of
   [Wright1994]).  This avoids an interoperability problem that may
   arise when a systems establishes connections to a specific TCP end-
   point at a high rate [Silbersack2005].

   Unfortunately, the ISN generator described in [RFC0793] makes it
   trivial for an off-path attacker to predict the ISN that a TCP will
   use for new connections, thus allowing a variety of attacks against
   TCP connections [CPNI-TCP].  One of the possible attacks that takes
   advantage of weak sequence numbers was first described in
   [Morris1985], and its exploitation was widely publicized about 10
   years later [Shimomura1995].  [CERT2001] and [USCERT2001] are
   advisories about the security implications of weak ISN generators.
   [Zalewski2001] and [Zalewski2002] contain a detailed analysis of ISN
   generators, and a survey of the algorithms in use by popular TCP
   implementations.

   Simple randomization of the TCP Initial Sequence Numbers would
   mitigate those attacks that require an attacker to guess valid
   sequence numbers.  However, it would also break the 4.4BSD
   "heuristics" to accept a new incoming connection when there is a
   previous incarnation of that connection in the TIME-WAIT state
   [Silbersack2005].

   We can prevent sequence number guessing attacks by giving each
   connection -- that is, each 4-tuple of (localip, localport, remoteip,
   remoteport) -- a separate sequence number space.  Within each space,
   the initial sequence number is incremented according to [RFC0793];
   however, there is no obvious relationship between the numbering in
   different spaces.

   The obvious way to do this is to maintain state for dead connections,
   and the easiest way to do that is to change the TCP state transition
   diagram so that both ends of all connections go to TIME-WAIT state.
   That would work, but it's inelegant and consumes storage space.
   Instead, we propose an improvement to the TCP ISN generation
   algorithm.


3.  Proposed Initial Sequence Number (ISN) generation algorithm

   TCP SHOULD generate its Initial Sequence Numbers with the expression:





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           ISN = M + F(localip, localport, remoteip, remoteport)

   where M is the 4 microsecond timer, and F is a pseudorandom function
   (PRF) of the connection-id.  It is vital that F not be computable
   from the outside, or an attacker could still guess at sequence
   numbers from the initial sequence number used for some other
   connection.  The PRF could be implemented as a cryptographic hash of
   the concatenation of the connection-id and some secret data; MD5
   [RFC1321] would be a good choice for the hash function.  The secret
   data can either be a true random number [RFC4086], or it can be the
   combination of some per-host secret and the boot time of the machine.
   The boot time is included to ensure that the secret is changed on
   occasion.

   Note that the secret cannot easily be changed on a live machine.
   Doing so would change the initial sequence numbers used for
   reincarnated connections; to maintain safety, either dead connection
   state must be kept or a quiet time observed for two maximum segment
   lifetimes after such a change.

   It should be noted that while there have been concerns about the
   security properties of MD5 [RFC6151], the algorithm specified in this
   document simply aims at reducing the chances of an off-path attacker
   of guessing the ISN of a new connection, and hence we consider that
   use of MD5 in the specified algorithm is acceptable.


4.  Security Considerations

   Good sequence numbers are not a replacement for cryptographic
   authentication, such as that provided by IPsec [RFC4301] or TCP-AO
   [RFC5925].  At best, they're a palliative measure.

   If random numbers are used as the sole source of the secret, they
   MUST be chosen in accordance with the recommendations given in
   [RFC4086].

   A security consideration that should be made about the algorithm
   proposed in this document is that it might allow an attacker to count
   the number of systems behind a Network Address Translator (NAT)
   [RFC3022].  Depending on the ISN generators implemented by each of
   the systems behind the NAT, an attacker might be able to count the
   number of systems behind a NAT by establishing a number of TCP
   connections (using the public address of the NAT) and indentifying
   the number of different sequence number "spaces".
   [I-D.gont-behave-nat-security] discusses how this and other
   information leakages at NATs could be mitigated.




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   An eavesdropper who can observe the initial messages for a connection
   can determine its sequence number state, and may still be able to
   launch sequence number guessing attacks by impersonating that
   connection.  However, such an eavesdropper can also hijack existing
   connections [Joncheray1995], so the incremental threat isn't that
   high.  Still, since the offset between a fake connection and a given
   real connection will be more or less constant for the lifetime of the
   secret, it is important to ensure that attackers can never capture
   such packets.  Typical attacks that could disclose them include both
   eavesdropping and the variety of routing attacks discussed in
   [Bellovin1989].

   [CPNI-TCP] contains a discussion of all the currently-known attacks
   that require an attacker to know or be able to guess the TCP sequence
   numbers in use by the target connection.


5.  IANA Considerations

   This document has no actions for IANA.


6.  Acknowledgements

   Matt Blaze and Jim Ellis contributed some crucial ideas to RFC 1948,
   on which this document is based.  Frank Kastenholz contributed
   constructive comments to that memo.

   The authors of this document woul like to thank (in chronological
   order) Alfred Hoenes, Lloyd Wood, Lars Eggert, Joe Touch, William
   Allen Simpson, and Tim Shepard, for providing valuable comments on
   earlier versions of this document.

   Fernando Gont would like to thank the United Kingdom's Centre for the
   Protection of National Infrastructure (UK CPNI) for their continued
   support.


7.  References

7.1.  Normative References

   [RFC0793]  Postel, J., "Transmission Control Protocol", STD 7,
              RFC 793, September 1981.

   [RFC1321]  Rivest, R., "The MD5 Message-Digest Algorithm", RFC 1321,
              April 1992.




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   [RFC1323]  Jacobson, V., Braden, B., and D. Borman, "TCP Extensions
              for High Performance", RFC 1323, May 1992.

   [RFC2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.

   [RFC4086]  Eastlake, D., Schiller, J., and S. Crocker, "Randomness
              Requirements for Security", BCP 106, RFC 4086, June 2005.

7.2.  Informative References

   [Bellovin1989]
              Morris, R., "Security Problems in the TCP/IP Protocol
              Suite", Computer Communications Review, vol. 19, no. 2,
              pp. 32-48, 1989.

   [CERT2001]
              CERT, "CERT Advisory CA-2001-09: Statistical Weaknesses in
              TCP/IP Initial Sequence Numbers",
               http://www.cert.org/advisories/CA-2001-09.html, 2001.

   [CPNI-TCP]
              CPNI, "Security Assessment of the Transmission Control
              Protocol (TCP)",  http://www.cpni.gov.uk/Docs/
              tn-03-09-security-assessment-TCP.pdf, 2009.

   [I-D.gont-behave-nat-security]
              Gont, F. and P. Srisuresh, "Security implications of
              Network Address Translators (NATs)",
              draft-gont-behave-nat-security-03 (work in progress),
              October 2009.

   [Joncheray1995]
              Joncheray, L., "A Simple Active Attack Against TCP", Proc.
              Fifth Usenix UNIX Security Symposium, 1995.

   [Morris1985]
              Morris, R., "A Weakness in the 4.2BSD UNIX TCP/IP
              Software",  CSTR 117, AT&T Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill,
              NJ, 1985.

   [RFC0854]  Postel, J. and J. Reynolds, "Telnet Protocol
              Specification", STD 8, RFC 854, May 1983.

   [RFC1034]  Mockapetris, P., "Domain names - concepts and facilities",
              STD 13, RFC 1034, November 1987.

   [RFC1948]  Bellovin, S., "Defending Against Sequence Number Attacks",



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              RFC 1948, May 1996.

   [RFC3022]  Srisuresh, P. and K. Egevang, "Traditional IP Network
              Address Translator (Traditional NAT)", RFC 3022,
              January 2001.

   [RFC4120]  Neuman, C., Yu, T., Hartman, S., and K. Raeburn, "The
              Kerberos Network Authentication Service (V5)", RFC 4120,
              July 2005.

   [RFC4251]  Ylonen, T. and C. Lonvick, "The Secure Shell (SSH)
              Protocol Architecture", RFC 4251, January 2006.

   [RFC4301]  Kent, S. and K. Seo, "Security Architecture for the
              Internet Protocol", RFC 4301, December 2005.

   [RFC4954]  Siemborski, R. and A. Melnikov, "SMTP Service Extension
              for Authentication", RFC 4954, July 2007.

   [RFC5321]  Klensin, J., "Simple Mail Transfer Protocol", RFC 5321,
              October 2008.

   [RFC5925]  Touch, J., Mankin, A., and R. Bonica, "The TCP
              Authentication Option", RFC 5925, June 2010.

   [RFC5936]  Lewis, E. and A. Hoenes, "DNS Zone Transfer Protocol
              (AXFR)", RFC 5936, June 2010.

   [RFC6151]  Turner, S. and L. Chen, "Updated Security Considerations
              for the MD5 Message-Digest and the HMAC-MD5 Algorithms",
              RFC 6151, March 2011.

   [Shimomura1995]
              Shimomura, T., "Technical details of the attack described
              by Markoff in NYT",
               http://www.gont.com.ar/docs/post-shimomura-usenet.txt,
              Message posted in USENET's comp.security.misc newsgroup,
              Message-ID: <3g5gkl$5j1@ariel.sdsc.edu&gt, 1995.

   [Silbersack2005]
              Silbersack, M., "Improving TCP/IP security through
              randomization without sacrificing interoperability.",
              EuroBSDCon 2005 Conference .

   [USCERT2001]
              US-CERT, "US-CERT Vulnerability Note VU#498440: Multiple
              TCP/IP implementations may use statistically predictable
              initial sequence numbers",



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               http://www.kb.cert.org/vuls/id/498440, 2001.

   [Wright1994]
              Wright, G. and W. Stevens, "TCP/IP Illustrated, Volume 2:
              The Implementation", Addison-Wesley, 1994.

   [Zalewski2001]
              Zalewski, M., "Strange Attractors and TCP/IP Sequence
              Number Analysis",
               http://lcamtuf.coredump.cx/oldtcp/tcpseq.html, 2001.

   [Zalewski2002]
              Zalewski, M., "Strange Attractors and TCP/IP Sequence
              Number Analysis - One Year Later",
               http://lcamtuf.coredump.cx/newtcp/, 2002.


Appendix A.  Address-based trust relationship exploitation attacks

   This section discusses the trust-relationship exploitation attack
   that originally motivated the publication of RFC 1948 [RFC1948].  It
   should be noted that while RFC 1948 focused its discussion of
   address-based trust relationship exploitation attacks on Telnet
   [RFC0854] and the various UNIX "r" commands, both Telnet and the
   various "r" commands have since been largely replaced by secure
   counter-parts (such as SSH [RFC4251]) for the purpose of remote login
   and remote command execution.  Nevertheless, address-based trust
   relationships are still employed nowadays in some scenarios.  For
   example, some SMTP [RFC5321] deployments still authenticate their
   users by means of their IP addresses, even when more appropriate
   authentication mechanisms are available [RFC4954].  Another example
   is the authentication of DNS secondary servers [RFC1034] by means of
   their IP addresses for allowing DNS zone transfers [RFC5936], or any
   other access control mechanism based on IP addresses.

   In 1985, Morris [Morris1985] described a form of attack based on
   guessing what sequence numbers TCP [RFC0793] will use for new
   connections.  Briefly, the attacker gags a host trusted by the
   target, impersonates the IP address of the trusted host when talking
   to the target, and completes the 3-way handshake based on its guess
   at the next initial sequence number to be used.  An ordinary
   connection to the target is used to gather sequence number state
   information.  This entire sequence, coupled with address-based
   authentication, allows the attacker to execute commands on the target
   host.

   Clearly, the proper solution for these attacks is cryptographic
   authentication [RFC4301] [RFC4120] [RFC4251].



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   The following subsection provides technical details for the trust
   relationship exploitation attack described by Morris [Morris1985].

A.1.  Blind TCP connection-spoofing

   In order to understand the particular case of sequence number
   guessing, one must look at the 3-way handshake used in the TCP open
   sequence [RFC0793].  Suppose client machine A wants to talk to rsh
   server B. It sends the following message:

                              A->B: SYN, ISNa

   That is, it sends a packet with the SYN ("synchronize sequence
   number") bit set and an initial sequence number ISNa.

   B replies with

                         B->A: SYN, ISNb, ACK(ISNa)

   In addition to sending its own initial sequence number, it
   acknowledges A's.  Note that the actual numeric value ISNa must
   appear in the message.

   A concludes the handshake by sending

                              A->B: ACK(ISNb)

   RFC 793 [RFC0793] specifies that the 32-bit counter be incremented by
   1 in the low-order position about every 4 microseconds.  Instead,
   Berkeley-derived kernels traditionally incremented it by a constant
   every second, and by another constant for each new connection.  Thus,
   if you opened a connection to a machine, you knew to a very high
   degree of confidence what sequence number it would use for its next
   connection.  And therein lied the vulnerability.

   The attacker X first opens a real connection to its target B -- say,
   to the mail port or the TCP echo port.  This gives ISNb.  It then
   impersonates A and sends

                              Ax->B: SYN, ISNx

   where "Ax" denotes a packet sent by X pretending to be A.

   B's response to X's original SYN (so to speak)

                        B->A: SYN, ISNb', ACK(ISNx)

   goes to the legitimate A, about which more anon.  X never sees that



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   message but can still send

                             Ax->B: ACK(ISNb')

   using the predicted value for ISNb'.  If the guess is right -- and
   usually it will be, if the sequence numbers are weak -- B's rsh
   server thinks it has a legitimate connection with A, when in fact X
   is sending the packets.  X can't see the output from this session,
   but it can execute commands as more or less any user -- and in that
   case, the game is over and X has won.

   There is a minor difficulty here.  If A sees B's message, it will
   realize that B is acknowledging something it never sent, and will
   send a RST packet in response to tear down the connection.  However,
   an attacker could send the TCP segments containing the commands to be
   executed back-to-back with the segments required to establish the TCP
   connection, and thus by the time the connection is reset, the
   attacker has already won.

      In the past, attackers exploited a common TCP implementation bug
      to prevent the connection from being reset (see subsection "A
      Common TCP Bug" in [RFC1948]).  However, all TCP implementations
      that used to implement this bug have been fixed for a long time.


Appendix B.  Changes from RFC 1948

   o  This document aims at Standards Track (rather than Informaitonal).

   o  Formal requirements ([RFC2119]) are specified.

   o  The discussion of address-based trust relationship attacks has
      been updated and moved to an Appendix.

   o  The subsection entitled "A Common TCP Bug" (describing a common
      bug in the BSD TCP implementation) has been removed.


Appendix C.  Changes from previous versions of the document (this
             section should be removed by the RFC Editor before
             publication of this document as an RFC)

C.1.  Changes from draft-gont-tcpm-rfc1948bis-00

   o  The recommended hash algorithm has been changed back to MD5
      [RFC1321], with a note that the security implications of MD5 have
      been carefully considered.




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   o  The subsection entitled "An old BSD bug" (describing a common bug
      in the BSD TCP implementation) has been removed.

   o  Minor editorial changes.

C.2.  Changes from RFC 1948

   o  New document aims at Standards Track (rather than Informaitonal).

   o  The discussion of address-based trust relationship attacks was
      updated and moved to an Appendix.

   o  The recommended hash algorithm has been changed to SHA-256, in
      response to the security concerns for MD5 [RFC1321].

   o  Formal requirements ([RFC2119]) are specified.


Authors' Addresses

   Fernando Gont
   Universidad Tecnologica Nacional / Facultad Regional Haedo
   Evaristo Carriego 2644
   Haedo, Provincia de Buenos Aires  1706
   Argentina

   Phone: +54 11 4650 8472
   Email: fernando@gont.com.ar
   URI:   http://www.gont.com.ar


   Steven M. Bellovin
   Columbia University
   1214 Amsterdam Avenue
   MC 0401
   New York, NY  10027
   US

   Phone: +1 212 939 7149
   Email: bellovin@acm.org











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