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INTERNET-DRAFT                                             Erik Nordmark
Oct 27, 2003                                            Sun Microsystems

                    Multihoming without IP Identifiers


   Status of this Memo

   This document is an Internet-Draft and is subject to all provisions
   of Section 10 of RFC2026.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF), its areas, and its working groups.  Note that
   other groups may also distribute working documents as Internet-

   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."

   The list of current Internet-Drafts can be accessed at

   The list of Internet-Draft Shadow Directories can be accessed at

   This Internet Draft expires April 27, 2004.


   This document outlines a potential solution to IPv6 multihoming in
   order to stimulate discussion.

   This proposed solution relies on verification using the existing DNS
   to prevent redirection attacks, while allowing locator rewriting by
   (border) routers, with no per-packet overhead.  The solution does not
   introduce a "stack name" type of identifier, instead it ensures that
   all upper layer protocols can operate unmodified in a multihomed
   setting while still seeing a stable IPv6 address.

   DISCLAIMER: This work has been discussed extensively in a design
   team.  The design team is still exploring multiple approaches and

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   this is an attempt to capture one such approach on paper.  Because of
   this and due to lack of time to review the document one can not say
   that this is a product of the DT; errors and confusions should be
   attributed to the scribe and not to the DT.

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      1.  INTRODUCTION.............................................    4
         1.1.  Non-Goals...........................................    4
         1.2.  Assumptions.........................................    5

      2.  TERMINOLOGY..............................................    5
         2.1.  Notational Conventions..............................    6

      3.  PROTOCOL OVERVIEW........................................    6
         3.1.  Host-Pair Context...................................   10
         3.2.  Message Formats.....................................   11

      4.  PROTOCOL WALKTHROUGH.....................................   13
         4.1.  Initial Context Establishment.......................   13
         4.2.  Locator Change......................................   15
         4.3.  Handling Locator Failures...........................   16
         4.4.  Locator Set Changes.................................   17
         4.5.  Preventing Premeditated Redirection Attacks.........   17

      5.  HANDLING STATE LOSS......................................   18

      6.  ENCODING BITS IN THE IPv6 HEADER?........................   19

      7.  COMPATIBILITY WITH STANDARD IPv6.........................   21

      8.  APPLICATION USAGE OF IDENTIFIERS.........................   21

      9.  CHECKSUM ISSUES..........................................   22

      10.  IMPLICATIONS FOR PACKET FILTERING.......................   23

      11.  IPSEC INTERACTIONS......................................   23

      12.  SECURITY CONSIDERATIONS.................................   24

      13.  DESIGN ALTERNATIVES.....................................   24

      14.  OPEN ISSUES.............................................   24
         14.1.  Handling Hosts without a FQDN......................   25
         14.2.  Locator Set Inconsistencies........................   25
         14.3.  Renumbering Considerations.........................   26
         14.4.  Initiator Confusion vs. "Virtual Hosting"..........   26

      15.  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS........................................   27

      16.  REFERENCES..............................................   27
         16.1.  Normative References...............................   27

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         16.2.  Informative References.............................   28


   The goal of the IPv6 multihoming work is to allow a site to take
   advantage of multiple attachments to the global Internet without
   having a specific entry for the site visible in the global routing
   table.  Specifically, a solution should allow users to use multiple
   attachments in parallel, or to switch between these attachment points
   dynamically in the case of failures, without an impact on the upper
   layer protocols.

   This proposed solution uses existing DNS mechanisms to perform enough
   validation to prevent redirection attacks.

   The goals for this proposed solution is to:

    o Have no impact on upper layer protocols in general and on
      transport protocols in particular.

    o Address the security threats in [M6SEC].

    o Allow routers rewriting the (source) locators as a means of
      quickly detecting which locator is likely to work for return

    o No per-packet overhead.

    o No extra roundtrip for setup.

    o Take advantage of multiple locators/addresses for load spreading.

1.1.  Non-Goals

   The assumption is that the problem we are trying to solve is site
   multihoming, with the ability to have the set of site locator
   prefixes change over time due to site renumbering.  Further, we
   assume that such changes to the set of locator prefixes can be
   relatively slow and managed; slow enough to allow updates to the DNS
   to propagate.  This proposal does not attempt to solve, perhaps
   related, problems such as host multihoming or host mobility.

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   This proposal also does not try to provide an IP identifier.  Even
   though such a concept would be useful to ULPs and applications,
   especially if the management burden for such a name space was zero
   and there was an efficient yet secure mechanism to map from
   identifiers to locators, such a name space isn't necessary (and
   furthermore doesn't seem to help) when using the DNS to verify the
   locator relationships.

1.2.  Assumptions

   The main technical assumptions this proposal makes is that the DNS
   infrastructure can be used for verification of the relationship
   between locators on both the initiator of communication and the
   responding peer.  In particular, it assumes that getting DNS reverse
   maps (ip6.arpa) populated for the hosts that wish to take advantage
   of multihoming will not be a significant problem.


      upper layer protocol (ULP)
                  - a protocol layer immediately above IP.  Examples are
                    transport protocols such as TCP and UDP, control
                    protocols such as ICMP, routing protocols such as
                    OSPF, and internet or lower-layer protocols being
                    "tunneled" over (i.e., encapsulated in) IP such as
                    IPX, AppleTalk, or IP itself.

      interface   - a node's attachment to a link.

      address     - an IP layer name that contains both topological
                    significance and acts as a unique identifier for an
                    interface.  128 bits.

      locator     - an IP layer topological name for an interface or a
                    set of interfaces.  128 bits.  The locators are
                    carried in the IP address fields as the packets
                    traverse the network.

      identifier  - an IP layer identifier for an IP layer endpoint
                    (stack name in [NSRG]).  The transport endpoint is a
                    function of the transport protocol and would
                    typically include the IP identifier plus a port
                    number.  NOTE: This proposal does not contain any IP
                    layer identifiers.

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      Application identifier (AID)
                  - an IP locator which has been selected for
                    communication with a peer to be used by the upper
                    layer protocol.  128 bits.  This is used for
                    pseudo-header checksum computation and connection
                    identification in the ULP.  Different sets of
                    communication to a host (e.g., different
                    connections) might use different AIDs in order to
                    enable load spreading.

      address field
                  - the source and destination address fields in the
                    IPv6 header.  As IPv6 is currently specified this
                    fields carry "addresses".  If identifiers and
                    locators are separated these fields will contain

      FQDN        - Fully Qualified Domain Name

2.1.  Notational Conventions

   A, B, and C are hosts.  X is a potentially malicious host.

   FQDN(A) is the domain name for A.

   Ls(A) is the locator set for A, which consists of L1(A), L2(A), ...

   AID(A) is an application ID for A.  In this proposal, AID(A) is
   always one member of Ls(A).


   In order to prevent redirection attacks this protocol relies on the
   DNS (for the hosts which support this protocol) being maintained with
   consistent forward and reverse maps.  This allows any host, given one
   locator, to determine the corresponding FQDN and the set of locators
   for the host.  Once those lookups have been performed, and the
   original locator is indeed part of the set, the host can happily
   allow any of those locators without being subject to redirection

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   attacks.  Keeping the FQDN around allows the solution to handle
   graceful renumbering by being able to redo the DNS lookups (e.g.,
   based on the TTL on the resource records).

   DNS is also used to provide an indication of multihoming capability
   of a host.  The details of this is TBD but a simple example would be
   to introduce a new M6 RR type in the DNS which has no RDATA; thus the
   mere existence of such a record at a FQDN would imply that the host
   supports the M6 protocol.

                            | Transport Protocols |

             ------ ------- -------------- -------------
             | AH | | ESP | | Frag/reass | | Dest opts |
             ------ ------- -------------- -------------

                            | M6 shim layer |

                                | IP |

   Figure 1: Protocol stack

   The proposal uses an M6 shim layer between IP and the ULPs as shown
   in figure 1, in order to provide ULP independence.  Conceptually the
   M6 shim layer behaves as if it is an extension header, which would be
   ordered immediately after any hop-by-hop options in the packet.
   However, the amount of data that needs to be carried in an actual M6
   extension header is close to zero.  By using some encoding of the
   nexthdr value it is possible to carry the common protocols/extension
   headers without making the packets larger.  The nexthdr encodings are
   discussed later in this document.  We refer to packets that use this
   encoding to indicate to the receiver that M6 processing should be
   applied as "M6 packets" (analogous to "ESP packets" or "TCP

   Layering AH and ESP above the M6 shim means that IPsec can be made to
   be unaware of locator changes the same way that transport protocols
   can be unaware.  Thus the IPsec security associations remain stable
   even though the locators are changing.  Layering the fragmentation
   header above the M6 shim makes reassembly robust in the case that
   there is broken multi-path routing which results in using different
   paths, hence potentially different source locators, for different

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   The proposal uses router rewriting of (source) locators as one way to
   determine which is the preferred (or only working) locator to use for
   return traffic.  But not all packets can have their locators
   rewritten.  In addition to existing IPv6 packets, the packets
   exchanged before M6 host-pair context state is established at the
   receiver can not have their locators rewritten.  Thus a simple
   mechanism is needed to indicate to the routers on the path whether or
   not it is ok to rewrite the locators in the packet.  Conceptually
   this is a single bit in the IPv6 header (we call it the "rewrite ok"
   bit) but there is no spare bit available.  Later in the document we
   show how we solve this by allocating a range of next header values to
   denote this semantic bit.

   Applications and upper layer protocols use AIDs which the M6 layer
   will map to/from different locators.  The M6 layer maintains state,
   called host-pair context, in order to perform this mapping.  The
   mapping is performed consistently at the sender and the receiver,
   thus from the perspective of the upper layer protocols packets appear
   to be sent using AIDs from end to end, even though the packets travel
   through the network containing locators in the IP address fields, and
   even though those locators might be rewritten in flight.

      ----------------------           ----------------------
      | Sender A           |           | Receiver B         |
      |                    |           |                    |
      |      ULP           |           |      ULP           |
      |       | src AID(A) |           |       ^            |
      |       | dst AID(B) |           |       | src AID(A) |
      |       v            |           |       | dst AID(B) |
      |       M6           |           |       M6           |
      |       | src L1(A)  |           |       ^            |
      |       | dst L1(B)  |           |       | src L2(A)  |
      |       v            |           |       | dst L1(B)  |
      |       IP           |           |       IP           |
      ----------------------           ----------------------
              |                                ^
              -- cloud with some routers -------
                                          src L2(A) [Rewritten]
                                          dst L1(B)
   Figure 2: Mapping with router rewriting of locators.

   The result of this consistent mapping is that there is no impact on
   the ULPs.  In particular, there is no impact on pseudo-header
   checksums and connection identification.

   Conceptually one could view this approach as if both AIDs and

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   locators being present in every packet, but with a header compression
   mechanism applied that removes the need for the AIDs once the state
   has been established.  As we will see below the flowid will be used
   akin to a "compression tag" i.e., to indicate the correct context to
   use for decompression.

   The need for some "compression tag" is because the desire to allow
   load spreading and handle site renumbering.  Without those desires it
   could have been possible to e.g. designate one fixed locator as the
   AID for a host and storing that in the DNS.  But instead different
   connections between two hosts are allowed to use different AIDs and
   on reception of a M6 packet the correct AIDs must be inserted into
   the IP address fields before passing the packet to the ULP.  The
   flowid serves as a convenient "compression tag" without increasing
   the packet size, and this usage doesn't conflict with other flowid

   In addition to the zero overhead data messages, there are four
   different M6 message types introduced (which could be defined as new
   ICMPv6 messages).  Three types are used to perform a 3-way handshake
   to create state at both endpoints without creating state on the first
   received packet (which would introduce a memory consumption DoS
   attack), and finally a single message type to signal that state has
   been lost.  The four message types are called:

    o Context request message; first message of the 3-way context
      establishment.  Sent by the responder when a data packet arrives
      with no context state.  An ULP packet can be piggybacked on this

    o Context response message; second message of the 3-way context
      establishment.  Sent in response to a context request.  An ULP
      packet can be piggybacked on this message.

    o Context confirm message; third message of the 3-way context
      establishment.  Sent in response to a context response.  An ULP
      packet can be piggybacked on this message.

    o Unknown context message; error which is sent when no state is

   Similar to MAST [MAST] the above exchange can be performed
   asynchronously with data packets flowing between the two hosts; until
   context state has been established at both ends the packets would
   flow without allowing router rewriting of locators and without the
   ability for the hosts to switch locators.

   Once the 3-way state creation exchange has completed there is host-

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   pair context state at both hosts.  At that point in time the
   responder (which didn't use DNS before the setup) can asynchronously
   start retrieving and verifying additional locators using the DNS.
   Once a peer locator has been verified it will be a candidate
   destination locator including the ability to dynamically switch to
   using the last received source locator (that is already verified) as
   the destination locator for return traffic.

3.1.  Host-Pair Context

   The host-pair context is established on the initiator of
   communication based on information learned from the DNS (either by
   starting with a FQDN or with an IP address -> FQDN lookup).  The
   responder will establish some initial state using the context
   creation 3-way handshake and later discover and verify the peer's
   locators using the DNS.

   The context state contains the following information:

    - the peer locator which the ULP uses as ID; AID(peer)

    - the local locator which the ULP uses as ID; AID(local)

    - the set of peer locators; Ls(peer)

    - for each peer locator, a bit whether it has been verified with the
      DNS (by doing reverse + forward lookup)

    - the preferred peer locator - used as destination; Lp(peer)

    - the set of local locators; Ls(local)

    - the preferred local locator - used as source; Lp(local)

    - the flowid used to transmit packets; F(local)

    - the flowid to expect in receive packets; F(peer)

    - the fully qualified domain name for the peer; FQDN(peer)

    - State about peer locators that are in the process of being
      verified in the DNS

   This state is accessed differently in the transmit and receive paths.
   In the transmit path when the ULP passes down a packet the key to the
   context state is the tuple <AID(local), AID(peer)>; this key must

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   identify at most one state record.  In the receive path it is the
   F(peer) plus one of the locators in each of Ls(local) and Ls(peer)
   that are used to identify at most one state record.  Thus the sender
   allocated flowid is part of the key for looking up the context state
   at the receiver.

   These uniqueness requirements imposed by those lookup keys uniquely
   identifying one state record means that one can not create multiple
   records (e.g. with different FQDN or locator sets) that have the same
   AID pair, and the peer must pick a flowid so that host-pair contexts
   which have at least one common members in Ls(local) and in the
   Ls(peer) sets, but with different AID pair, gets a different
   F(local).  The context state at both ends must be consistent for this
   to be completely robust.  One way of ensuring this is to have each
   host perform a periodic DNS lookup of its own FQDN in order to have a
   current Ls(local) that is the same as the Ls(peer) that the peer
   would find in the DNS.

   Note that the flowids could be selected to be finer grain than above;
   for instance having a different flowid for each connection.  Doing so
   requires some efficient data structure organization at the receiver
   to map multiple F(peer) to the same context.

3.2.  Message Formats

   These message formats are largely the same as in [CB128] but the
   context request, response, and confirm are sent in the opposite

   The base M6 header is an ICMPv6 header as follows:

         0                   1                   2                   3
         0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
        |      Type     |    Code       |          Checksum             |
        |                  <code specific fields>                       |

   ICMPv6 Fields:

                     TBD [IANA]

                     8-bit field.  The type of M6 message.  The M6

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                     header carries 4 different types of messages:

                      o Context request message; first message of the
                        3-way context establishment.  An ULP packet can
                        be piggybacked on this message.

                      o Context response message; second message of the
                        3-way context establishment.  An ULP packet can
                        be piggybacked on this message.

                      o Context confirm message; third message of the
                        3-way context establishment.  An ULP packet can
                        be piggybacked on this message.

                      o Unknown context message; error which is sent
                        when no context state found.

      Checksum       The ICMPv6 checksum.

      Future versions of this protocol may define message codes.
      Receivers MUST silently ignore?  Reject?  [TBD] any message code
      they do not recognize.

      This drafts doesn't contain actual message layout for code
      specific part.  However, the content of these messages is
      specified below.

      The Context request message contains:

       - Sender Nonce

       - Sender AID

       - Receiver AID

       - Sender flowid (20 bits)

      The Context response message contains:

       - Receiver Nonce (copied from Sender Nonce in request)

       - Context state consisting of: the two AIDs, the two flowids, and
         the initial locators

       - A timestamp or nonce (for sender's benefit)

       - A hash over the context state and timestamp (to prevent

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      The Context confirm message contains:

       - The context state, timestamp/nonce, and hash copied from the
         context response.

      The Unknown context message contains:

       - The 20-bit flowid from the triggering packet.


4.1.  Initial Context Establishment

      Here is the sequence of events when A starts talking to B:

       1.  A looks up FQDN(B) in the DNS which returns Ls(B) plus "B is
           M6 capable".  One locator is selected to be returned to the
           application: AID(B) = L1(B).  The others are installed in the
           M6 layer on the host with AID(B) being the key to find that

           To make sure that the lookup from AID(B) returns a single
           state record it appears that one needs to do a reverse lookup
           AID(B)->FQDN and check that the result is FQDN(B).  Whether
           this check can be deferred until two entities try to use the
           same AID(B) for a different Ls is for further study.  Always
           doing the reverse lookup would be more predictable in any
           case.  See section 14.4 for some more discussion.

       2.  The ULP creates "connection" state between AID(A)=L1(A) and
           AID(B) and sends the first packet.  L1(A) was picked using
           regular source address selection mechanisms.

       3.  The M6 layer matches on AID(B) and finds the proto-context
           state (setup in step #1) with Ls(B).  The existence of that
           state will make the M6 layer send a M6 packet.  The M6 layer
           selects a flowid F(local) consistent with the uniqueness
           requirements in section 3.1 (which ensure that the receiver
           will map to the correct AID pair).

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       4.  The packet (TCP SYN or whatever) is sent to peer with
           locators L1(A) to L1(B) i.e., the same as the AIDs.  Since B
           doesn't have any context state yet, A will not set the
           "rewrite ok" bit in the header.

       5.  Host B receives packet and sees it is a "M6 packet".  Passes
           the packet to the M6 shim layer.  The M6 layer can't create
           state on the first packet, but since the rewrite bit is not
           set in the packet it can pass the packet unmodified to the
           ULP.  The ULP sees a packet identified by AID(A), AID(B).

           The M6 layer initiates a state creation 3-way exchange by
           forming a context request message.  The same technique as in
           [MIPv6] can be used to securely do this exchange without any
           local state; use a local key which is never shared with
           anybody and pass the context state, a timestamp, and the
           keyed hash of the state+timestamp in the context request
           packet.  When the state, timestamp, and keyed hash value is
           returned in the context response message, the hash is used to
           verify that the state hasn't been modified.

           The 3-way exchange is done asynchronously with ULP packets,
           but it is possible (assuming the MTU allows) to piggyback ULP
           packets on this exchange.

           Should ULP packets be passed down to the M6 layer on B before
           the context response message has been received there will be
           no context state and no state installed as a result of a DNS
           lookup (unlike on A).  This will indicate that the ULP
           message should be passed as-is (not as an M6 message) to the
           peer.  Thus during the 3-way exchange packets can flow in
           both directions using the original locators=AIDs.  (However,
           this has some interactions with the suggestions in section

       6.  Host A receives the context request message.  It verifies
           that the message is related to something it sent by looking
           at the locators (should match the AIDs) and the flowid it
           sent (which is in the state in the context request message).

           If a ULP packet was piggybacked A will pass that to the ULP.

           Then A sends a content response which has the same
           information as the context request plus a nonce/timestamp
           that A selected.

       7.  Host B receives the context response message.  It verifies
           that the hash of the state is correct using its per-host key

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           and verifies that the timestamp is recent.  At this point in
           time it knows that A is at least not just blasting out
           packets as a DoS - A is also responding to context request
           messages.  Thus B goes ahead and allocates state at this
           point in time using the state that is in the context response

           The M6 layer selects a flowid F(B) consistent with the
           uniqueness requirements in section 3.1 (which ensure that the
           receiver will map to the correct AID pair).  At this point in
           time B has enough information to handle M6 packets from A,
           even though it hasn't yet determined and verified any
           additional peer locators from the DNS.  It has also the state
           (F(B) mainly) necessary send data packets to A with "rewrite
           ok" set.  Thus B sends a context confirm message to A which
           contains A's nonce/timestamp from the context response and

           If a ULP packet was piggybacked on the context response B
           will pass that to the ULP.

           At this point in time B can start asynchronously and
           incrementally extracting and verifying Ls(A) from the DNS.
           The first lookup consists of finding L1(A)=AID(A) in ip6.arpa
           to get the FQDN and record it, and lookup the AAAA RR set for
           that FQDN to get Ls(A).  Then verify (also incrementally)
           that each member of Ls(A) is indeed assigned to A by doing a
           reverse lookup of each one (except L1(A) which was already
           looked up).  Only when the reverse lookup of a given peer
           locator has completed is that locator marked as verified.
           This reverse lookup of each locator prevents 3rd party DoS
           attacks as described in [M6SEC].

       8.  Host A receives the context confirm message, verifies the
           nonce/timestamp, and records F(peer) from the packet.

           If a ULP packet was piggybacked on the context confirm A will
           pass that to the ULP.

           At this point in time A knows that B has context state, thus
           it can start sending packets with "rewrite ok" set.

4.2.  Locator Change

      This is the sequence of events when B receives a packet with a
      previously unused source locator for A, for instance L2(A).

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      Host B receives M6 packet with source L2(A) and destination L1(B).
      Looks up context state using the flowid and the locators.  If this
      lookup succeeds then the locator is acceptable for incoming
      packets (even though it might not have been verified for use as
      return traffic) and the packet is rewritten to contain the AIDs
      from the context state and passed to the ULP.

      If L2(A) has not been verified then it would make sense for B to
      put that first in the list of asynchronous DNS verifications that
      are needed.  If/once L2(A) has been verified B can make it the
      preferred peer locator for use when sending packets to AID(A).

      The verification needs to complete before using the locator as a
      destination in order to prevent 3rd party DoS attacks [M6SEC].

      If a host receives a packet with a known flowid but where the
      locators (source and destination) are not part of the locator sets
      it drops the packet and sends an Unknown context error as
      specified in section 5.

4.3.  Handling Locator Failures

      Should not all locators be working when the communication is
      initiated some extra complexity arises, because the ULP has
      already been told which AIDs to use.  If the locators that where
      selected to be AIDs are not working it isn't possible to send a
      zero-overhead initial packet from A to B.  Instead both the AIDs
      and the working locators need to be conveyed.  This could be done
      by either reusing IP-in-IP encapsulating or defining another M6
      message type which carries both.  Details TBD.

      After context setup the sender can use retransmit hints from the
      ULP to get the M6 layer to try a different verified locator.

      If one outbound path from the site fails and the border routers
      rewrite source locators then the peer in another site will see
      packets with the working source locators.  Once that locator has
      been verified, the return path will switch to use the working
      locator.  As long as both ends are transmitting packets this will
      relatively quickly switch to working locators except when both
      hosts experience a failing locator at the same time.

      Without locator rewriting one would need to add some notification
      e.g., by defining a new bit in the router advertisement prefixes
      (IMHO this is semantically different than the preferred vs.
      deprecated stuff), but we also need some mechanism to carry this

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      info from the border routers to the routers on each subnet.

4.4.  Locator Set Changes

      Due to events like site renumbering the set of locators assigned
      to a host might change at a slow rate.  Since this proposal uses
      the locators in the DNS as the credible source for which locators
      are assigned there is some coordination necessary to ensure that
      before a host, or the border routers for a site doing rewriting,
      start using a new source locator, that locator has propagated
      through the DNS so that the peer could have discovered it.

      Due to concerns about having packets with unknown, hence
      potentially bogus, source locators triggering DNS lookups this
      proposal instead uses the DNS TTL as an indication that the set of
      locators need to be refreshed.  One could also envision a
      combination of receiving a packet *and* the DNS TTL having expired
      as the trigger to redo the DNS lookups.

      When DNS TTL expires on either host it performs a new FQDN->Ls
      lookup to get the new set of locators. (Presumably failures to
      redo the lookup shouldn't have a negative effect.)

      When a host sees (based on router advertisements [DISCOVERY]) that
      one of its locators has become deprecated and it has additional
      locators that are still preferred, it is recommended that the host
      start using the preferred locator(s) with the contexts that have
      already been established.  This ensures that should the deprecated
      locator become invalid the peers have already verified other
      locator(s) for the host.

4.5.  Preventing Premeditated Redirection Attacks

      The threats document [M6SEC] talks of premeditated redirection
      attacks that is where an attacker claims to be a host before the
      real host appears.  The absence of an actual IP layer identifier
      in this proposal makes that a non-issue; the attacker could only
      claim to be host A if the attacker is reachable at one of A's
      locators.  Thus by definition the attacker would have to be on the
      path between the communicating peers and such attackers can
      perform redirection attacks in today's Internet.

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      The protocol needs to handle two forms of state loss:

       - a peer loosing all state,

       - the M6 layer garbage collecting state too early due to not
         being aware of what all ULPs do.

      The first case is the already existing case of a host crashing and
      "rebooting" and as a result loosing transport and application
      state.  In this case there are some added complications from the
      M6 layer since a peer will continue to send packets assuming the
      context still exists and due to the loss of state on the receiver
      it isn't even able to pass the correct packet up to the ULP (e.g.,
      to be able to get TCP to generate a reset packet) since it doesn't
      know what AIDs to use when replacing the locators.

      The second case is a bit more subtle.  Ideally an implementation
      shouldn't discard the context state when there is some ULP that
      still depends on this state.  While this might be possible for
      some implementations with a fixed set of applications, it doesn't
      appear to be possible for implementations which provide the socket
      API; there can be things like user-level "connections" on top of
      UDP as well as application layer "session" above TCP which retain
      the identifiers from some previous communication and expect to use
      those identifiers at a later date.  But the M6 layer has no
      ability to be aware of this.

      Thus an implementation shouldn't discard context state when it
      knows it has ULP connection state (which can be checked in e.g.,
      Unix for TCP), or when there is active communication (UDP packets
      being sent to AID(A) recently), but when there is an infrequently
      communicating user-level "connection" over UDP or "session" over
      TCP the context state might be garbage collected even though it

      For instance, if B crashes and rebooted and A retransmits a packet
      with flowid, L3(B), L2(A) then what is needed is a packet to L1(B)
      from L1(A) passed to the ULP so that the ULP can send an error
      (such as a TCP reset).  But B has no matching state thus it needs
      to send an Unknown context error back.  (Should the packet not
      have "rewrite ok" set host B can pass it to the ULP since it knows
      that such packets contain locators that are AIDs.  But once the
      context has been established the peer is likely to send all
      packets with "rewrite ok" set.)

      If host B instead only lost (garbage collected too early) the M6

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      context state things are a bit more complicated for packets passed
      down from the ULP.  Without without any context state the M6 layer
      on B can not determine whether packets to AID(A) coming from the
      ULP are destinated to a standard IPv6 host or a host which
      supports multihoming.  Either B can determine this by doing a
      reverse lookup of AID(A)->FQDN(A) followed by a FQDN(A) lookup to
      see of there is an M6 record (and get the locator set of A as
      well).  Or, if DNS reverse lookups are undesirable or do not work,
      perhaps a packet could be exchanged with A to ask it whether it
      supports multihoming.

      If B is communicating with both standard IPv6 hosts and hosts
      which support multihoming then it has to avoid doing these DNS
      lookups or peer queries for every packet sent to a standard IPv6
      host.  Implementation tricks (such as "has this socket ever used
      M6" flag at the socket layer, and "negative caching" of peers that
      do not support M6) can be useful to avoid performance overhead.

      If as part of this B determines that A is M6 capable it has the
      same information as the initiator during the initial context
      establishment thus it can follow that procedure.  If A didn't
      garbage collect its end of the state this will require some extra
      work to come up with a single host-pair context for a pair of AIDs
      at both ends with consistent flowids in the two hosts (i.e.,
      F(local) needs to match F(peer) at the other host).  Specifying
      this is for further study.


      The idea is to pick extra IP protocol values for common
      combinations, and have a designated protocol value to capture the
      uncommon IP protocols which might use M6.  The uncommon IP
      protocol values would require an additional extension header when
      used over M6.

      We pick two unused ranges of IP protocol values with 8 numbers
      each (assuming we will not need more than 7 common transport
      protocols).  The ranges start at P1 and P2, respectively:
      P1      TCP over M6 - rewrite ok
      P1+1    UDP over M6 - rewrite ok
      P1+2    SCTP over M6 - rewrite ok
      P1+3    RDDP over M6 - rewrite ok
      P1+4    ESP over M6 - rewrite ok

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      P1+7    escape - any protocol over M6 - rewrite ok
              In this case we spend another 8 bytes (minimum IPv6
              extension header size due to alignment rule) to carry the
              actual IP protocol.  This causes some mtu concerns for those
              protocols, but they aren't very likely to be used with M6?

      P2      TCP over M6 - no rewrite
      P2+1    UDP over M6 - no rewrite
      P2+2    SCTP over M6 - no rewrite
      P2+3    RDDP over M6 - no rewrite
      P2+4    ESP over M6 - no rewrite
      P2+7    escape - any protocol over M6 - no rewrite
              In this case we spend another 8 bytes (minimum IPv6
              extension header size due to alignment rule) to carry the
              actual IP protocol.  This causes some mtu concerns for those
              protocols, but they aren't very likely to be used with M6?

      Thus a router would check if the protocol is in the P1 range and
      if so, it can rewrite the locator(s).  A host would check a
      received packet against both P1 and P2 ranges and if so pass it to
      the M6 shim layer.

      Some possible alternatives to the above encoding is to:

       - use some combination of the universal/local and group bit in
         the interface id of the source address field to indicate
         "rewrite ok".

       - steal the ECN bits from the traffic class before ECN becomes a
         proposed standard?  Don't think this will be popular!

       - always have a shim header - adds 8 bytes overhead per packet.

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      A host can easily implement M6 in a way that interoperates with
      current IPv6 as follows.

      When the DNS lookup routines do not find an M6 record for the peer
      they will return the AAAA resource record set to the application;
      those would be the IPv6 addresses.  When the ULP passes down these
      addresses the M6 layer will not have any state generated by the
      DNS lookup code, thus no M6 processing will take place on the
      sender.  (Note that this relates to the M6 layer state recovery in
      section 5.)

      The receive side handles both standard IPv6 and M6 since it
      demultiplexing on whether a packet is an M6 packet.


      The upper level protocols will operate on AIDs which are mere
      locators.  Thus as long as a site hasn't renumbered the AID can be
      used to either send packets to the host, or (e.g. if that locator
      isn't working), it is possible for an application to do a reverse
      lookup plus forward lookup of the AID to get the set of locators
      for the peer.

      Once a site has been renumbered the AIDs which contain the old
      prefix will no longer be useful.  Hence applications must try to
      honor the DNS TTL somehow.

      Applications which use to map the peer's IP address to a domain
      name today perform a reverse lookup in the DNS (e.g., using the
      getnameinfo() API).  This proposal doesn't add or subtract to the
      benefits of performing such reverse lookups.

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      The IPv6 header does not have a checksum field; the IPv6 address
      fields are assumed to be protected by the ULP pseudo-header
      checksum.  The general approach of an M6 shim which replaces
      locators with identifiers (where only the identifiers are covered
      by the ULP checksum) raises the potential issue of robustly
      handling bit errors in the address fields.

      With the definition of the M6 shim there can be undetectable bit
      errors in the flowid field or the nexthdr field which might
      adversely affect the operation of the protocol.  And since the
      AIDs are what's covered by the ULP's pseudo-header checksum the
      locators in the address fields are without checksum protection.
      An undetected bit error in the source locator would look like an
      unverified source locator to the receiver.  Thus the packet would
      (after replacing locators with identifiers based on the context)
      be passed to the ULP and a challenge response exchange be
      triggered.  In the case of a bit error in the locator this
      challenge isn't likely to receive a response; and if there is a
      response by someone it wouldn't be from the actual peer thus the
      verification would fail.  Thus such an undetected bit error is

      Except for the obscure case when Ls(A) contains multiple verified
      locators, one or more of those are not working, and the bit error
      causes L1(A) to be replaced by L2(A).  That would make the return
      traffic go to L2(A), but that might be a non-functioning locator.
      In this case the mistake will be corrected when a subsequent
      packet is received from A.

      An undetected bit error in the destination address field is also
      harmless; it might cause misdelivery of the packet to a host which
      has no context but the reception of the resulting Unknown context
      error message will show that it arrives from the incorrect locator
      thus it will be ignored.

      An undetected bit error in the IPv6 next header field can
      potentially make a M6 packet appear as a non-M6 packet and vice
      versa.  This isn't any different than undetected bit errors in
      IPv6 next header field without multihoming support.

      An undetected bit error in the flowid in a data message could have
      two possible effects: not finding any context state, or finding
      the incorrect context state.  In the first case the Unknown
      context error message would be dropped by the peer since the
      flowid included in the error message doesn't match the flowid that
      was originally sent.  In the second case this will result in a

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      packet with incorrect identifiers being delivered to the ULP which
      most like will drop it due to ULP checksums not matching.


      Ingress filtering should be replaced by locator rewrite when the
      "rewrite ok" bit is set.

      Locator rewriting (when the bit is set) can be applied at places
      where ingress filtering isn't currently performed (e.g., due to
      multihoming issues).

      Firewall filtering potentially require modifications to be aware
      of M6.  All the packets contain locator thus a firewall would need
      to be aware of the context state to let the correct packets
      through.  Such firewalls could optionally perform their own
      verification by issuing DNS lookups the same way as the endpoint.
      However, the firewalls probably has to be more careful not
      exposing themselves to DoS attacks by doing too much DNS lookups.


      As specified all of ESP, AH, and key management is layered above
      the M6 layer.  Thus they benefit from the stable identifiers
      provided above the M6 layer.  This means the IPsec security
      associations are unaffected by switching locators.

      The alternative would be to layer M6 above IPsec, but that doesn't
      seem to provide any benefits.  Since we want to allow routers
      performing locator rewriting it wouldn't be possible to take
      advantage of for instance AH to protect the integrity of the IP

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      This analysis is far from complete.  Early analysis indicates this
      addresses the issues in [M6SEC].

      Just as in today's Internet hosts on the path can inject bogus
      packets; in this proposal they need to extract the flowids from
      the packets in order to do this which wouldn't be hard.  Packet
      injection from off-path places becomes harder since it requires
      guessing the 20 bit flowid together with locators that are in the
      locator sets.

      DNS verification implications TBD


      Use an actual extension header for M6 and use a context tag in
      that header instead of using the flowid.  This would make the
      packets 8 bytes larger since the minimum extension header size is
      8 bytes due to the alignment rules for extension headers in IPv6.


      DNS lookup fails or times out on the receiver; what should one do?
      Send error?

      Is it possible to facilitate transition to M6 using some "M6
      proxy" at site boundaries until all important hosts in a site have
      been upgraded to support M6?  Would would be the properties of
      such a proxy?  Would it place any additional requirements on the
      protocol itself?

      One of the issues with FQDNs mapping to AAAA records is that in
      some cases multiple AAAA records mean a multihomed host and in
      other cases it means multiple hosts providing the same service.
      If we need to introduce a new RR type for M6, would it be useful
      to try to make this host/service distinction more clear at the
      same time?  An example solution would be that the M6 record would

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      by its existence indicate the M6 capability, and its RDATA would
      contain a list of host names which would be used to resolve the
      AAAA records for each host implementing the service.

      Would destination locator rewriting be a useful way for the
      routing system to pass some information to the host?  Or is source
      locator rewriting sufficient?

      Understanding the performance of DNS verification with and without
      DNSsec.  With DNSsec how many public key signature verifications
      are likely to be needed for the reverse lookup of each locator?

14.1.  Handling Hosts without a FQDN

      As specified in this document each host (including the initiating
      one) whether or not multihomed needs to have a FQDN.

      However, it isn't hard to allow hosts without a FQDN to
      communicate with multihomed hosts that have a FQDN; as a result
      the hosts without a FQDN would not benefit from "rehoming".

      This requires that when a responder tries to verify the peer by
      performing DNS lookups (reverse and forward) if it fails to
      perform a reverse lookup on the peer AID then it will assume that
      the peer has no FQDN.  In this case the Ls(peer) will contain only
      the AID(peer) i.e., the peer locator can not change.

      Whether the reverse lookup on the AID should be repeated (in order
      to handle transient failures) is TBD.

14.2.  Locator Set Inconsistencies

      Due to transient failures of the DNS lookups, misconfigured DNS
      (returning different information "locally" than in remote
      lookups), or changes to the resource record sets during a
      renumbering event, the two ends of a context host-pair might have
      conflicting views on each others locator sets.

      This can result in black holes if the sender uses a source locator
      which the receiver has not discovered using DNS lookups.  It is
      unclear whether the error messages sent back could be used to
      detect and recover from this type of inconsistency.

      But it is possible to add an additional protocol mechanism to make
      the two ends converge on the set of locators which is the
      intersection of what the two ends know.  This could be done any

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      time after the context has been established.

      For example, A could send some new message type to B containing
      what it thinks is Ls(A) and Ls(B).  When B receives this message
      it calculates the intersection between the received sets and its
      knowledge of the locator sets.  The result is used both in B's
      context state and sent back to A.  When A receives the response it
      can verify that the result is in fact a subset of its existing
      locator sets (simply by forming the intersection between its state
      and the received sets) and use that.  As a sanity check the AIDs
      should not be removed from the locator sets as part of this

      Verifying the flowids in this exchange guards against off-path
      attackers artificially reducing the locator sets.

14.3.  Renumbering Considerations

      Need to write down any special coordination needed when a locator
      is added to a locator set or when one is removed; this can happen
      when a site is renumbered.

14.4.  Initiator Confusion vs. "Virtual Hosting"

      When A wants to communicate with host B and host X at the same
      time there can be some confusion since the DNS could return
      partially overlapping locator sets for the two remote hosts.  For

      The lookup of FQDN(B) returns Ls(B) which contains L1(B), L2(B),
      ... Ln(B).

      The lookup of FQDN(X) returns L1(B), L1(X)

      The result is that connections that could be intended to go to B
      and to X could both end up with an AID=L1(B), but the multihoming
      shim layer would have two separate locator sets associated with
      L1(B).  Thus at a minimum when the second of the two
      communications starts there has to be some way to resolve this

      In section 4.1 this is resolved by the initiator performing a
      reverse lookup on the AID.  Thus looking up L1(B) in the ip6.arpa
      tree in the above example.  That works because it would return
      FQDN(B) thus X could be safely declared as being bogus.  As a
      result communication with X would not be possible.

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      However, in many (IPv4) hosting setups today multiple domain names
      (www.foo.com, www.bar.com) are served by a single IP address.  In
      this case the reverse lookup can't point back at both names unless
      the PTR resource record contains multiple records with different
      names.  Per [RFC2181] section 10.2 this is allowed but it doesn't
      appear to be commonly used.

      Can we depend on this little used feature of the PTR usage?  If
      not it would seems to mean that each locator can only be used with
      one FQDN which would be more restrictive than we have with IPv4


      This document is the result of discussions in a MULTI6 design team
      but is not the "product" of that design team.  The scribe wishes
      to acknowledge the contributions of (in alphabetical order):
      Iljitsch van Beijnum, Brian Carpenter, Tony Li, Mike O'Dell, and
      Pekka Savola.

      The idea to allow locator rewriting by routers was first presented
      by Mike O'Dell [ODELL96].  The techniques for avoiding state DoS
      attacks on the first packet are patterned after [MIPv6].


16.1.  Normative References

        [M6SEC] Nordmark, E., and T. Li, "Threats relating to IPv6
                multihoming solutions", draft-nordmark-multi6-threats-
                00.txt, October 2003.

        [ADDR-ARCH] S. Deering, R. Hinden, Editors, "IP Version 6
                Addressing Architecture", RFC 3513, April 2003.

        [IPv6] S. Deering, R. Hinden, Editors, "Internet Protocol,
                Version 6 (IPv6) Specification", RFC 2461.

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16.2.  Informative References

        [NSRG] Lear, E., and R. Droms, "What's In A Name: Thoughts from
                the NSRG", draft-irtf-nsrg-report-09.txt (work in
                progress), March 2003.

        [MIPv6] Johnson, D., C. Perkins, and J. Arkko, "Mobility Support
                in IPv6", draft-ietf-mobileip-ipv6-24.txt (work in
                progress), June 2003.

        [AURA02] Aura, T. and J. Arkko, "MIPv6 BU Attacks and Defenses",
                draft-aura-mipv6-bu-attacks-01 (work in progress), March

        [NIKANDER03] Nikander, P., T. Aura, J. Arkko, G. Montenegro, and
                E. Nordmark, "Mobile IP version 6 Route Optimization
                Security Design Background", draft-nikander-mobileip-
                v6-ro-sec-01 (work in progress), June 2003.

        [ODELL96] O'Dell M., "8+8 - An Alternate Addressing Architecture
                for IPv6", draft-odell-8+8-00.txt, October 1996,

                (MAST): AN EXTENDED PROPOSAL", draft-crocker-mast-
                protocol-01.txt, October, 2003.

        [CB128] E. Nordmark, "Strong Identity Multihoming using 128 bit
                Identifiers (SIM/CBID128)", draft-nordmark-multi6-sim-
                00.txt, October 2003.

        [DISCOVERY] T. Narten, E. Nordmark, and W. Simpson, "Neighbor
                Discovery for IP Version 6 (IPv6)", RFC 2461, December

        [IPv6-SA] R. Atkinson.  "Security Architecture for the Internet
                Protocol".  RFC 2401, November 1998.

        [IPv6-AUTH] R. Atkinson.  "IP Authentication Header", RFC 2402,
                November 1998.

        [IPv6-ESP] R. Atkinson.  "IP Encapsulating Security Payload
                (ESP)", RFC 2406, November 1998.

        [RFC2181] R. Elz, and R. Bush, "Clarifications to the DNS
                Specification", RFC 2181, July 1997.

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        Erik Nordmark
        Sun Microsystems, Inc.
        17 Network Circle
        Mountain View, CA

        phone: +1 650 786 2921
        fax:   +1 650 786 5896
        email: erik.nordmark@sun.com

   Full Copyright Statement

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      The limited permissions granted above are perpetual and will not be
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      This document and the information contained herein is provided on an


      Funding for the RFC Editor function is currently provided by the
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