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Versions: 00 01

Internet Engineering Task Force                                 H. Stenn
Internet-Draft                                   Network Time Foundation
Intended status: Standards Track                        October 24, 2016
Expires: April 27, 2017


          Network Time Protocol Suggest REFID Extension Field
                    draft-stenn-ntp-suggest-refid-01

Abstract

   NTP has been widely used through several revisions, with the latest
   being RFC 5905 [RFC5905].  A core component of the protocol and the
   algoritms is the Reference ID, or REFID, which is used to identify
   the source of time used for synchronization.  Traditionally, when the
   source of time was another system the REFID was the IPv4 address of
   that other system.  The purpose of the REFID is to prevent a one-
   degree timing loop, where if A has several timing sources that
   include B, if B decides to get its time from A we don't want A then
   deciding to get its time from B.  The REFID is considered to be
   "public data" and is a vital core-component of the base NTP packet.
   If a system's REFID is the IPv4 address of its system peer, an
   attacker can try to use that information to send spoofed time packets
   to either or both the target or the target's server, attempting to
   cause a disruption in time service.  This proposal is a backward-
   compatible way for a time source to tell its peers or clients "If you
   use me as your system peer, use this nonce as your REFID."  This
   nonce SHOULD not be traceable to the original system, and if it is
   used as the REFID this type of attack is prevented.

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 April 27, 2017.





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Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2016 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
   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  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
     1.1.  Requirements Language . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   2.  The REFID . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   3.  The Suggested REFID Extension Field . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   4.  Generating and Sending the Suggested REFID Extension Field  .   4
   5.  Receiving a Suggested REFID Extension Field . . . . . . . . .   5
   6.  Acknowledgements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   7.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   8.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   9.  Normative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6

1.  Introduction

   NTP has been widely used through several revisions, with the latest
   being RFC 5905 [RFC5905].  A core component of the protocol and the
   algoritms is the Reference ID, or REFID, which is used to identify
   the source of time used for synchronization.  Traditionally, when the
   source of time was another system, the REFID was the IPv4 address of
   that other system.  If the remote system was using IPv6 for its
   connection, a 4 octet digest value of the IPv6 address was used.  The
   purpose of the REFID is to prevent a one-degree timing loop, where if
   A has several timing sources that include B, if B decides to get its
   time from A we don't want A then deciding to get its time from B.
   The REFID is considered to be "public data" and is a vital core-
   component of the base NTP packet.  If a system's REFID is the IPv4
   address of its system peer, an attacker can try to use that
   information to send spoofed time packets to either or both the target
   or the target's server, attempting to cause a disruption in time
   service.  This proposal is a backward-compatible way for a time
   source to tell its peers or clients "If you use me as your system



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   peer, use this nonce as your REFID."  This nonce, a Suggested REFID,
   SHOULD not be traceable to the sending system.  If the receiving
   system uses this Suggested REFID nonce instead of the IPv4 address as
   its REFID, this type of attack and information disclosure is
   prevented.

   The NTP protocol was designed with a mechanism that allowed for a
   depth-1 loop detection to avoid a simple "time loop".  Recently, this
   mechanism was discovered to be a potential vulnerability exploit.
   The best way to mitigate this vulnerability is to decouple the IPv4
   address of the server from its REFID.  But there is no current way
   for a potential time source to tell the other party any other
   alternative to use as the REFID.  This proposal creates an extension
   field to accomplish this.

1.1.  Requirements Language

   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.  The REFID

   The core reason for the REFID in the NTP Protocol is to prevent a
   timing loop of degree 1.  Put another way, if servers A and B are
   exchanging time with each other and server B decides to follow A as
   its system peer, the REFID that B will use must be able to identify
   server A.  The interpretation of a REFID is based on the stratum, as
   documented in RFC 5905 [RFC5905], section 7.3, "Packet Header
   Variables".  At Stratum 2+, which will be the case if servers A and B
   are exchanging packets over IPv4, if server B follows A, then B will
   have A's IPv4 address as its REFID.  When A asks B for its time, A
   will see that B is synchronized to A because B will tell A that its
   REFID is A's IPv4 address, so when A sees its IP address as B's
   REFID, A knows that if it were to follow B for its time then there
   would be a timing loop.  In this case, A will not select B as a
   potential source of time.

3.  The Suggested REFID Extension Field

   Since there is no way in the base NTP packet for "this" instance of
   an NTP server to tell the "other" instance what REFID it should use
   if the "other" instance decides to use "this" instance as its system
   peer, the best available way to convey this information is via an
   extension field.

   If an incoming packet contains an unrecognized extension field, one
   of two things will happen.  While an unknown extension field SHOULD



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   be ignored, the entire packet MAY be dropped.  If an extension field
   is present there ordinarily SHOULD be a MAC following the extension
   field.  Some extension fields are unable to be "signed" by a MAC,
   regardless of whether or not that MAC is a traditional MAC or an
   extension field MAC.

   The following paragraph is included for informational purposes.
   Another proposal is on its way that addresses and clarifies extension
   fields, perhaps in the form of an errata to
   https://datatracker.ietf.org/doc/draft-ietf-ntp-extension-field .

   To assist in the validation of an NTP packet that contains extension
   fields, if the Field Type has the 0x2000 bit set in it, there MAY be
   a MAC after this extension field.  If the Field Type does not have
   the 0x2000 bit set in it, there SHOULD be a MAC after this extension
   field.

    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
   +---------------+---------------+-------------------------------+
   |          Field Type           |        Field Length           |
   +-------------------------------+-------------------------------+
   |                        Suggested REFID                        |
   +---------------------------------------------------------------+

                   NTP Extension Field: REFID Suggestion

   Field Type: TBD (Recommendation for IANA: 0x0006 (Suggested REFID,
   MAC required), 0x2006 (Suggested REFID, MAC OPTIONAL))

   Field Length: 0x0008

   Suggested REFID: The 4 octets of the suggested REFID.  This value
   SHOULD be 0xFDxxxxxx, where the bottom 3 octets SHOULD be random
   values.

   Examples: When decoded as an IPv4 address, suggested REFIDs would
   decode as 253.0.0.0 thru 253.255.255.255.

4.  Generating and Sending the Suggested REFID Extension Field

   A system that decides to send a Suggested REFID extension field
   SHOULD generate a new Suggested REFID for each new association.  It
   MAY generate a new Suggested REFID for any association in any
   response.  In addition to remembering the IP-based REFID, the sender
   MUST also remember its most-recent Suggested REFID.





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   Since the core NTPv4 and earlier protocols do not contain any way to
   tell the recipient what to use as a REFID and RFC 5905 [RFC5905] uses
   the IPv4 address of the sender as the REFID if the association is
   effected over an IPv4 connection, this means that an attacker can
   simply send an NTP client request to a server knowing that server's
   system peer will be returned as the REFID in the response packet.  At
   this point, an attacker can, if that REFID is an IPv4 address, begin
   to launch attacks at the target forging the putative IP of the
   target's time source, or the attacker can start forging packets to
   the putative time server claiming to be from the target, in an
   attempt to cause the time server to limit or deny time service to the
   target.

   Using a nonce for the REFID that is only recognized by the sending
   machine effectively prevents this type of attack.

   If servers S1, S2, and S3 are all exchanging time with each other,
   there is a 1 in 16,777,216 (2^24) chance that two different servers
   in the same group will happen to choose the same nonce, and that
   would produce a false-positive timing loop detection.  If the
   Suggested REFID is never changed, this false-positive condition will
   occur for potentially a long time.  This small risk can be reduced by
   periodically generating a new Suggested REFID.

5.  Receiving a Suggested REFID Extension Field

   An NTP server keeps track of the IP address it uses to talk to a
   client.  If an NTP server chooses to send a Suggested REFID to an
   association, it MUST remember this value.  When checking for a timing
   loop, the Suggested REFID must also be included in the list of tested
   values.

6.  Acknowledgements

   The author wishes to acknowledge the contributions of Martin Burnicki
   and Sam Weiler.

7.  IANA Considerations

   This memo requests IANA to allocate NTP Extension Field Types 0x0006
   (Suggested REFID, MAC required), 0x2006 (Suggested REFID, MAC
   OPTIONAL) for this purpose.

8.  Security Considerations

   Additional information TBD





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9.  Normative References

   [RFC2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, March 1997,
              <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc2119>.

   [RFC5905]  Mills, D., Martin, J., Ed., Burbank, J., and W. Kasch,
              "Network Time Protocol Version 4: Protocol and Algorithms
              Specification", RFC 5905, DOI 10.17487/RFC5905, June 2010,
              <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc5905>.

   [RFC7384]  Mizrahi, T., "Security Requirements of Time Protocols in
              Packet Switched Networks", RFC 7384, DOI 10.17487/RFC7384,
              October 2014, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc7384>.

Author's Address

   Harlan Stenn
   Network Time Foundation
   P.O. Box 918
   Talent, OR  97540
   US

   Email: stenn@nwtime.org


























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