Internet DRAFT - draft-ferguson-ingress-filtering


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Internet Draft                                    Paul Ferguson
July 1997                                         cisco Systems, Inc.
Expires in six months                             Daniel Senie
                                                  OpenROUTE Networks, Inc.

                     Network Ingress Filtering:
    Defeating IP Source Address Spoofing Denial of Service Attacks

Status of this Memo

    This document is an Internet Draft.  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 Drafts.

    Internet Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six
    months.  Internet Drafts may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by
    other documents at any time.  It is not appropriate to use Internet
    Drafts as reference material or to cite them other than as a
    "working draft" or "work in progress."

    To learn the current status of any Internet-Draft, please check the
    "1id-abstracts.txt" listing contained in the Internet-Drafts
    Shadow Directories on (Africa), (Europe), (Pacific Rim), (US East Coast), or (US West Coast).


    Recent occurrences of various Denial of Service (DoS) attacks
    which have employed forged source addresses have proven to be a
    troublesome issue for Internet Service Providers and the Internet
    community overall.  This paper discusses a simple, effective,
    and straightforward method for using ingress traffic filtering
    to deny DoS attacks which use forged IP addresses to be
    propagated from "behind" an Internet Service Provider's (ISP)
    aggregation point.

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INTERNET-DRAFT         Network Ingress Filtering                  July 1997

Table of Contents

    1.  Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
    2.  Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
    3.  Restricting forged traffic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
    4.  Further capabilities for networking equipment. . . . . . . 5
    5.  Liabilities. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
    6.  Summary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
    7.  Security Considerations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
    8.  Acknowledgments  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
    9.  References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
   10.  Authors' Addresses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

1. Introduction

   A resurgence of Denial of Service Attacks [1] aimed at various
   targets in the Internet have produced new challenges within the
   Internet Service Provider (ISP) and network security communities to
   new and innovative methods to mitigate these types of attacks.
   The difficulties in reaching this goal are numerous;  simple
   tools already exist to limit the effectiveness and scope of
   these attacks, but they have not been widely implemented.

   This method of attack has been known for some time. Defending
   against it has been a concern. Bill Cheswick is quoted in [2]
   as saying that he pulled a chapter from his book, "Firewalls and
   Internet Security" [3], at the last minute because there was no way
   for an administrator of the system under attack to effectively defend
   that system. By mentioning the method, he was concerned about
   encouraging its use.

   While the filtering method discussed in this document does
   absolutely nothing to protect against flooding attacks which
   originate from valid prefixes, it will prohibit an attacker within
   the originating network from launching an attack of this nature using
   forged source addresses that do not conform to ingress filtering
   rules. All providers of Internet connectivity are urged to
   implement filtering described in this document to prohibit
   attackers from using forged source addresses which do not
   reside within legitimately advertised prefixes.  In other words,
   if an ISP is aggregating routing announcements for multiple
   downstream networks, strict traffic filtering should be used
   to prohibit traffic which claims to have originated from outside
   of these announcements.

   An additional benefit of implementing this type of filtering is that
   it enables the originator to be easily traced, since the attacker
   would have to use a valid, and reachable, source address.

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2. Background

   A simplified diagram of the problem is depicted below:

    host <----- router <--- Internet <----- router <-- attacker

    no route
    no route
    no route



    o The host is the targeted machine.

    o The attacker resides within the "valid" prefix

    o The attacker launches the attack using randomly changing source
      addresses; in this example, the source addresses are depicted
      as from within [4], which are not present in the global Internet
      routing tables, and therefore, unreachable. Any unreachable prefix
      could be used to perpetrate this attack method.

   Also worthy of mention is a case wherein the source address is
   forged to appear to have originated from within another legitimate
   network, ie. one which does not appear in the global routing
   system. For example, an attacker using a valid network address
   could wreak havoc by making the attack appear to come from an
   organization which did not, in fact, originate the attack and
   was completely innocent. In such cases, the administrator of a
   system under attack may be inclined to filter all traffic coming
   from the apparent attack source. Adding such a filter would then
   result in a denial of service to legitimate, non-hostile end-systems.
   In this case, the administrator of the system under attack
   unwittingly becomes an accomplice of the attacker.

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   When an attack is launched using unreachable source address, the
   target host attempts to reserve resources waiting for a response.
   The attacker repeatedly changes the bogus source address on each
   new packet sent, thus exhausting additional host resources.

   Alternatively, if the attacker uses someone else's valid host address
   as the source address, the system under attack will send a large
   number of SYN/ACK packets to what it believes is the originator of
   the connection establishment sequence. In this fashion, the attacker
   does damage to two systems: the destination target system, as well as
   the system which is actually using the spoofed address in the global
   routing system.

   The result of both attack methods is extremely degraded performance,
   or worse, a system crash.

   Responding to this threat, most operating system vendors have
   modified their software to allow the targeted servers to sustain
   attacks with very high connection attempt rates. This is a welcome
   and necessary part of the solution to the problem. Ingress filtering
   will take time to be implemented pervasively and be fully effective,
   but the extensions to the operating systems can be implemented
   quickly. This combination should prove effective against source
   address spoofing. See [1] for vendor and platform software upgrade

3. Restricting forged traffic

   The problems encountered with this type of attack are numerous,
   and involve shortcomings in host software implementations, routing
   methodologies, and the TCP/IP protocols themselves.  However, by
   restricting transit traffic which originates from a downstream
   network to known, and intentionally advertised, prefix(es), the
   problem of source address spoofing can be virtually eliminated
   in this attack scenario.

                               router 1
         ISP <----- ISP <---- ISP <--- ISP <-- router <-- attacker
          A          B         C        D         2
              router 3

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INTERNET-DRAFT         Network Ingress Filtering                  July 1997

   In the example above, the attacker resides within,
   which is provided Internet connectivity by ISP D.  An input
   traffic filter on the ingress (input) link of "router 2", which
   provides connectivity to the attacker's network, restricts traffic
   to allow only traffic originating from source addresses within the prefix, and prohibits an attacker from using "invalid"
   source addresses which reside outside of this prefix range.

   In other words, the ingress filter on "router 2" above would check:

    IF    packet's source address from within
    THEN  forward as appropriate

    IF    packet's source address is anything else
    THEN  deny packet

   Network administrators should log information on packets which are
   dropped. This then provides a basis for monitoring any suspicious

4. Further capabilities for networking equipment

   Additional functions could be considered for future
   platform implementations. The following one is worth noting:

      o Implementation of automatic filtering on remote access servers.
        In most cases, a user dialing into an access server is an
        individual user on a single PC. The ONLY valid source IP
	address for packets originating from that PC is the one
	assigned by the ISP (whether statically or dynamically
        assigned). The remote access server could check every packet
	on ingress to ensure the user is not spoofing addresses.
        Obviously, provisions also need to be made for cases where the
        customer legitimately is attaching a net or subnet via a remote
        router, but this could certainly be implemented as an optional

5. Liabilities

   Filtering of this nature has the potential to break some types of
   special services. It is in the best interest of the ISP offering
   these types of special  services, however, to consider alternate
   methods of implementing these services to avoid being affected
   by ingress traffic filtering.

   Mobile IP as defined in [6] is affected by ingress filtering. As
   specified, traffic to the mobile node is tunneled, but traffic from
   the mobile node are not tunneled. This results in packets from the

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   mobile node(s) which have source addresses that do not match with
   the network where the station is attached.  The Mobile IP Working
   Group is addressing this problem by specifying "reverse tunnels"
   in [7].  This draft provides a method for the data transmitted from
   the mobile node to be tunneled to the home agent before transmission
   to the Internet.  There are additional benefits to the reverse
   tunneling scheme, including better handling of multicast traffic.
   Those implementing mobile IP systems are encouraged to implement
   this tunneling.

   While ingress filtering drastically reduces the success of source
   address spoofing, it does not preclude an attacker using a forged
   source address of another host within the permitted prefix filter
   range. It does, however, ensure that when an attack of this nature
   does indeed occur, a network administrator can be sure that the
   attack is actually originating from within the known prefixes that
   are being advertised. This simplifies tracking down of the culprit,
   and at worst, the administrator can block a range of source
   addresses until the problem is resolved.

   If ingress filtering is used in an environment where DHCP or BOOTP
   is used, the network administrator would be well advised to ensure
   that packets with a source address of and a destination
   of are allowed to reach the relay agent in routers
   when appropriate.

6. Summary

   Ingress traffic filtering at the periphery of Internet connected
   networks will reduce the effectiveness of source address spoofing
   denial of service attacks. Network service providers and
   administrators have already begun implementing this type of
   filtering on periphery routers, and it is recommended that all
   service providers do so as soon as possible. In addition to aiding
   the Internet community as a whole to defeat this attack method, it
   can also assist service providers in locating the source of the
   attack if service providers can categorically demonstrate that their
   network already has ingress filtering in place on customer links.

   Corporate network administrators should implement filtering to
   ensure their corporate networks are not the source of such
   problems. Indeed, filtering could be used within an organization to
   ensure users do not cause problems by improperly attaching systems
   to the wrong networks. The filtering would also block a disgruntled
   employee from anonymous attacks.

   It is the responsibility of all network administrators to ensure
   they do not become the unwitting source of an attack.

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7. Security considerations

   The primary consideration is to inherently increase security for the
   Internet community as a whole; as more Internet Providers and
   corporate network administrators implement ingress filtering, the
   opportunity for an attacker to use forged source addresses as an
   attack methodology will lessen. Tracking the source of an attack is
   simplified when the source is more likely to be "valid." By reducing
   the number and frequency of attacks in the Internet as a whole,
   there will be more resources for tracking the attacks which
   ultimately do occur.

8. Acknowledgments

   The North American Network Operators Group (NANOG) [5] group as a
   whole deserves special credit for openly discussing these issues and
   actively seeking possible solutions. Also, thanks to Justin Newton
   [Priori Networks] and Steve Bielagus [OpenROUTE Networks, Inc.]
   for their comments and contributions.

9. References

[1]  CERT Advisory CA.96-12; TCP SYN Flooding and IP Spoofing
     Attacks; September 24, 1996

[2]  B. Ziegler, "Hacker Tangles Panix Web Site", Wall Street Journal,
     12 September 1996

[3]  "Firewalls and Internet Security: Repelling the Wily Hacker";
     William R. Cheswick and Steven M. Bellovin, Addison-Wesley
     Publishing Company, 1994; ISBN 0-201-63357-4

[4]  RFC-1918, "Address Allocation for Private Internets"; Y. Rekhter,
     R. Moskowitz, D. Karrenberg, G. de Groot, E. Lear; February 1996

[5]  The North American Network Operators Group;

[6]  RFC-2002, "IP Mobility Support"; C. Perkins; October 1996

[7]  draft-ietf-mobileip-tunnel-reverse-02.txt, "Reverse Tunneling for
     Mobile IP"; G. Montenegro; March 1997

10. Authors' addresses

    Paul Ferguson                        Daniel Senie
    cisco Systems, Inc.                  OpenROUTE Networks, Inc.
    400 Herndon Parkway                  9 Technology Drive
    Herndon, VA  USA 20170               Westboro, MA  USA 01581
    Email:            Email:

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