Re: [MBONED] Eric Rescorla's Discuss on draft-ietf-mboned-mtrace-v2-22: (with DISCUSS and COMMENT)

Kerry Meyer <> Fri, 16 March 2018 06:23 UTC

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From: Kerry Meyer <>
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Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2018 23:23:04 -0700
Cc: The IESG <>,, Leonard Giuliano <>,,, Warren Kumari <>, Hitoshi Asaeda <>,
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To: Eric Rescorla <>
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Subject: Re: [MBONED] Eric Rescorla's Discuss on draft-ietf-mboned-mtrace-v2-22: (with DISCUSS and COMMENT)
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Hi Eric and others,

We are sorry for the long delay. We have been carefully considering the points you have raised and how best to address them. We hope that the proposed resolutions of those points will satisfy your concerns.


> On Jan 18, 2018, at 7:34 AM, Eric Rescorla <> wrote:
> Eric Rescorla has entered the following ballot position for
> draft-ietf-mboned-mtrace-v2-22: Discuss
> When responding, please keep the subject line intact and reply to all
> email addresses included in the To and CC lines. (Feel free to cut this
> introductory paragraph, however.)
> Please refer to
> for more information about IESG DISCUSS and COMMENT positions.
> The document, along with other ballot positions, can be found here:
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> The security considerations of this document are inadequate. My review
> turns up at least the following potential issues which do
> not seem to be addressed or even discussed:
> - Amplification: this protocol does not appear to verify that the
>  sender of the query actually owns the IP it claims. Because
>  responses are much larger than queries, this allows for an amplification
>  attack, especially if the client is able to send a query that elicits
>  multiple replies. One defense here would be to fill the rest of the packet
>  with zeroes, thus somewhat reducing the amplification factor. Access
>  control would also help.
We understand that access control is required to protect against this and other threats from malicious senders. This will be specified in section 9.2 as follows;

"A router MUST support a mechanism to filter out queries from clients
and “requests” from peer router addresses that are unauthorized or
that are beyond a specified administrative boundary.  This filtering
could, for example, be specified via a list of allowed/disallowed client
and peer addresses or subnets for the Mtrace2 protocol port. If a query
or request is received from an unauthorized address or one beyond the
specified administrative boundary, the Query/Request MUST NOT be
processed. The router MAY, however, perform rate limited logging of such

Additional text has been added to section 9.7 (see later in this mail) to explicitly map this and other concerns to the recommended prevention mechanism.

> - Forgery of responses: because the query id is so short, an attacker
>  can generally produce a message which has a nontrivial chance of
>  corresponding to an extant query. This could be addressed by having
>  a query ID that was large and random.

Because there are 2**16 possible query ID values, an average of 2**15 forged response attempts would be required to “hit” the actual query ID for a given extant query. The amount of time to do this would far exceed the lifetime of an extant query/response. Even assuming that a targeted client has multiple extant queries at a given time, the chance of matching one is still quite small. More importantly, the required access control for the Mtrace protocol port (section 9.2, aforementioned) provides protection against an unauthorized malicious sender injecting bogus request packets.

> - Anyone on-path can forge responses.
The forger would need to match the query ID and the dynamically allocated client (source) port (REF: section 3.2.1) to create a valid reply message that would pass validity checks at the client.

> In addition, Section 9.4 seems inadequate. Isn't it generally the case that
> who is sending to who is sensitive? This seems like a fairly serious privacy
> obstacle to using this protocol at all.
The requirement to specify a list of “trusted” clients (section 9.2) provides a mechanism to avoid the dissemination of this information to unauthorized hosts.

> It seems like many of the issues I raise above would be fixed or at
> least mitigated by having some sort of access control mechanism.  I
> understand why it might be the case that it's not practical to have
> full communication security between the links (though it would of
> course be desirable), but it's not clear to me why arbitrary people
> should be allowed to instantiate queries.
Agreed. The requirement to restrict the addresses permitted to send Mtrace messages to a given router is specified in an expanded version of section 9.2.
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> S 1.
>   When an Mtrace2 client initiates a multicast trace, it sends an
>   Mtrace2 Query packet to the LHR or RP for a multicast group and,
> This seems a bit confusing as there are multiple LHRs for the group.
> Can you rephrase?
The word “the” preceding “LHR ...” has been changed to “an”.
> S 2.1.
>   ALL-[protocol]-ROUTERS group
>      It is a link-local multicast address for multicast routers to
> This is grammatically funny. Perhaps remove "It is”
The words “It is” have been removed from the cited paragraph and other similar adjacent paragraphs.
> S 3.
>   additional information associated with the message.  If an
>   implementation receives an unknown TLV type for the first TLV in a
>   message (i.e., the header TLV), it SHOULD ignore and silently discard
>   the entire packet.  If an implementation receives an unknown TLV type
>   for a subsequent TLV within a message, it SHOULD ignore and silently
>   discard the entire packet.
> ISTM that these cases are handled identically so is there a reason
> not just to remove the first sentence and change the second one to
> "for any TLV"/
These two cases have been combined to reflect the fact that there is no difference in handling.

“If an implementation receives an unknown TLV type for any TLV in a
message, it SHOULD ignore and silently discard the entire packet.”

> S 3.2.1
>   An Mtrace2 Query is usually originated by an Mtrace2 client which
>   sends an Mtrace2 Query message to the LHR.  When tracing towards the
>   source or the RP, the intermediate routers MUST NOT modify the Query
>   message except the Type field.
> I'm not sure I follow this. Don't routers either (a) not touch this at all
> or (b) if they are the LHR, change Type from Query -> Request and then
> add a response block? This text seems to not really capture either case.
The paragraph has been modified based on this comment as follows;

“An Mtrace2 Query is originated by an Mtrace2 client which
sends an Mtrace2 Query message to the LHR.  The LHR modifies only
the Type field of the Query TLV (to turn it into a “Request”)
before appending a Standard Response Block and forwarding it upstream.
The LHR and intermediate routers handling the Mtrace2 message when
tracing upstream MUST NOT modify any other fields within the
Query/Request TLV. Additionally, intermediate routers handling
the message after the LHR has converted the Query into a Request
MUST NOT modify the type field of the Request TLV. If the actual number
of hops is not known, an Mtrace2 client could send an initial Query
message with a large # Hops (e.g., 0xff), in order to try to trace the
full path.”
> S 3.2.4.
>      Note that Mtrace2 does not require all the routers on the path to
>      have synchronized clocks in order to measure one-way latency.
> It's not clear to me how one does this. Can you expand?
The paragraph has been modified to clarify this point.

> S 3.2.6.
>          0x01    # of the returned Standard Response Blocks
> Nit: Do you want to say 0x0001
Done, thanks.

> Also, an example of the case covered by this section would help, I think.
> S 4.4.
> It might be clearer to move this up a bit in the text as it sort of
> summarizes some cases you already covered before. It would be easier
> if it provided an overview instead.
This section is located where it is because of the sequence of operations: Query->Request->Reply.
> S 5.9.
>   In this case, the Mtrace2
>   client may receive multiple Mtrace2 Replies from different routers
>   along the path.  When this happens, the client MUST treat them as a
>   single Mtrace2 Reply message.
> Can you please describe how the client reassembles multiple messages
> into one. I think I may know how to do this, but the document should
> tell me.
The paragraph has been expanded based on this comment as follows;

"When the NO_SPACE error occurs, as described in Section 4.2, a router
 will send back an Mtrace2 Reply to the Mtrace2 client, and continue
 with a new Request (see Section 4.3.3).  In this case, the Mtrace2
 client may receive multiple Mtrace2 Replies from different routers
 along the path.  When this happens, the client MUST treat them as a
 single Mtrace2 Reply message by collating the augmented response
 blocks of subsequent replies sharing the same query ID, sequencing
 each cluster of augmented response blocks based on the order in
 which they are received."
> S 8.
>   The following new registries are to be created and maintained under
>   the "RFC Required" registry policy as specified in [4].
> Why did you choose RFC Required rather than Specification Required?
> This just seems to unduly put load on the ISE.
Agreed. The sentence has been modified based on this comment.

Addtional Note:

According to above considerations, we added a new section 9.7 as shown below;
9.7 Specific Security Concerns

  This subsection describes some of the specific security concerns and
  exposures that have been considered during the design of the Mtrace2
  protocol. Where applicable, the exposures are mapped to the
  corresponding remedy listed in the previous subsections.

9.7.1 Request and Response bombardment

  A malicious sender could generate invalid and undesirable Mtrace
  traffic to hosts and/or routers on a network by eliciting responses to
  spoofed or multicast client addresses. This could be done via forged
  or multicast client/source addresses in Mtrace Query or Request
  messages. The recommended protections against this type of attack are
  described in sections 9.1, 9.2, 9.5, and 9.6 above.

9.7.2 Amplification attack

  Because an Mtrace Query results in Mtrace Request and Mtrace Reply
  messages that are larger than the original message, the potential
  exists for an amplification attack from a malicious sender. This
  threat is minimized by restricting the set of addresses from which
  Mtrace messages can be received on a given router as specified in
  section 9.2.

9.7.3 Leaking of confidential topology details

  Mtrace queries are a potential mechanism for obtaining confidential
  topology information for a targeted network. Sections 9.2 and 9.4
  describe required and optional methods for ensuring that Mtrace
  information is not disseminated to unauthorized hosts.

9.7.4 Delivery of false mtrace information

   Forged “Reply” messages could potentially provide a host with
   invalid or incorrect topology information. This threat is mitigated
   by the following factors:

     - The required filtering of permissible source addresses specified
       in section 9.2 eliminates the origination of forged replies from
       addresses that have not been authorized to send Mtrace messages
       to routers on a given network.

     - To forge a Reply, the sender would need to somehow know the
       associated two byte query ID for an extant Query and the
       dynamically allocated source port number.