Network Working Group                                         R. Stewart
Internet-Draft                                       Cisco Systems, Inc.
Intended status: Informational                                 M. Tuexen
Expires: February 8, April 19, 2007               Muenster Univ. of Applied Sciences
                                                            G. Camarillo
                                                          August 7,
                                                        October 16, 2006

    Security Attacks Found Against SCTP and Current Countermeasures

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   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2006).


   Stream Control Transmission Protocol RFC2960 [RFC2960] defined in RFC 2960 is a multi-
   homed transport protocol.  As such, unique security threats exists
   that are addressed in various ways within the protocol itself.  This
   document attempts to detail the known security threats and there their
   countermeasures as detailed in the current version of the SCTP
   Implementors guide (SCTP-IG). RFC 4460.  It is hoped that this information will
   provide some useful background information for many of the newest
   requirements spelled out in the SCTP-IG. SCTP Implementors guide.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   2.  Address Camping or stealing  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   3.  Association hijacking 1  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
   4.  Association hijacking 2  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
   5.  Bombing attack (amplification) 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
   6.  Bombing attack (amplification) 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
   7.  Association redirection  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
   8.  Bombing attack (amplification) 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
   9.  Bombing attack (amplification) 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
   10. References Security Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
   11. IANA considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
   12. Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
   Authors' Addresses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
   Intellectual Property and Copyright Statements . . . . . . . . . . 13 14

1.  Introduction

   Stream Control Transmission Protocol RFC2960 [RFC2960] [2] is a multi-
   homed multi-homed
   transport protocol.  As such, unique security threats exists that are
   addressed in various ways within the protocol itself.  This document
   attempts to detail the known security threats and there
   countermeasures as detailed in the current version of the SCTP
   Implementors guide (SCTP-IG). (SCTP-IG [3]).  It is hoped that this information
   will provide some useful background information for many of the
   newest requirements spelled out in the SCTP-IG. SCTP-IG [3].

   This work and some of the changes that went into the tenth version of
   the SCTP-IG [3] are
   much indebted to the paper on potential SCTP security risks Effects [effects]
   [1] by Aura, Nikander and Camarillo.  Without
   there their work some of
   these changes would remain undocumented and potential threats.

   The rest of this document will concentrate on the various attacks
   that were illustrated in Effects [effects] [1] and detail what preventative
   measures are now in place within the current SCTP standards (if any).

2.  Address Camping or stealing

   This attack is a form of denial of service attack crafted around
   SCTP's multi-homing.  In effect an illegitimate endpoint connects to
   a server and "camps upon" or holds up a valid peers address.  This is
   done to prevent the legitimate peer from communicating with the

2.1.  Attack details

      +----------+            +----------+           +----------+
      | Evil     |            |  Server  |           | Client   |
      |     IP-A=+------------+=IP-X & Y=+-----------+=IP-C & D |
      | Attacker |            |          |           | Victim   |
      +----------+            +----------+           +----------+

                             Figure 1: Camping

   Consider the scenario illustrated in Figure 1.  The attacker
   legitimately holds IP-A and wishes to prevent the 'Client-Victim'
   from communication with the 'Server'.  Note also that both the client
   and server are multi-homed.  The attacker first guesses the port
   number our client uses in its association attempt.  It then uses this
   port and sets up an association with the server listing not only IP-A
   but also IP-C as well in its initial INIT chunk.  The server will
   respond and setup the association noting that the attacker is multi-
   homed holding both IP-A and IP-C.

   Next the victim sends in an INIT message listing its two valid
   addresses IP-C and IP-D.  In response it will receive an ABORT
   message with possibly an error code indicating that a new address was
   added in its attempt to setup an existing association (a restart with
   new addresses).  At this point 'Client-Victim' is now prevented from
   setting up an association with the server until the server realizes
   that the attacker does not hold the address IP-C at some future

2.2.  Errata

   This particular attack was discussed in detail on the SCTP
   implementors list in March of 2003.  Out of that discussion changes
   were made in the BSD implementation that are now present in the
   SCTP-IG [3].  In closely examination this attack depends on a number
   of specific things to occur.

   1) The attacker must setup the association before the victim and must
      correctly guess the port number that the victim will use.  If the
      victim uses any other port number the attack will fail.

   2) SCTP's existing HEARTBEAT mechanism as defined in RFC2960
      [RFC2960] [2] will
      eventually catch this situation and abort the evil attackers
      association.  This may take several seconds based on default
      HEARTBEAT timers but the attacker himself will lose any

   3) If the victim is either not multi-homed, or the address set that
      it uses is completely camped upon by the attacker (in our example
      if the attacker had included IP-D in its INIT as well), then the
      client's INIT message would restart the attackers association
      destroying it.

2.3.  Counter measure

   Version 10 of the

   SCTP-IG [3] adds a new set of requirements to better counter this
   attack.  In particular the HEARTBEAT mechanism was modified so that
   addresses unknown to an endpoint (i.e. presented in an INIT with no
   pre-knowledge given by the application) enter a new state called
   "UNCONFIRMED".  During the time that any address is UNCONFIRMED and
   yet considered available, heartbeating will be done on those
   UNCONFIRMED addresses at an accelerated rate.  This will lessen the
   time that an attacker can "camp" on an address.  In particular the
   rate of heartbeats to UNCONFIRMED addresses is done every RTO.  Along
   with this expanded rate of heartbeating, a new 64 bit random nonce is
   required to be inside HEARTBEATs to UNCONFIRMED addresses.  In the
   HEARTBEAT-ACK the random nonce MUST match the value sent in the
   HEARTBEAT before an address can leave the UNCONFIRMED state.  This
   will prevent an attacker from generating false HEARTBEAT-ACK's with
   the victims source address(es).  In addition, clients which do not
   need to use a specific port number should choose their port numbers
   on a random base.  This makes it hard for an attacker to guess that

3.  Association hijacking 1

   Association hijacking is the ability of some other user to assume the
   session created by another endpoint.  In cases of a true man-in-the-
   middle only a strong end to end security model can prevent this.
   However with the addition of the ADD-IP [5] extension to SCTP a
   endpoint that is NOT a man-in-the-middle may be able to assume
   another endpoints association.

3.1.  Attack details

   The attack is made possible by any mechanism that lets an endpoint
   acquire some other IP address that was recently in use by an SCTP
   endpoint.  For example in a mobile network DHCP may be in use with
   short IP address lifetimes to reassign IP addresses to migrant hosts.

        IP-A                 DHCP-Server's       Peer-Server
       1  |-DHCP-Rel(IP-A)---->|
       2  |------ASCONF(ADD-IP(IP-B), DEL-IP(IP-A)---->XXlost
       3  |<---Assign (IP-A)
       4  |<------------Tag:X-DATA()------------------
       5  |<------------INIT-ACK()---------------------
       6  |----ASCONF(ADD-IP(IP-Z),DEL-IP(IP-A))------>

                   Figure 2: Association Hijack via DHCP
   At point 1, our valid client releases the IP address IP-A.  It
   presumably acquires a new address (IP-B) and sends an ASCONF to ADD
   the new address and delete to old address at point 2, but this packet
   is lost.  Thus our peer (Peer-Server) has no idea that the former
   peer is no longer at IP-A.  Now at point 3 a new "evil" peer DHCP's
   an address and happens to get the re-assigned address IP-A.  Our
   Peer-Server sends a chunk of DATA at point 4.  This reveals to the
   new owner of IP-A that the former owner of IP-A had an association
   with Peer-Server.  So at point 5 the new owner of IP-A sends an INIT.
   The INIT-ACK is sent back and inside it is a COOKIE.  The cookie
   would of course hold tie-tags which would list both sets of tags
   which could then be used at point 6 to add in any other IP addresses
   that the owner of IP-A holds and thus acquire the association.

3.2.  Errata

   This attack depends on a number of events:

   1) Both endpoints must support the ADD-IP [5] extension.

   2) One of the endpoints must be using the ADD-IP [5] extension for

   3) The IP address must be acquired in such a way as to make the
      endpoint the owner of that IP address as far as the network is

   4) The true peer must not get the ASCONF packet that deletes IP-A and
      adds its new address to the peer before the new "evil" peer gets
      control of the association.

   5) The new "evil" peer must have an alternative address besides IP-A
      that it can add to the association so it can delete IP-A
      preventing the real peer from re-acquiring the association when it
      finally retransmits the ASCONF (from step 2).

3.3.  Counter measure

   The latest

   SCTP-IG [3] adds a new counter measure to this threat.  It is now
   required that Tie-Tags in the State-Cookie parameter not be the
   actual tags.  Instead a new set of two 32 bit nonce nonces must be used to
   represent the real tags within the association.  This prevents the
   attacker from acquiring the real tags and thus prevents this attack.
   Furthermore the use of the ADD-IP [5] extensions requires the use of
   the authentication mechanism defined in SCTP-AUTH
   [I-D.tuexen-sctp-auth-chunk]. [4].  This requires
   the attacker to be able to capture the traffic during the association
   setup.  If in addition an end-point pair shared key is used,
   capturing or intercepting these setup messages does not enable the
   attacker to hijack the association.

4.  Association hijacking 2

   Association hijacking is the ability of some other user to assume the
   session created by another endpoint.  In cases where an attacker can
   take over an IP-address he can easily restart the association.  If
   the peer does not pay attention to the restart notification the
   attacker has taken over the association.

4.1.  Attack details

   Assume that an endpoint E1 having an IP-address A has an SCTP
   association with endpoint E2.  After the attacker has taken over the
   IP-address A he waits for a packet from E2.  After reception of the
   packet the attacker can perform a full four way handshake using the
   the IP-addresses and port numbers from the received packet.  E2 will
   consider this as a restart of the association.  If and only if the
   SCTP user of E2 does not process the restart notification the user
   will not recognize that that association just restarted.  From his
   perspective the association has been hijacked.

4.2.  Errata

   This attack depends on a number of circumstances:

   1) The IP address must be acquired in such a way as to make the evil
      endpoint the owner of that IP address as far as the network or
      local lan is concerned.

   2) The attacker must receive a packet belonging to the association or

   3) The other endpoints user does not pay attention to restart

4.3.  Counter measure

   It is important to note that this attack is not based on a weakness
   of the protocol but on the ignorance of the upper layer.  This attack
   is not possible if the upper layer processes the restart
   notifications provided by SCTP.  Note that other IP protocols may
   also be effected by this attack.

5.  Bombing attack (amplification) 1

   The bombing attack is a method to get a server to amplify packets to
   an innocent victim.

5.1.  Attack details

   This attack is performed by setting up an association with a peer and
   listing the victims IP address in the INIT's list of addresses.
   After the association is setup, the attacker makes a request for a
   large data transfer.  After making the request the attacker does not
   acknowledge data sent to it.  This then causes the server to re-
   transmit the data to the alternate address i.e. that of the victim.
   After waiting an appropriate time period the attacker acknowledges
   the data for the victim.  At some point the attackers address is
   considered unreachable since only data sent to the victims address is
   acknowledged.  At this point the attacker can send strategic
   acknowledgments so that the server continues to send data to the

5.2.  Errata

   This attack depends on a number of circumstances:

   1) The victim must NOT support SCTP, otherwise it would respond with
      an OOTB abort.

   2) The attacker must time its sending of acknowledgments correctly in
      order to get its address into the failed state and the victims
      address as the only valid alternative.

   3) The attacker must guess TSN values that are accepted by the
      receiver once the bombing begins since it must acknowledge packets
      it no longer is seeing.

5.3.  Counter measure

   The current

   SCTP-IG [3] makes two changes to prevent this attack.  First it
   details out proper handling of ICMP messages.  With SCTP the ICMP
   messages provide valuable clues to the SCTP stack that can be
   verified with the tags for authenticity.  Proper handling of an ICMP
   protocol unreachable (or equivalent) would cause the association
   setup by the attacker to be immediately failed upon the first
   retransmission to the victims address.

   The second change made in the newest SCTP-IG [3] is the requirement that no
   address that is not CONFIRMED is allowed to have DATA chunks sent to
   it.  This prevents the switch-over to the alternate address from
   occurring even when ICMP messages are lost in the network and
   prevents any DATA chunks from being sent to any other destination
   other then the attacker itself.

   An SCTP implementation should abort the association if it receives a
   SACK acknowledging a TSN which has not been sent.  This makes TSN
   guessing for the attacker quite hard because if the attacker
   acknowledges one TSN too fast the association will be aborted.

6.  Bombing attack (amplification) 2

   This attack allows an attacker to use an arbitrary SCTP endpoint to
   send multiple packets to a victim in response to one packet.

6.1.  Attack details

   The attacker sends an INIT listing multiple IP addresses of the
   victim in the INIT's list of addresses to an arbitrary endpoint.
   Optionally it request a long cookie life time.  Upon reception of the
   INIT-ACK it stores the cookie and sends it back to the other
   endpoint.  When the other endpoint receives the COOKIE it will send
   back a COOKIE-ACK to the attacker and up to Max.Burst HEARTBEATS to
   the victim('s) (to confirm addresses).  The victim responds with
   ABORTs or ICMP messages resulting in the removal of the TCB at the
   other endpoint.  The attacker can now resend the stored cookie as
   long as it is valid and this will again result in up to Max.Burst
   HEARTBEATs sent to the victim('s).

6.2.  Errata

   The multiplication factor is limited by the number of addresses of
   the victim and of the end point Max.Burst.  Also the shorter the
   cookie life time is, the earlier the attacker has to go through the
   initial stage of sending an INIT instead of the just sending the
   COOKIE.  It should also be noted that the attack is more effective if
   large HEARTBEATs are used for path confirmation.

6.3.  Counter measure

   To limit the effectiveness of this attack and end point should

   1) not allow very large cookie lifetimes, even if they are requested.

   2) not use larger Max.Burst parameter values than recommended or
      alternatively only send one CONFIRMATION Heartbeat per RTT.  Note
      that an endpoint may decide to send only one Heartbeat per RTT
      instead of the maximum (i.e.  Max.Burst).  An endpoint that
      chooses this approach will however slow down detection of
      endpoints camping on valid addresses.

   3) not use large HEARTBEATs for path confirmation.

7.  Association redirection

   This attack allows an attacker to mis-setup an association to a
   different endpoint.

7.1.  Attack details

   The attacker sends an INIT sourced from port 'X' and directed towards
   port 'Y'.  When the INIT-ACK is returned the attacker sends the
   COOKIE-ECHO chunk and either places a different destination or source
   port in the SCTP common header i.e.  X+1 or Y+1.  This then set's up
   the association with possibly other endpoints.

7.2.  Errata

   This attack depends on the failure of an SCTP implementation to store
   and verify the ports within the COOKIE structure.

7.3.  Counter measure

   This attack is easily defeated by an implementation including the
   ports of both the source and destination within the COOKIE.  When the
   COOKIE is returned if the source and destination ports do not match
   those within the COOKIE chunk, the SCTP implementation silently
   discards the invalid COOKIE.

8.  Bombing attack (amplification) 3

   This attack allows an attacker to use an SCTP endpoint to send a
   large number of packets in response to one packet.

8.1.  Attack details

   The attacker sends a packet to an SCTP endpoint which requires the
   sending of multiple chunks.  If the SCTP endpoint does not support
   bundling on the sending side it might send each chunk per packet.
   These packets can either be sent to a victim by using the victim's
   address as the sources address or it can be considered an attack
   against the network.  Since the chunks which need to be send in
   response to the received packet may not fit into one packet an
   endpoint supporting bundling on the sending side might send multiple

   Examples of these packets are packets containing a lot of unkown unknown
   chunks which require an ERROR chunk to be sent, known chunks which
   initiate the sending of ERROR chunks, packets containing a lot of
   HEARTBEAT chunks and so on.

8.2.  Errata

   This attack depends on the fact that the SCTP endpoint does not
   support bundling on the sending side or provides a bad implementation
   of bundling on the sending side.

8.3.  Counter measure

   First of all, path verification must happen before sending other
   chunks then HEARTBEATs for path verification.  This makes sure that
   the above attack can not be used against other hosts.  To avoid the
   attack, an SCTP endpoint should implement bundling on the sending
   side and should not send multiple packets in response.  If the SCTP
   endpoint does not support bundling on the sending side it should not
   send in general more than one packet in response to a received one.
   The details of the required handling are described in the IG. SCTP-IG

9.  Bombing attack (amplification) 4

   This attack allows an attacker to use an SCTP server to send a larger
   packets to a victim than it sent to the SCTP server.

9.1.  Attack details

   The attacker sends packets using the victim's address as the source
   address containing an INIT chunk to an SCTP Server.  The server then
   sends an packet containing an INIT-ACK chunk to the victim, which is
   most likely larger than the packet containing the INIT.

9.2.  Errata

   This attack is a byte and not a packet amplification attack and
   without protocol changes hard to avoid.  A possible method would be
   the usage of the PAD parameter defined in SCTP-PAD [6].

9.3.  Counter measure

   A server should be implemented in a way that the generated INIT-ACK
   chunks are as small as possible.

10.  Security Considerations

   This document is about security and there is nothing to be added to
   it in this section.

11.  IANA considerations

   There are no actions required from IANA.

12.  Informative References


   [1]  Aura, T., Nikander, P., and G. Camarillo, "Effects of Mobility
        and Multihoming on Transport-Layer Security", December 2003.


   [2]  Stewart, R., Xie, Q., Morneault, K., Sharp, C., Schwarzbauer,
        H., Taylor, T., Rytina, I., Kalla, M., Zhang, L., and V. Paxson,
        "Stream Control Transmission Protocol", RFC 2960, October 2000.


   [3]  Stewart, R., Arias-Rodriguez, I., Poon, K., Caro, A., and M.
        Tuexen, "Stream Control Transmission Protocol (SCTP)
        Specification Errata and Issues", RFC 4460, April 2006.

   [4]  Tuexen, M., Stewart, R., Lei, P., and E. Rescorla,
        "Authenticated Chunks for Stream Control Transmission Protocol
        (SCTP)", draft-tuexen-sctp-auth-chunk-03 draft-ietf-tsvwg-sctp-auth (work in progress),
        September 2006.

   [5]  Stewart, R., "Stream Control Transmission Protocol (SCTP)
        Dynamic Address  Reconfiguration",
        draft-ietf-tsvwg-addip-sctp-15 (work in progress), June 2006.

   [6]  Tuexen, M., "Padding Chunk and Parameter for SCTP",
        draft-ietf-tsvwg-sctp-padding-01 (work in progress), February 2005.
        September 2006.

Authors' Addresses

   Randall R. Stewart
   Cisco Systems, Inc.
   4785 Forest Drive
   Suite 200
   Columbia, SC  29206


   Michael Tuexen
   Muenster Univ. of Applied Sciences
   Stegerwaldstr. 39
   48565 Steinfurt


   Gonzalo Camarillo
   Hirsalantie 11
   Jorvas  02420


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