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Category: security

Building a Separate Infrastructure for Guest Access

One of my readers sent me an age-old question:

I have my current guest network built on top of my production network. The separation between guest- and corporate network is done using a VLAN – once you connect to the wireless guest network, you’re in guest VLAN that forwards your packets to a guest router and off toward the Internet.

Our security team claims that this design is not secure enough. They claim a user would be able to attach somehow to the switch and jump between VLANs, suggesting that it would be better to run guest access over a separate physical network.

Decades ago, VLAN implementations were buggy, and it was possible (using a carefully crafted stack of VLAN tags) to insert packets from one VLAN to another (see also: VLAN hopping).

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Soap Opera: SRv6 Is Insecure

I heard about SRv6 when it was still on the drawing board, and my initial reaction was “Another attempt to implement source routing. We know how that ends.” The then-counter-argument by one of the proponents went along the lines of “but we’ll use signed headers to prevent abuse” and I thought “yeah, that will work really well in silicon implementations”.

Years later, Andrew Alston decided to document the state of the emperor’s wardrobe (TL&DR: of course SRv6 is insecure and can be easily abused) and the counter-argument this time was “but that applies to any tunnel technology”. Thank you, we knew that all along, and that’s not what was promised.

You might want to browse the rest of that email thread; it’s fun reading unless you built your next-generation network design on SRv6 running across third-party networks… which was another PowerPoint case study used by SRv6 proponents.

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Why Does DHCPv6 Matter?

In case you missed it, there’s a new season of Lack of DHCPv6 on Android soap opera on v6ops mailing list. Before going into the juicy details, I wanted to look at the big picture: why would anyone care about lack of DHCPv6 on Android?

Please note that I’m not a DHCPv6 fan. DHCPv6 is just a tool not unlike sink plunger – nobody loves it (I hope), but when you need it, you better have it handy.

The requirements for DHCPv6-based address allocation come primarily from enterprise environments facing legal/compliance/other layer 8-10 reasons to implement policy (are you allowed to use the network), control (we want to decide who uses the network) and attribution (if something bad happens, we want to know who did it).

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State of IT Security in 2021

Patrik Schindler sent me his views on code quality and resulting security nightmares after reading the Cisco SD-WAN SQL Injection saga. Enjoy!


I think we have a global problem with code quality. Both from a security perspective, and from a less problematic but still annoying bugs-everywhere perspective. I’m not sure if the issue is largely ignored, or we’ve given up on it (see also: Cloud Complexity Lies or Cisco ACI Complexity).

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Another SD-WAN Security SNAFU: SQL Injections in Cisco SD-WAN Admin Interface

Christoph Jaggi sent me a link to an interesting article describing security vulnerabilities pentesters found in Cisco SD-WAN admin/management code.

I’m positive the bugs have been fixed in the meantime, but what riled me most was the root cause: Little Bobby Tables (aka SQL injection) dropped by. Come on, it’s 2021, SD-WAN is supposed to be about building secure replacements for MPLS/VPN networks, and they couldn’t get someone who could write SQL-injection-safe code (the top web application security risk)?

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MUST Read: Operational Security Considerations for IPv6 Networks (RFC 9099)

After almost a decade of bickering and haggling (trust me, I got my scars to prove how the consensus building works), the authors of Operational Security Considerations for IPv6 Networks (many of them dear old friends I haven’t seen for way too long) finally managed to turn a brilliant document into an Informational RFC.

Regardless of whether you already implemented IPv6 in your network or believe it will never be production-ready (alongside other crazy stuff like vaccines) I’d consider this RFC a mandatory reading.

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Claim: You Don't Have to Be a Networking Expert to Do Kubernetes Network Security

I was listening to an excellent container networking podcast and enjoyed it thoroughly until the guest said something along the lines of:

With Kubernetes networking policy, you no longer have to be a networking expert to do container network security.

That’s not even wrong. You didn’t have to be a networking expert to write traffic filtering rules for ages.

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Worth Reading: Internet of Trash

I love the recent Internet of Trash article by Geoff Huston, in particular this bit:

“Move fast and break things” is not a tenable paradigm for this industry today, if it ever was. In the light of our experience with the outcomes of an industry that became fixated on pumping out minimally viable product, it’s a paradigm that heads towards what we would conventionally label as criminal negligence.

Of course it’s not just the Internet-of-Trash. Whole IT is filled with examples of startups and “venerable” companies doing the same thing and boasting about their disruptiveness. Now go and read the whole article ;)

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Worth Reading: AAA Deep Dive on Cisco Devices

Decades ago I understood the intricacies of AAA on Cisco IOS. These days I wing it and keep throwing spaghetti at the virtual wall until something sticks and I can log in (after all, it’s all in a lab, and I’m interested in routing protocols not interactions with TACACS+ server).

If you’re experiencing similar challenges you might appreciate AAA Deep Dive on Cisco Devices by the one and only Daniel Dib.

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Automation Win: Chatops-Based Security

It’s amazing how quickly you can deploy new functionality once you have a solid foundation in place. In his latest blog post Adrian Giacometti described how he implemented a security solution that allows network operators to block source IP addresses (identified by security tools) across dozens of firewalls using a bot listening to a Slack channel.

Would you be surprised if I told you we covered similar topics in our automation course? 😇

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Considerations for Host-based Firewalls (Part 2)

This is a guest blog post by Matthias Luft, Principal Platform Security Engineer @ Salesforce, and a regular ipSpace.net guest speaker.

A couple of months ago I had the pleasure to publish my first guest post here and, as to be expected from ipspace.net, it triggered some great discussion.

With this input and some open thoughts from the last post, I want to dive into a few more topics.

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Fun Times: Another Broken Linux ALG

Dealing with protocols that embed network-layer addresses into application-layer messages (like FTP or SIP) is great fun, more so if the said protocol traverses a NAT device that has to find the IP addresses embedded in application messages while translating the addresses in IP headers. For whatever reason, the content rewriting functionality is called application-level gateway (ALG).

Even when we’re faced with a monstrosity like FTP or SIP that should have been killed with napalm a microsecond after it was created, there’s a proper way of doing things and a fast way of doing things. You could implement a protocol-level proxy that would intercept control-plane sessions… or you could implement a hack that tries to snoop TCP payload without tracking TCP session state.

Not surprisingly, the fast way of doing things usually results in a wonderful attack surface, more so if the attacker is smart enough to construct HTTP requests that look like SIP messages. Enjoy ;)

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Building Secure Layer-2 Data Center Fabric with Cisco Nexus Switches

One of my readers is designing a layer-2-only data center fabric (no SVI interfaces on switches) with stringent security requirements using Cisco Nexus switches, and he wondered whether a host connected to such a fabric could attack a switch, and whether it would be possible to reach the management network in that way.

Do you think it’s possible to reach the MANAGEMENT PLANE from the DATA PLANE? Is it valid to think that there is a potential attack vector that someone can compromise to source traffic from the front of the device (ASIC) through the PCI bus across the CPU to the across the PCI bus to the Platform Controller Hub through the I/O card to spew out the Management Port onto that out-of-band network?

My initial answer was “of course there’s always a conduit from the switching ASIC to the CPU, how would you handle STP/CDP/LLDP otherwise”. I also asked Lukas Krattiger for more details; here’s what he sent me:

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