After checking what routers do when they receive a TCP SYN packet from an unknown source, I couldn’t resist checking how they cope with TCP SYN packets with too-low TTL when using TTL security, formally known as The Generalized TTL Security Mechanism (GTSM) defined in RFC 5082.
TL&DR: Not bad: most devices I managed to test did a decent job.
Today, we’ll focus on the impact of bugs in BGP implementations, from malformed AS paths to mishandled transitive attributes. The examples in the video are a few years old, but you can see similar things in the wild in 2023.
A while ago, the Networking Notes blog published a link to my “Will Network Devices Reject BGP Sessions from Unknown Sources?” blog post with a hint: use Shodan to find how many BGP routers accept a TCP session from anyone on the Internet.
The results are appalling: you can open a TCP session on port 179 with over 3 million IP addresses.
In 2022, I was invited to speak about Internet routing security at the DEEP conference in Zadar, Croatia. One of the main messages of the presentation was how slow the progress had been even though we had had all the tools available for at least a decade (RFC 7454 was finally published in 2015, and we started writing it in early 2012).
At about that same time, a small group of network operators started cooperating on improving the security and resilience of global routing, eventually resulting in the MANRS initiative – a great place to get an overview of how many Internet Service Providers care about adopting Internet routing security mechanisms.
Fortunately, those shenanigans wouldn’t spread as far today as they did in the past – according to RoVista, most of the largest networks block the prefixes Route Origin Validation (ROV) marks as invalid.
I’ll be talking about Internet routing security at the Deep conference in a few days, and just in case you won’t be able to make it1 ;) here’s the first bit of my talk: a very brief history of BGP route leaks2.
TL&DR: Violating the Betteridge’s Law of Headlines, the answer is “Yes, but the devil is in the details.”
It all started with the following observation by Minh Ha left as a comment to my previous BGP session security blog post:
I’d think it’d be obvious for BGP routers to only accept incoming sessions from configured BGP neighbors, right? Because BGP is the most critical infrastructure, the backbone of the Internet, why would you want your router to accept incoming session from anyone but KNOWN sources?
Following my “opinions are good, facts are better” mantra, I decided to run a few tests before opinionating1.
A while ago I explained how Generalized TTL Security Mechanism could be used to prevent denial-of-service attacks on routers running EBGP. Considering the results published in Analyzing the Security of BGP Message Parsing presentation from DEFCON 31 I started wondering how well GTSM implementations work.
When preparing the materials for the Design Clinic section describing Zero-Trust Network Architecture, I wondered whether I was missing something crucial. After all, I couldn’t find anything new when reading the NIST documents – we’ve seen all they’re describing 30 years ago (remember Kerberos?).
In late August I dropped by the fantastic Roundtable and Barbecue event organized by Gabi Gerber (running Security Interest Group Switzerland) and used the opportunity to join the Zero Trust Architecture roundtable. Most other participants were seasoned IT security professionals with a level of skepticism approaching mine. When I mentioned I failed to see anything new in the now-overhyped topic, they quickly expressed similar doubts.
Andrei Robachevsky asked me to spread the word about the new MANRS+ customer survey:
MANRS is conducting a survey for organizations that contract connectivity providers to learn more about if and how routing security fits into their broader supply chain security strategy. If this is your organization, or if it is your customers, we welcome you to take or share the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BDCWKNS
I hope you immediately clicked on the link and completed the survey. If you’re still here wondering what’s going on, here’s some more information from Andrei:
While preparing the Internet Routing Security webinar, I stumbled upon RFC 7908, containing an excellent taxonomy of BGP route leaks. I never checked whether it covers every possible scenario1, but I found it a handy resource when organizing my thoughts.
Let’s walk through the various leak types the authors identified using the following sample topology:
Security researches found another ICMP redirect SNAFU: a malicious wireless client can send redirects on behalf of the access point redirecting another client’s traffic to itself.
I’m pretty sure the same trick works on any layer-2 technology; the sad part of this particular story is that the spoofed ICMP packet traverses the access point, which could figure out what’s going on and drop the packet. Unfortunately, most of the access points the researchers tested were unable to do that due to limitations in the NPUs (a fancier word for SmartNIC) they were using.
Sometime last autumn, I was asked to create a short “network security challenges” presentation. Eventually, I turned it into a webinar, resulting in almost four hours of content describing the interesting gotchas I encountered in the past (plus a few recent vulnerabilities like turning WiFi into a thick yellow cable).
Each webinar section started with a short “This is why we have to deal with these stupidities” introduction. You’ll find all of them collected in the Root Causes video starting the Network Security Fallacies part of the How Networks Really Work webinar.
I mentioned IP source address validation (SAV) as one of the MANRS-recommended actions in the Internet Routing Security webinar but did not go into any details (as the webinar deals with routing security, not data-plane security)… but I stumbled upon a wonderful companion article published by RIPE Labs: Why Is Source Address Validation Still a Problem?.
The article goes through the basics of SAV, best practices, and (most interesting) using free testing tools to detect non-compliant networks. Definitely worth reading!
One of my subscribers sent me this question:
I’m being asked to enter a working group on RPKI and route origination. I’m doing research, listening to Jeff Tantsura, who seems optimistic about taking steps to improve BGP security vs Geoff Huston, who isn’t as optimistic. Should I recommend to the group that the application security is the better investment?
You need both. RPKI is slowly becoming the baseline of global routing hygiene (like washing hands, only virtual, and done once every blue moon when you get new IP address space or when the certificates expire). More and more Internet Service Providers (including many tier-1 providers) filter RPKI invalids thus preventing the worst cases of unintentional route leaks.