Too Big or Too Small? The PTB-PTS ICMP-based Attack against IPsec Gateways

Vincent Roca 1 Saikou Fall 1
1 PRIVATICS - Privacy Models, Architectures and Tools for the Information Society
Inria Grenoble - Rhône-Alpes, CITI - CITI Centre of Innovation in Telecommunications and Integration of services
Abstract : This document introduces the "Packet Too Big"-"Packet Too Small" Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) based attack against IPsec gateways. We explain how an attacker having eavesdropping and packet injection capabilities, from the unsecure network where he only sees encrypted packets, can force a gateway to reduce the Path Maximum Transmission Unit (PMTU) of an IPsec tunnel to the minimum, which can trigger severe issues for the hosts behind this gateway: with a Linux host, depending on the PMTU discovery algorithm in use (i.e., PMTUd versus PLPMTUd) and protocol (TCP versus UDP), the attack either creates a Denial of Service or major performance penalties. This attack highlights two fundamental problems, namely: (1) the impossibility to distinguish legitimate from illegitimate ICMP packets coming from the untrusted network, and (2) the contradictions in the way Path MTU is managed by some end hosts when this Path MTU is below the minimum packet size any link should support because of the IPsec encapsulation. Status of This Memo This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79. Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Note that other groups may also distribute working documents as Internet-Drafts. The list of current Internet-Drafts is at http://datatracker.ietf.org/drafts/current/. Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any time. It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."
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Vincent Roca, Saikou Fall. Too Big or Too Small? The PTB-PTS ICMP-based Attack against IPsec Gateways. 2016, pp.16. ⟨hal-01178390⟩

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