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RFC 2521 - ICMP Security Failures Messages


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Network Working Group                                            P. Karn
Request for Comments: 2521                                      Qualcomm
Category: Experimental                                        W. Simpson
                                                              DayDreamer
                                                              March 1999

                    ICMP Security Failures Messages

Status of this Memo

   This document defines an Experimental Protocol for the Internet
   community.  It does not specify an Internet standard of any kind.
   Discussion and suggestions for improvement are requested.
   Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1999).  Copyright (C) Philip Karn
   and William Allen Simpson (1994-1999).  All Rights Reserved.

Abstract

   This document specifies ICMP messages for indicating failures when
   using IP Security Protocols (AH and ESP).

Table of Contents

     1.     Introduction ..........................................    1

     2.     Message Formats .......................................    1
        2.1       Bad SPI .........................................    2
        2.2       Authentication Failed ...........................    2
        2.3       Decompression Failed ............................    2
        2.4       Decryption Failed ...............................    2
        2.5       Need Authentication .............................    3
        2.6       Need Authorization ..............................    3

     3.     Error Procedures ......................................    3

     SECURITY CONSIDERATIONS ......................................    4

     HISTORY ......................................................    5

     ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .............................................    5

     REFERENCES ...................................................    5

     CONTACTS .....................................................    6

     COPYRIGHT ....................................................    7

1.  Introduction

   This mechanism is intended for use with the Internet Security
   Protocols [RFC-1825 et sequitur] for authentication and privacy.  For
   statically configured Security Associations, these messages indicate
   that the operator needs to manually reconfigure, or is attempting an
   unauthorized operation.  These messages may also be used to trigger
   automated session-key management.

   The datagram format and basic facilities are already defined for ICMP
   [RFC-792].

   Up-to-date values of the ICMP Type field are specified in the most
   recent "Assigned Numbers" [RFC-1700].  This document concerns the
   following values:

       40  Security Failures

2.  Message Formats

   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
   |     Type      |     Code      |          Checksum             |
   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
   |           Reserved            |          Pointer              |
   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
   |                                                               |
   ~     Original Internet Headers + 64 bits of Payload            ~
   |                                                               |
   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+

   Type              40

   Code             Indicates the kind of failure:

                      0 = Bad SPI
                      1 = Authentication Failed
                      2 = Decompression Failed
                      3 = Decryption Failed
                      4 = Need Authentication
                      5 = Need Authorization

   Checksum         Two octets.  The ICMP Checksum.

   Reserved         Two octets.  For future use; MUST be set to zero

                    when transmitted, and MUST be ignored when received.

   Pointer          Two octets.  An offset into the Original Internet
                    Headers that locates the most significant octet of
                    the offending SPI.  Will be zero when no SPI is
                    present.

   Original Internet Headers ...
                    The original Internet Protocol header, any
                    intervening headers up to and including the
                    offending SPI (if any), plus the first 64 bits (8
                    octets) of the remaining payload data.

                    This data is used by the host to match the message
                    to the appropriate process.  If a payload protocol
                    uses port numbers, they are assumed to be in the
                    first 64-bits of the original datagram's payload.

   Usage of this message is elaborated in the following sections.

2.1.  Bad SPI

   Indicates that a received datagram includes a Security Parameters
   Index (SPI) that is invalid or has expired.

2.2.  Authentication Failed

   Indicates that a received datagram failed the authenticity or
   integrity check for a given SPI.

   Note that the SPI may indicate an outer Encapsulating Security
   Protocol when a separate Authentication Header SPI is hidden inside.

2.3.  Decompression Failed

   Indicates that a received datagram failed a decompression check for a
   given SPI.

2.4.  Decryption Failed

   Indicates that a received datagram failed a decryption check for a
   given SPI.

2.5.  Need Authentication

   Indicates that a received datagram will not be accepted without
   additional authentication.

   In this case, either no SPI is present, or an unsuitable SPI is
   present.  For example, an encryption SPI without integrity arrives
   from a secure operating system with mutually suspicious users.

2.6.  Need Authorization

   Indicates that a received datagram will not be accepted because it
   has insufficient authorization.

   In this case, an authentication SPI is present that is inappropriate
   for the target transport or application.  The principle party denoted
   by the SPI does not have proper authorization for the facilities used
   by the datagram.  For example, the party is authorized for Telnet
   access, but not for FTP access.

3.  Error Procedures

   As is usual with ICMP messages, upon receipt of one of these error
   messages that is uninterpretable or otherwise contains an error, no
   ICMP error message is sent in response.  Instead, the message is
   silently discarded.  However, for diagnosis of problems, a node
   SHOULD provide the capability of logging the error, including the
   contents of the silently discarded datagram, and SHOULD record the
   event in a statistics counter.

   On receipt, special care MUST be taken that the ICMP message actually
   includes information that matches a previously sent IP datagram.
   Otherwise, this might provide an opportunity for a denial of service
   attack.

   The sending implementation MUST be able to limit the rate at which
   these messages are generated.  The rate limit parameters SHOULD be
   configurable.  How the limits are applied (such as, by destination or
   per interface) is left to the implementor's discretion.

Security Considerations

   When a prior Security Association between the parties has not
   expired, these messages SHOULD be sent with authentication.

   However, the node MUST NOT dynamically establish a new Security
   Association for the sole purpose of authenticating these messages.
   Automated key management is computationally intensive.  This could be
   used for a very serious denial of service attack.  It would be very
   easy to swamp a target with bogus SPIs from random IP Sources, and
   have it start up numerous useless key management sessions to
   authentically inform the putative sender.

   In the event of loss of state (such as a system crash), the node will
   need to send failure messages to all parties that attempt subsequent
   communication.  In this case, the node may have lost the key
   management technique that was used to establish the Security
   Association.

   Much better to simply let the peers know that there was a failure,
   and let them request key management as needed (at their staggered
   timeouts).  They'll remember the previous key management technique,
   and restart gracefully.  This distributes the restart burden among
   systems, and helps allow the recently failed node to manage its
   computational resources.

   In addition, these messages inform the recipient when the ICMP sender
   is under attack.  Unlike other ICMP error messages, the messages
   provide sufficient data to determine that these messages are in
   response to previously sent messages.

   Therefore, it is imperative that the recipient accept both
   authenticated and unauthenticated failure messages.  The recipient's
   log SHOULD indicate when the ICMP messages are not validated, and
   when the ICMP messages are not in response to a valid previous
   message.

   There is some concern that sending these messages may result in the
   leak of security information.  For example, an attacker might use
   these messages to test or verify potential forged keys.  However,
   this information is already available through the simple expedient of
   using Echo facilities, or waiting for a TCP 3-way handshake.

   The rate limiting mechanism also limits this form of leak, as many
   messages will not result in an error indication.  At the very least,
   this will lengthen the time factor for verifying such information.

History

   The text has been extensively reviewed on the IP Security mailing
   list, in January and February of 1995 and again in December 1995.
   The specification is stable, and was forwarded to the IESG by the
   authors for IETF Last Call as a Proposed Standard in March 1996.
   There have been several implementations.

Acknowledgements

   Some of the text of this specification was derived from "Requirements
   for Internet Hosts -- Communication Layers" [RFC-1122] and
   "Requirements for IP Version 4 Routers" [RFC-1812].

   Naganand Doraswamy and Hilarie Orman provided useful critiques of
   earlier versions of this document.

   Stimulating comments were also received from Jeffrey Schiller.

   Special thanks to the Center for Information Technology Integration
   (CITI) for providing computing resources.

References

   [RFC-792]   Postel, J., "Internet Control Message Protocol", STD 5,
               September 1981.

   [RFC-1122]  Braden, R., Editor, "Requirements for Internet Hosts --
               Communication Layers", STD 3, USC/Information Sciences
               Institute, October 1989.

   [RFC-1700]  Reynolds, J., and Postel, J., "Assigned Numbers", STD 2,
               USC/Information Sciences Institute, October 1994.

   [RFC-1812]  Baker, F., Editor, "Requirements for IP Version 4
               Routers", Cisco Systems, June 1995.

   [RFC-1825]  Atkinson, R., "Security Architecture for the Internet
               Protocol", Naval Research Laboratory, July 1995.

Contacts

   Comments about this document should be discussed on the
   photuris@adk.gr mailing list.

   Questions about this document can also be directed to:

      Phil Karn
      Qualcomm, Inc.
      6455 Lusk Blvd.
      San Diego, California  92121-2779

          karn@qualcomm.com
          karn@unix.ka9q.ampr.org (preferred)

      William Allen Simpson
      DayDreamer
      Computer Systems Consulting Services
      1384 Fontaine
      Madison Heights, Michigan  48071

          wsimpson@UMich.edu
          wsimpson@GreenDragon.com (preferred)

Full Copyright Statement

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1999).  Copyright (C) Philip
   Karn and William Allen Simpson (1994-1999).  All Rights Reserved.

   This document and translations of it may be copied and furnished to
   others, and derivative works that comment on or otherwise explain
   it or assist in its implementation may be prepared, copied,
   published and distributed, in whole or in part, without restriction
   of any kind, provided that the above copyright notice and this
   paragraph are included on all such copies and derivative works.
   However, this document itself may not be modified in any way, such
   as by removing the copyright notice or references to the Internet
   Society or other Internet organizations, except as needed for the
   purpose of developing Internet standards (in which case the
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   must be followed), or as required to translate it into languages
   other than English.

   The limited permissions granted above are perpetual and will not be
   revoked by the Internet Society or its successors or assigns.

   This document and the information contained herein is provided on an
   "AS IS" basis and THE INTERNET SOCIETY AND THE INTERNET ENGINEERING
   TASK FORCE DISCLAIM ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING
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