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RFC 2890 - Key and Sequence Number Extensions to GRE


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Network Working Group                                          G. Dommety
Request for Comments: 2890                                  Cisco Systems
Category: Standards Track                                  September 2000

               Key and Sequence Number Extensions to GRE

Status of this Memo

   This document specifies an Internet standards track protocol for the
   Internet community, and requests discussion and suggestions for
   improvements.  Please refer to the current edition of the "Internet
   Official Protocol Standards" (STD 1) for the standardization state
   and status of this protocol.  Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2000).  All Rights Reserved.

Abstract

   GRE (Generic Routing Encapsulation) specifies a protocol for
   encapsulation of an arbitrary protocol over another arbitrary network
   layer protocol. This document describes extensions by which two
   fields, Key and Sequence Number, can be optionally carried in the GRE
   Header [1].

1. Introduction

   The current specification of Generic Routing Encapsulation [1]
   specifies a protocol for encapsulation of an arbitrary protocol over
   another arbitrary network layer protocol. This document describes
   enhancements by which two fields, Key and Sequence Number, can be
   optionally carried in the GRE Header [1]. The Key field is intended
   to be used for identifying an individual traffic flow within a
   tunnel. The Sequence Number field is used to maintain sequence of
   packets within the GRE Tunnel.

1.1. Specification Language

   The keywords "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this
   document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119 [3].

   In addition, the following words are used to signify the requirements
   of the specification.

   Silently discard
                The implementation discards the datagram without further
                processing, and without indicating an error to the
                sender.  The implementation SHOULD provide the
                capability of logging the error, including the contents
                of the discarded datagram, and SHOULD record the event
                in a statistics counter.

2. Extensions to GRE Header

   The GRE packet header[1] has the following format:

     0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
    +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
    |C|       Reserved0       | Ver |         Protocol Type         |
    +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
    |      Checksum (optional)      |       Reserved1 (Optional)    |
    +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+

   The proposed GRE header will have the following format:

    0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
   |C| |K|S| Reserved0       | Ver |         Protocol Type         |
   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
   |      Checksum (optional)      |       Reserved1 (Optional)    |
   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
   |                         Key (optional)                        |
   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
   |                 Sequence Number (Optional)                    |
   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+

     Key Present (bit 2)

     If the Key Present bit is set to 1, then it indicates that the
     Key field is present in the GRE header.  Otherwise, the Key
     field is not present in the GRE header.

     Sequence Number Present (bit 3)

     If the Sequence Number Present bit is set to 1, then it
     indicates that the Sequence Number field is present.
     Otherwise, the Sequence Number field is not present in the GRE
     header.

     The Key and the Sequence Present bits are chosen to be
     compatible with RFC 1701 [2].

2.1. Key Field (4 octets)

   The Key field contains a four octet number which was inserted by the
   encapsulator. The actual method by which this Key is obtained is
   beyond the scope of the document. The Key field is intended to be
   used for identifying an individual traffic flow within a tunnel. For
   example, packets may need to be routed based on context information
   not present in the encapsulated data.  The Key field provides this
   context and defines a logical traffic flow between encapsulator and
   decapsulator.  Packets belonging to a traffic flow are encapsulated
   using the same Key value and the decapsulating tunnel endpoint
   identifies packets belonging to a traffic flow based on the Key Field
   value.

2.2. Sequence Number (4 octets)

   The Sequence Number field is a four byte field and is inserted by the
   encapsulator when Sequence Number Present Bit is set. The Sequence
   Number MUST be used by the receiver to establish the order in which
   packets have been transmitted from the encapsulator to the receiver.
   The intended use of the Sequence Field is to provide unreliable but
   in-order delivery. If the Key present bit (bit 2) is set, the
   sequence number is specific to the traffic flow identified by the Key
   field. Note that packets without the sequence bit set can be
   interleaved with packets with the sequence bit set.

   The sequence number value ranges from 0 to (2**32)-1. The first
   datagram is sent with a sequence number of 0. The sequence number is
   thus a free running counter represented modulo 2**32.  The receiver
   maintains the sequence number value of the last successfully
   decapsulated packet. Upon establishment of the GRE tunnel, this value
   should be set to (2**32)-1.

   When the decapsulator receives an out-of sequence packet it SHOULD be
   silently discarded. A packet is considered an out-of-sequence packet
   if the sequence number of the received packet is less than or equal
   to the sequence number of last successfully decapsulated packet. The
   sequence number of a received message is considered less than or
   equal to the last successfully received sequence number if its value
   lies in the range of the last received sequence number and the
   preceding 2**31-1 values, inclusive.

   If the received packet is an in-sequence packet, it is successfully
   decapsulated. An in-sequence packet is one with a sequence number
   exactly 1 greater than (modulo 2**32) the last successfully
   decapsulated packet, or one in which the sequence number field is not
   present (S bit not set).

   If the received packet is neither an in-sequence nor an out-of-
   sequence packet it indicates a sequence number gap. The receiver may
   perform a small amount of buffering in an attempt to recover the
   original sequence of transmitted packets. In this case, the packet
   may be placed in a buffer sorted by sequence number.  If an in-
   sequence packet is received and successfully decapsulated, the
   receiver should consult the head of this buffer to see if the next
   in-sequence packet has already been received. If so, the receiver
   should decapsulate it as well as the following in-sequence packets
   that may be present in the buffer. The "last successfully
   decapsulated sequence number" should then be set to the last packet
   that was decapsulated from the buffer.

   Under no circumstances should a packet wait more that
   OUTOFORDER_TIMER milliseconds in the buffer.  If a packet has been
   waiting that long, the receiver MUST immediately traverse the buffer
   in sorted order, decapsulating packets (and ignoring any sequence
   number gaps) until there are no more packets in the buffer that have
   been waiting longer than OUTOFORDER_TIMER milliseconds. The "last
   successfully decapsulated sequence number" should then be set to the
   last packet so decapsulated.

   The receiver may place a limit on the number of packets in any per-
   flow buffer (Packets with the same Key Field value belong to a flow).
   If a packet arrives that would cause the receiver to place more than
   MAX_PERFLOW_BUFFER packets into a given buffer, then the packet at
   the head of the buffer is immediately decapsulated regardless of its
   sequence number and the "last successfully decapsulated sequence
   number" is set to its sequence number. The newly arrived packet may
   then be placed in the buffer.

   Note that the sequence number is used to detect lost packets and/or
   restore the original sequence of packets (with buffering) that may
   have been reordered during transport.  Use of the sequence number
   option should be used appropriately; in particular, it is a good idea
   a avoid using when tunneling protocols that have higher layer in-
   order delivery mechanisms or are tolerant to out-of-order delivery.
   If only at certain instances the protocol being carried in the GRE
   tunnel requires in-sequence delivery, only the corresponding packets
   encapsulated in a GRE header can be sent with the sequence bit set.

   Reordering of out-of sequence packets MAY be performed by the
   decapsulator for improved performance and tolerance to reordering in
   the network.  A small amount of reordering buffer
   (MAX_PERFLOW_BUFFER) may help in improving performance when the
   higher layer employs stateful compression or encryption. Since the
   state of the stateful compression or encryption is reset by packet
   loss, it might help the performance to tolerate some small amount of

   packet reordering in the network by buffering.

3. Security Considerations

   This document describes extensions by which two fields, Key and
   Sequence Number, can be optionally carried in the GRE (Generic
   Routing Encapsulation) Header [1].  When using the Sequence number
   field, it is possible to inject packets with an arbitrary Sequence
   number and launch a Denial of Service attack.  In order to protect
   against such attacks, IP security protocols [4] MUST be used to
   protect the GRE header and the tunneled payload.  Either ESP
   (Encapsulating Security Payload) [5] or AH (Authentication Header)[6]
   MUST be used to protect the GRE header.  If ESP is used it protects
   the IP payload which includes the GRE header. If AH is used the
   entire packet other than the mutable fields are authenticated. Note
   that Key field is not involved in any sort or security (despite its
   name).

4. IANA Considerations

   This document does not require any allocations by the IANA and
   therefore does not have any new IANA considerations.

5. Acknowledgments

   This document is derived from the original ideas of the authors of
   RFC 1701. Kent Leung, Pete McCann, Mark Townsley, David Meyer,
   Yingchun Xu, Ajoy Singh and many others provided useful discussion.
   The author would like to thank all the above people.

6. References

   [1] Farinacci, D., Li, T., Hanks, S., Meyer, D. and P. Traina,
       "Generic Routing Encapsulation (GRE)", RFC 2784, March 2000.

   [2] Hanks, S., Li, T, Farinacci, D., and P. Traina, "Generic Routing
       Encapsulation", RFC 1701, October 1994.

   [3] Bradner S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement
       Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.

   [4] Kent, S. and R. Atkinson, "Security Architecture for the Internet
       Protocol", RFC 2401, November 1998.

   [5] Kent, S. and R. Atkinson, "IP Encapsulating Security Payload
       (ESP)", RFC 2406, November 1998.

   [6] Kent, S., and R. Atkinson, " IP Authentication Header", RFC 2402,
       November 1998.

Author's Address

   Gopal Dommety
   Cisco Systems, Inc.
   170 West Tasman Drive
   San Jose, CA 95134

   EMail: gdommety@cisco.com

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Acknowledgement

   Funding for the RFC Editor function is currently provided by the
   Internet Society.

 

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