Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) L. Ginsberg
Request for Comments: 7987 P. Wells
Category: Standards Track Cisco Systems
ISSN: 2070-1721 B. Decraene
IS-IS Minimum Remaining Lifetime
Corruption of the Remaining Lifetime field in a Link State Protocol
Data Unit (LSP) can go undetected. In certain scenarios, this may
cause or exacerbate flooding storms. It is also a possible denial-
of-service attack vector. This document defines a backwards-
compatible solution to this problem.
Status of This Memo
This is an Internet Standards Track document.
This document is a product of the Internet Engineering Task Force
(IETF). It represents the consensus of the IETF community. It has
received public review and has been approved for publication by the
Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG). Further information on
Internet Standards is available in Section 2 of RFC 7841.
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Table of Contents
1. Problem Statement ...............................................3
1.1. Requirements Language ......................................4
2. Solution ........................................................4
3. Deployment Considerations .......................................5
3.1. Inconsistent Values for MaxAge .............................5
3.2. Reporting Corrupted Lifetime ...............................6
3.3. Impact of Delayed LSP Purging ..............................7
4. Security Considerations .........................................7
5. References ......................................................7
5.1. Normative References .......................................7
5.2. Informative References .....................................8
Authors' Addresses .................................................9
1. Problem Statement
[ISO10589] defines the format of a Link State PDU (LSP) that includes
a Remaining Lifetime field. This field is set by the originator
based on local configuration and then decremented by all systems once
the entry is stored in their LSP Database (LSPDB) consistent with the
passing of time. This allows all Intermediate Systems (ISs) to age
out the LSP at approximately the same time.
Each LSP also has a checksum field to allow receiving systems to
detect errors that may have occurred during transmission. [ISO10589]
mandates that the checksum is calculated by the originator of the LSP
and cannot be modified by other routers. Therefore, the Remaining
Lifetime is deliberately excluded from the checksum calculation. In
cases where cryptographic authentication is included in an LSP
([RFC5304] or [RFC5310]), the Remaining Lifetime field is also
excluded from the hash calculation. If the Remaining Lifetime field
gets corrupted during flooding, this corruption is therefore
undetectable. The consequences of such corruption depend upon how
the Remaining Lifetime is altered.
In cases where the Remaining Lifetime becomes larger than the
originator intended, the impact is benign. As the originator is
responsible for refreshing the LSP before it ages out, a new version
of the LSP will be generated before the LSP ages out, so no harm is
In cases where the Remaining Lifetime field becomes smaller than the
originator intended, the LSP may age out prematurely (i.e., before
the originator refreshes the LSP). This has two negative
1. The LSP will be purged by an IS when the Remaining Lifetime
expires. This will cause a temporary loss of reachability to
destinations impacted by the content of that LSP.
2. Unnecessary LSP flooding will occur as a result of the premature
purge and subsequent regeneration/flooding of a new version of
the LSP by the originator.
If the corrupted Remaining Lifetime is only modestly shorter than the
lifetime assigned by the originator, the negative impacts are also
modest. If, however, the corrupted Remaining Lifetime becomes very
small, then the negative impacts can become significant, especially
in cases where the cause of the corruption is persistent so that the
cycle repeats itself frequently.
A backwards-compatible solution to this problem is defined in the
1.1. Requirements Language
The key words "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 [RFC2119].
As discussed in the previous section, the problematic case is when
the Remaining Lifetime is corrupted and becomes much smaller than it
should be. The goal of the solution is then to prevent premature
Under normal circumstances, updates to an LSP -- including purging,
if appropriate -- are the responsibility of the originator of the
LSP. There is a maximum time between generations of a given LSP.
Once this time has expired, it is the responsibility of the
originator to refresh the LSP (i.e., issue a new version with a
higher sequence number) even if the contents of the LSP have not
changed. [ISO10589] defines maximumLSPGenerationInterval to be
sufficiently less than the maximum lifetime of an LSP so that the new
version can be flooded network wide before the old version ages out
on any IS.
[ISO10589] defines two cases where a system other than the originator
of an LSP is allowed to purge an LSP:
1. The LSP ages out. This should only occur if the originating IS
is no longer reachable and therefore is unable to update the LSP.
2. There is a Designated Intermediate System (DIS) change on a LAN.
The pseudonode LSPs generated by the previous DIS are no longer
required and may be purged by the new DIS.
In both of these cases, purging is not necessary for correct
operation of the protocol. It is provided as an optimization to
remove stale entries from the LSPDB.
In cases where the Remaining Lifetime in a received LSP has been
corrupted and is smaller than the Remaining Lifetime at the
originating node, when the Remaining Lifetime expires on the
receiving node, it can appear as if the originating IS has failed to
regenerate the LSP before it ages out (case #1 above). To prevent
this from having a negative impact, a modest change to the storage of
"new" LSPs in the LSPDB is specified.
Section 7.3.16 of [ISO10589] defines the rules to determine whether a
received LSP is older, the same, or newer than the copy of the same
LSP in the receiver's LSPDB. The key elements are:
o Higher sequence numbers are newer.
o If sequence numbers are the same, an LSP with a zero Remaining
Lifetime (a purged LSP) is newer than the same LSP with a non-zero
o If both the received and local copy of the LSP have a non-zero
Remaining Lifetime, they are considered the same even if the
Remaining Lifetimes differ.
Section 184.108.40.206.e(1) of [ISO10589] defines the actions to take on
receipt of an LSP generated by another IS that is newer than the
local copy and has a non-zero Remaining Lifetime. An additional
action is defined by this document:
vi. If the Remaining Lifetime of the new LSP is less than MaxAge, it
is set to MaxAge.
This additional action ensures that no matter what value of Remaining
Lifetime is received, a system other than the originator of an LSP
will never purge the LSP until the LSP has existed in the database
for at least MaxAge.
It is important to note that no change is proposed for handling the
receipt of purged LSPs. The rules specified in Section 220.127.116.11.b of
[ISO10589] still apply, i.e., an LSP received with a zero Remaining
Lifetime is still considered newer than a matching LSP with a non-
zero Remaining Lifetime. Therefore, the changes proposed here will
not result in LSPDB inconsistency among routers in the network.
3. Deployment Considerations
This section discusses some possible deployment issues for this
3.1. Inconsistent Values for MaxAge
[ISO10589] defines MaxAge (the maximum value for the Remaining
Lifetime in an LSP) as an architectural constant of 20 minutes (1200
seconds). However, in practice, implementations have supported
allowing this value to be configurable. The common intent of a
configurable value is to support longer lifetimes than the default,
thus reducing the periodic regeneration of LSPs in the absence of
topology changes. See a discussion of this point in [RFC3719]. It
is therefore possible for the value of MaxAge on the IS that
originates an LSP to be higher or lower than the value of MaxAge on
the ISs that receive the LSP.
If the value of MaxAge of the IS that originated the LSP is smaller
than the value of MaxAge of the receiver of an LSP, then setting the
Remaining Lifetime of the received LSP to the local value of MaxAge
will ensure that it is not purged prematurely. However, if the value
of MaxAge on the receiver is less than that of the originator, then
it is still possible to have an LSP purged prematurely when using the
extension defined in the previous section. Implementors of this
extension may wish to protect against this case by making the value
to which the Remaining Lifetime is set under the conditions described
in the previous section configurable. If that is done, the
configured value MUST be greater than or equal to the locally
configured value of MaxAge.
3.2. Reporting Corrupted Lifetime
Reporting reception of an LSP with a possible corrupt Remaining
Lifetime field can be useful in identifying a problem in the network.
In order to minimize the reports of false positives, the following
algorithm SHOULD be used in determining whether the Remaining
Lifetime in the received LSP is possibly corrupt:
o The LSP has passed all acceptance tests as specified in
Section 18.104.22.168 of [ISO10589].
o The LSP is newer than the copy in the local LSPDB (including the
case of not being present in the LSPDB).
o The Remaining Lifetime in the received LSP is less than
o The adjacency to the neighbor from which the LSP is received has
been up for a minimum of ZeroAgeLifetime.
In such a case, an IS SHOULD generate a CorruptRemainingLifetime
Note that it is not possible to guarantee that all cases of a corrupt
Remaining Lifetime will be detected using the above algorithm. It is
also not possible to guarantee that all CorruptRemainingLifetime
events reported using the above algorithm are valid. As a diagnostic
aid, an implementation MAY wish to retain the value of the Remaining
Lifetime received when the LSP was added to the LSPDB.
3.3. Impact of Delayed LSP Purging
The extensions defined in this document may result in retaining an
LSP longer than its original lifetime. In order for this to occur,
the scheduled refresh of the LSP by the originator of the LSP must
fail to occur -- this implies that the originator is no longer
reachable. In such a case, its neighbors will update their own LSPs
to report the loss of connectivity to the originator. [ISO10589]
specifies that LSPs from a node that is unreachable (failure of the
two-way connectivity check) will not be used. Note that this
behavior applies to ALL information in the set of LSPs from such a
Retention of stale LSPs therefore has no negative side effects other
than requiring additional memory for the LSPDB. In networks where a
combination of pathological behaviors (e.g., LSP corruption and
frequent resetting of nodes in the network) is seen, this could lead
to a large number of stale LSPs being retained, but such networks are
4. Security Considerations
The ability to introduce corrupt LSPs is not altered by the rules
defined in this document. Use of authentication as defined in
[RFC5304] and [RFC5310] prevents such LSPs from being intentionally
introduced. A man-in-the-middle attack that modifies an existing LSP
by changing the Remaining Lifetime to a small value can cause
premature purges even in the presence of cryptographic
authentication. The mechanisms defined in this document prevent such
an attack from being effective.
5.1. Normative References
[ISO10589] International Organization for Standardization,
"Information technology -- Telecommunications and
information exchange between systems -- Intermediate
System to Intermediate System intra-domain routeing
information exchange protocol for use in conjunction with
the protocol for providing the connectionless-mode network
service (ISO 8473)", ISO/IEC 10589:2002, Second Edition,
[RFC2119] Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119,
DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, March 1997,
[RFC5304] Li, T. and R. Atkinson, "IS-IS Cryptographic
Authentication", RFC 5304, DOI 10.17487/RFC5304, October
[RFC5310] Bhatia, M., Manral, V., Li, T., Atkinson, R., White, R.,
and M. Fanto, "IS-IS Generic Cryptographic
Authentication", RFC 5310, DOI 10.17487/RFC5310, February
5.2. Informative References
Decraene, B. and C. Schmitz, "IS-IS LSP lifetime
corruption - Problem Statement", Work in Progress,
[RFC3719] Parker, J., Ed., "Recommendations for Interoperable
Networks using Intermediate System to Intermediate System
(IS-IS)", RFC 3719, DOI 10.17487/RFC3719, February 2004,
The problem statement in [PROB-STATEMENT] motivated this work.
The following individual contributed substantially to the content of
this document and should be considered a co-author:
510 McCarthy Blvd.
Milpitas, CA 95035
United States of America
170 W. Tasman Dr.
San Jose, CA 95035
United States of America
44 avenue de la Republique, CS 50010
92326 Chatillon Cedex 92794
1137 Innovation Way
Sunnyvale, CA 94089
United States of America