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Software Version Capability for BGP

Document Type Active Internet-Draft (individual)
Author Donatas Abraitis
Last updated 2024-03-20
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Intended RFC status Informational
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IANA IANA review state Version Changed - Review Needed
Network Working Group                                        D. Abraitis
Internet-Draft                                                 Hostinger
Intended status: Informational                             20 March 2024
Expires: 21 September 2024

                  Software Version Capability for BGP


   In this document, we introduce a new BGP capability that allows the
   advertisement of a BGP speaker's routing daemon version.

   This BGP capability is an optional advertisement.  Implementations
   are not required to advertise the version nor to process received

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

   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."

   This Internet-Draft will expire on 21 September 2024.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2024 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents (
   license-info) in effect on the date of publication of this document.
   Please review these documents carefully, as they describe your rights
   and restrictions with respect to this document.  Code Components
   extracted from this document must include Revised BSD License text as
   described in Section 4.e of the Trust Legal Provisions and are
   provided without warranty as described in the Revised BSD License.

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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.  Specification of Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   3.  Software Version Capability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
     3.1.  Capabilities Length Overflow  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   4.  Operation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     4.1.  Example Usage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   5.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   6.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   7.  References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     7.1.  Normative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     7.2.  Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8

1.  Introduction

   In modern data center designs, we tend to have conventional routers
   participating in the routing process.  And the fleet of routers has
   different versions of routing daemon.  This means that knowing which
   versions of the routing daemons are running the various routers in
   the network can be a crucial factor in quickly identifying the root
   cause of any protocol or network problems.

   This BGP capability is an optional advertisement.  Implementations
   are not required to advertise the version nor to process received

   Information about the version of the routing daemon could also be
   exchanged in protocols such as LLDP and CDP.  However, in
   containerized environments, it is very hard and not recommended to
   exchange this information between background processes.  Therefore,
   and to help minimize operational costs, it is helpful to exchange the
   routing daemon information between BGP peers directly.

2.  Specification of Requirements

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in BCP
   14 [RFC2119] [RFC8174] when, and only when, they appear in all
   capitals, as shown here.

3.  Software Version Capability

   Although this document is not an IETF Standards Track document, it
   makes use of the terminology from BCP 14 in order to clearly state
   the implementation behaviors.

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   Capabilities advertisements with BGP are defined in [RFC5492].  They
   utilize the BGP Capabilities Optional Parameter that contains one or
   more triples <Capability Code, Capability Length, Capability Value>.
   This document defines a new BGP capability, the Software Version
   Capability, with Capability Code 75 and Capability Length and
   Capability Value as described below.

   The inclusion of the Software Version Capability is OPTIONAL.  If an
   implementation supports the inclusion of the capability, the
   implementation MUST include a configuration switch to enable or
   disable its use, and that switch MUST be off by default.

   The Software Version Capability is intended for environments where
   more visibility is needed for troubleshooting purposes.  It is NOT
   RECOMMENDED for use outside a single Autonomous System, or a set of
   Autonomous Systems under a common administration.

   An implementation that does not recognize or support the Software
   Version Capability but receives one must ignore it, as described in

   The triple for the Software Version Capability is as follows:

   Capability Code


   Capability Length

      The Capability Length for the Software Version Capability MUST be
      greater than zero.  A value of zero SHALL be treated as an
      encoding error and the Capability MUST be ignored.

      The Capability Length SHOULD be no greater than 64.  This is the
      limit to allow other capabilities as much space as they require.

      Capability Length is a one-octet unsigned binary integer that
      contains the length of the Capability Value field in octets.

   Capability Value

      The Capability Value field is encoded in UTF-8 [RFC3629].  It is
      unstructured data and can be formatted in any way that the
      implementor decides.

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                   |    Version Length (1 octet)    |
                   |      Version (variable)        |

                                  Figure 1

   Version Length:

      The number of characters in the Version


      The Version field MUST be encoded using UTF-8.  A receiving BGP
      speaker MUST NOT interpret invalid UTF-8 sequences.

      The value of consists of one identifier, which identifies the
      software and its significant version.  Software version identifier
      consists of a product and optional product version.

      identifier = product ["/" product-version]

      A sender SHOULD limit generated product identifiers to what is
      necessary to identify the product; a sender MUST NOT generate
      advertising or other nonessential information within the product
      identifier.  A sender SHOULD NOT generate information in product-
      version that is not a version identifier (i.e., successive
      versions of the same product name ought to differ only in the
      product-version portion of the product identifier).


      frrouting/8.4.2, ios/12.5.1, junos/12.1

3.1.  Capabilities Length Overflow

   As defined in [RFC5492] the total length of capabilities that can be
   carried by the BGP Capabilities Optional Parameter is 255 bytes.  If
   an implementation is constructing a BGP Capabilities Optional
   Parameter and its length exceeds 255 bytes, there is not enough space
   for other more important capabilities.  An implementation is REQUIRED
   Extended Optional Parameters Length for BGP OPEN Message support as
   defined in [RFC9072].

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   A rogue node can prevent the proper operation of a BGP session, or
   the advertisement of other Capabilities, by not excluding the
   Software Version Capability as required in Section 3.1.  This risk is
   equivalent to a rogue node simply not advertising a specific
   Capability and is not new to BGP.

4.  Operation

   The Software Version Capability MUST only be used for displaying the
   version of a BGP speaker's router daemon to make troubleshooting

   Consider a group of routers each with a number of upstream nodes, and
   suppose that each router has a different operating system and
   different routing daemon at a different version installed.  Assuming
   that a specific feature is not working or that there is a bug which
   has not been fixed in a particular version of the code, knowledge of
   the routing daemon versions would allow an operator to quickly
   identify the pattern of which versions are affected.

   Enabling (i.e., turning on) this capability requires bouncing all
   existing BGP sessions and the feature MUST be explicitly configured
   before an implementation advertizes the Software Version Capability.

4.1.  Example Usage

   Below is an example from the [FRRouting] and [GoBGP] implementation
   showing both the received and advertised Software Version Capability:

     :~# vtysh -c 'show ip bgp summary failed'
     Neighbor EstdCnt DropCnt ResetTime Reason
     ens192         3       3  00:00:35 Waiting for peer OPEN (n/a)
     ens224         3       3  00:01:12 Waiting for NHT (frrouting/7.2)
     eth0           3       3  00:00:14 Neighbor deleted (frrouting/7.3)

                                  Figure 2

           software-version:   advertised and received

                                  Figure 3

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     :~# vtysh -c 'show ip bgp neighbors json' \
     > | jq '."".neighborCapabilities.versions'
       "advertisedVersion": "frrouting/7.2",
       "receivedVersion": "frrouting/7.3"

                                  Figure 4

5.  IANA Considerations

   IANA has assigned capability number 75 for the Software Version
   Capability described in this document.  This registration is in the
   BGP Capability Codes registry.

                  | Value |         Description         |
                  |   75  | Software Version Capability |

                    Table 1: Software Version Capability

6.  Security Considerations

   The Software Version Capability should be treated as sensitive
   information: it could be easier for an attacker to exploit the system
   if they know the specific software version and manufacturer of a BGP
   speaker.  This information could be gathered by inspecting BGP OPEN
   messages that carry the Software Version Capability defined in this
   document.  Furthermore, this knowledge may facilitate a number of
   social-engineering attacks.

   Modifying the information advertised by a router might lead to
   attacks including bogus software upgrades and also might mask the
   causes of faults in the network.

   Users of this mechanism should be aware that unless a transport that
   provides integrity is used for the BGP session in question, the
   Software Version Capability can be forged.  Unless a transport that
   provides confidentiality is used, the Version Capability could be
   snooped by an attacker.  These issues are common to any BGP message
   but may be of greater interest in the context of this extension as
   explained above.  Refer to the related considerations in [RFC4271]
   and [RFC4272].

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   Users of this mechanism should consider applying data minimization
   practices as outlined in Section 6.1 of [RFC6973], as appropriate
   within the deployment context.

   Sensitive information leaks can be minimized by using the [RFC5082]
   mechanism or firewalls to filter out TCP 179 port from untrusted
   networks.  This capability can be disabled per neighbor, thus the
   sensitive information can't be disclosed to untrusted neighbors.

7.  References

7.1.  Normative References

   [RFC2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, March 1997,

   [RFC3629]  Yergeau, F., "UTF-8, a transformation format of ISO
              10646", STD 63, RFC 3629, DOI 10.17487/RFC3629, November
              2003, <>.

   [RFC4271]  Rekhter, Y., Ed., Li, T., Ed., and S. Hares, Ed., "A
              Border Gateway Protocol 4 (BGP-4)", RFC 4271,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC4271, January 2006,

   [RFC4272]  Murphy, S., "BGP Security Vulnerabilities Analysis",
              RFC 4272, DOI 10.17487/RFC4272, January 2006,

   [RFC5082]  Gill, V., Heasley, J., Meyer, D., Savola, P., Ed., and C.
              Pignataro, "The Generalized TTL Security Mechanism
              (GTSM)", RFC 5082, DOI 10.17487/RFC5082, October 2007,

   [RFC6973]  Cooper, A., Tschofenig, H., Aboba, B., Peterson, J.,
              Morris, J., Hansen, M., and R. Smith, "Privacy
              Considerations for Internet Protocols", RFC 6973,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC6973, July 2013,

   [RFC8174]  Leiba, B., "Ambiguity of Uppercase vs Lowercase in RFC
              2119 Key Words", BCP 14, RFC 8174, DOI 10.17487/RFC8174,
              May 2017, <>.

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   [RFC9072]  Chen, E. and J. Scudder, "Extended Optional Parameters
              Length for BGP OPEN Message", RFC 9072,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC9072, July 2021,

7.2.  Informative References

              Abraitis, D., "FRRouting - BGP Software Version
              Capability", 2023,

   [GoBGP]    Abraitis, D., "Add Software Version capability", 2023,

Author's Address

   Donatas Abraitis

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