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Versions: 00 01 02 03 04 rfc4609                                        
Internet Engineering Task Force                                P. Savola
Internet-Draft                                                 CSC/FUNET
Expires: October 15, 2004                                    R. Lehtonen
                                                                D. Meyer
                                                            Apr 16, 2004

       PIM-SM Multicast Routing Security Issues and Enhancements

Status of this Memo

   By submitting this Internet-Draft, I certify that any applicable
   patent or other IPR claims of which I am aware have been disclosed,
   and any of which I become aware will be disclosed, in accordance with
   RFC 3668.

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   This Internet-Draft will expire on October 15, 2004.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2004). All Rights Reserved.


   This memo describes security threats for the larger (intra-domain, or
   inter-domain) multicast routing infrastructures. Only Protocol
   Independent Multicast - Sparse Mode (PIM-SM) is analyzed, in its
   three main operational modes: the traditional Any Source Multicast
   (ASM) model, Source-Specific Multicast (SSM) model, and the ASM model
   enhanced by the Embedded-RP group-to-RP mapping mechanism.  This memo
   also describes enhancements to the protocol operations to mitigate
   the identified threats.

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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   2.  Terminology  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   3.  Threats to Multicast Routing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
     3.1   Receiver-based Attacks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
       3.1.1   Joins to Different Groups  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
     3.2   Source-based Attacks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
       3.2.1   Sending Multicast to Empty Groups  . . . . . . . . . .  6
       3.2.2   Disturbing Existing Group by Sending to It . . . . . .  7
     3.3   Aggravating Factors to the Threats . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
       3.3.1   Distant RP/Source Problem  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
       3.3.2   No Receiver Information in PIM Joins . . . . . . . . .  9
   4.  Threat Analysis  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
     4.1   Summary of the Threats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
     4.2   Enhancements for Threat Mitigation . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
   5.  PIM Security Enhancements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
     5.1   Remote Routability Signalling  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
     5.2   Rate-limiting Possibilities  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
     5.3   Specific Rate-limiting Suggestions . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
       5.3.1   Group Management Protocol Rate-limiter . . . . . . . . 13
       5.3.2   Source Transmission Rate-limiter . . . . . . . . . . . 14
       5.3.3   PIM Signalling Rate-limiter  . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
       5.3.4   Unicast-decapsulation Rate-limiter . . . . . . . . . . 14
       5.3.5   MSDP Source-Active Rate-limiter  . . . . . . . . . . . 15
   6.  Security Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
   7.  IANA Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
   8.  Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
   9.  References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
   9.1   Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
   9.2   Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
       Authors' Addresses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
   A.  RPF Considers Interface, Not Neighbor  . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
   B.  Return Routability Extensions  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
     B.1   Sending PIM-Prune Messages Down the Tree . . . . . . . . . 18
     B.2   Analysing Multicast Group Traffic at DR  . . . . . . . . . 19
     B.3   Comparison of the Above Approaches . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
       Intellectual Property and Copyright Statements . . . . . . . . 20

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1.  Introduction

   This memo describes security threats to the Protocol Independent
   Multicast - Sparse Mode (PIM-SM) multicast routing infrastructures,
   and suggests ways to make these architectures more resistant to the
   described threats.

   Only attacks which have an effect on the multicast routing (whether
   intra- or inter-domain) are considered.  For example, attacks where
   the hosts are specifically targeting the Designated Router (DR) or
   other routers on the link, or where hosts are disrupting other hosts
   on the same link are out of scope. Similarly, ensuring
   confidentiality, authentication and integrity of multicast groups and
   traffic is out of the scope [9].

   PIM builds on a model where Reverse Path Forwarding (RPF) check is
   (among other things) used to ensure loop-free properties of the
   multicast distribution trees.  As a side effect, this limits the
   effect of using forged source addresses, which is often used as a
   component in unicast-based attacks.  However, a host can still spoof
   an address within the same subnet, or spoof the source of a
   unicast-encapsulated PIM Register messages, which a host may send on
   its own.

   We consider PIM-SM [1] operating in the traditional Any Souce
   Multicast (ASM) model (including the use of Multicast Source
   Discovery Protocol (MSDP) [2] for source discovery), in
   Source-Specific Multicast [3] (SSM) model, and the Embedded-RP [4]
   group-to-RP mapping mechanism in ASM model.  If the Bidirectional-PIM
   enhancements are globally significant, and have implications, they
   could also be considered, but are out of scope for now.

2.  Terminology


         "ASM" [6] is used to refer to the traditional Any Source
         Multicast model with multiple PIM domains and a signalling
         mechanism (MSDP) to exchange information about active sources
         between them.


         "SSM" [7] is used to refer to Source-Specific Multicast.

      SSM channel

         SSM channel (S, G) identifies the multicast delivery tree

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         associated with a source address S and a SSM destination
         address G.


         "Embedded-RP" refers to the ASM model where the Embedded-RP
         mapping mechanism is used to find the RP for a group, and MSDP
         is not used.

      Target Router

         "Target Router" is used to refer to either the RP processing a
         packet (ASM or Embedded-RP), or the DR that is receiving
         (Source, Group) (or (S,G)) joins, (in all models).

3.  Threats to Multicast Routing

   We make the broad assumption that the multicast routing networks are
   reasonably trusted.  That is, we assume that the multicast routers
   themselves are well-behaved, in the same sense that unicast routers
   are expected to behave well, and are not a significant source of
   abuse.  While this assumption is not entirely correct, it simplifies
   the analysis of threat models. The threats caused by misbehaving
   multicast routers (including fake multicast routers) are not
   considered in this memo. In general, the threat model would then be
   similar to  [5].

   As the threats described in this memo are mainly Denial of Service
   (DoS) attacks, it may be useful to note that the attackers will try
   to find a scarce resource anywhere in the control or data plane, as
   described in [5].

3.1  Receiver-based Attacks

   These attacks are often referred to as control plane attacks and the
   aim of the attacker is usually to increase the amount of multicast
   state information in routers above a manageable level.

   One should note that hosts can also originate PIM messages (e.g. PIM
   Joins) as long as their source address passes the RPF checks.  This
   implies that a willful attacker will be able to circumvent many of
   the potential rate-limiting functions performed at the DR (as one can
   always send the messages yourself). The PIM-SM specification,
   however, states that these messages should only be accepted from
   known PIM neighbors [1]; if this is performed, the hosts would first
   have to establish a PIM adjacency with the router. Typically,
   adjacencies are formed with anyone on the link, so a willful attacker

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   would have a high probability of success in forming a protocol

   One should also note that even if a host joins to a group multiple
   times, the DR only sends one PIM Join message, without waiting for
   any acknowledgement; the next message is only sent after the timer
   expires or the state changes at the DR.

   Also, if the host uses IGMPv3 [10] or MLDv2 [11], it is able to join
   multiple sources for the same group and each of these joins for the
   same group generates new PIM (S,G) Joins to the DR adjacent to the

3.1.1  Joins to Different Groups

   Description of the threat: Join Flooding. Join Flooding occurs when a
   host tries to join, once or a couple of times, to a group or a SSM
   channel, and the DR generates a PIM Join to the Target Router. The
   group/SSM channel or the Targer Router may or may not exist.

   Example of this is a host trying to join different, non-existent
   groups at a very rapid pace, trying to overload the routers on the
   path with an excessive amount of (*/S,G) state (also referred to as
   "PIM State"), or the Target Router with an excessive number of

   This kind of joining causes PIM state to be created, but this state
   is relatively short-lived (260 seconds by default, which is the
   default time that the state is active at DR in the absence of IGMP/
   MLD Reports/Leaves). It should also be noted that the host can join a
   number of different SSM channels with only one IGMPv3/MLDv2 Report as
   the protocol allows to include multiple sources in the same message.

   However, even short-lived state may be harmful when the intent is to
   cause as much state as possible. The host can continue to send IGMP/
   MLD Reports to these groups to make the state attack more long-lived.
   This results in:

   o  ASM: a (*,G) join is sent to an intra-domain RP, causing state on
      that path; in turn, that RP joins to the DR of the source if the
      source is active. If the source address was specified by the host
      in the IGMPv3/MLDv2 Report, a (S,G) Join is sent directly to the
      DR of the source, as with SSM, below.

   o  SSM: a (S,G) join is sent inter-domain to the DR of the source S,
      causing state on that path.  If the source does not exist, the
      join goes to the closest router on the path to S as possible.

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   o  Embedded-RP: a (*,G) join is sent towards an inter/intra-domain RP
      embedded in the group G, causing state on that path. If the RP
      does not exist, the join goes to the closest router to the RP as
      possible. Similarly, an explicit (S,G) join goes to the DR, as
      with SSM above.

   That is, SSM and Embedded-RP always enable "inter-domain" state
   creation.  ASM defaults to intra-domain, but can be used for
   inter-domain state creation as well.

   If the source or RP does not exist, the multicast routing protocol
   does not have any means to remove the distribution tree if the
   joining host remains active. Worst case attack could be a host
   remaining active to many different groups (containing either
   imaginary source or RP).

   For example, if the host is able to generate 100 IGMPv3 (S,G) joins a
   second, each carrying 10 sources, the amount of state after 260
   seconds would be 260 000 state entries -- and 100 packets per second
   is still a rather easily achievable number.

3.2  Source-based Attacks

   These attacks are often referred to as "data plane" attacks; however,
   with traditional ASM and MSDP, these also include an MSDP control
   plane threat.

3.2.1  Sending Multicast to Empty Groups

   Description of the threat: Data Flooding.  Data Flooding occurs when
   a host sends data packets to a multicast group or SSM channel for
   which there are no real subscribers.

   Note that since unicast-encapsulation is not subject to RPF checks,
   the hosts can also craft and send these packets themselves, also
   spoofing the source address of the register messages unless ingress
   filtering [12] has been deployed [13].

   Examples of this threat are a virus/worm trying to propagate to
   multicast addresses, an attacker trying to crash routers with
   excessive MSDP state, or an attacker wishing to overload the RP with
   encapsulated packets or different groups.  This results in:

   o  ASM: the DR unicast-encapsulates the packets in Register messages
      to the intra-domain RP, which may join to the source and issue a
      Register-Stop, but continues to get the data.  A notification
      about the active source is sent (unless the group or source is
      configured to be local) inter-domain with MSDP and propagated

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   o  SSM: the DR receives the data, but the data does not propagate
      from the DR unless someone joins the (S,G) channel.

   o  Embedded-RP: the DR register-encapsulates the packets to the
      intra/inter-domain RP, which may join to the source and issue a
      Register-Stop.  Data continues to be encapsulated if different
      groups are used.

   This yields many potential attacks, especially if at least parts of
   the multicast forwarding functions are implemented on a "slow" path
   or CPU in the routers, at least:

   o  The MSDP control plane traffic generated can cause a significant
      amount of control and data traffic which may overload the routers
      receiving it. A thorough analysis of MSDP vulnerabilities can be
      found in [14], and is only related to the ASM. However, this is
      the most serious threat at the moment, because MSDP will flood the
      multicast group information to all multicast domains in Internet
      including the multicast packet encapsulated to MSDP source-active
      message. This creates a lot of data and state to be shared by all
      multicast enabled routers and if the source remains active, the
      flooding will be repeated every 60 seconds by default.

   o  As a large amount of data is forwarded on the multicast tree; if
      multicast forwarding is performed on CPU, it may be a serious
      performance bottleneck, and a way to perform DoS on the path.
      Similarly, the DR must always be capable of processing (and
      discarding, if necessary) the multicast packets received from the
      source. These are potentially present in every model.

   o  If the encapsulation is performed on software, it may be a
      performance bottleneck, and a way to perform DoS on the DR.
      Similarly, if the decapsulation is performed on software, it may
      be a performance bottleneck, and a way to perform DoS on the RP.
      Note: the decapsulator may know, based on access configuration, a
      rate-limit or something else, that it doesn't need to decapsulate
      the packet, avoiding bottlenecks.  These threats are related to
      ASM and Embedded-RP.

3.2.2  Disturbing Existing Group by Sending to It

   Description of the threat: Group Integrity Violation. Group Integrity
   Violation occurs when a host sends packets to a group or SSM channel,
   which already exists, to disturb the users of the existing group/SSM

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   The SSM service model prevents injection of packets to (S,G)
   channels, avoiding this problem.  However, if the source address can
   be spoofed to be a topologically-correct address, it's possible to
   get the packet into the distribution tree -- typically only those
   hosts which are on-link with the source are able to perform this, so
   this is not really relevant in the scope of this memo.

   With ASM and Embedded-RP sources can inject forged traffic through
   RPs, which provide the source discovery for the group. The RP(s) send
   the traffic over the shared tree towards receivers (routers with
   (*,G) state). DR then forwards the forged traffic to receivers unless
   the legitimate recipients are able to filter out unwanted sources,
   e.g., using MSF API [8].  Typically this is not used or supported by
   the applications using these protocols.

   Note that with ASM and Embedded-RP, the RP may exert some form of
   control on who can send to a group, as the first packets are
   unicast-encapsulated in register packets to the RP -- if the RP drops
   the packet based on access-list, rate-limiter or something else, it
   doesn't get injected to an existing group.

   With ASM this "source control" is distributed across all the PIM
   domains, which decreases its applicability.  Embedded-RP enables
   easier control because source discovery is done through single RP per

   As a result, for this attack to succeed, the RP must decapsulate the
   packets, causing the propagation of data and the integrity violation.

3.3  Aggravating Factors to the Threats

   This section describes a few factors, which aggravate the threats
   described in Section 3.1 and Section 3.2. These could also be viewed
   as individual threats on their own.

   There are multiple threats relating to the use of host-to-router
   signalling protocols -- such as Internet Group Management Protocol
   (IGMP) or Multicast Listener Discovery (MLD) -- but these are outside
   the scope of this memo.

   PIM-SM can also be abused in the cases where RPF checks are not
   applicable, in particular, in the stub LAN networks -- as spoofing
   the on-link traffic is very simple.  For example, a host would get
   elected to become DR for the subnet, but not perform any of its
   functions.  These are described at some length in [1], but are also
   considered out of scope of this memo.

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3.3.1  Distant RP/Source Problem

   In the shared tree model, if the RP or a source is distant
   (topologically), then joins will travel to the distant RP or source
   and keep the state information in the path active, even if the data
   is being delivered locally.

   Note that this problem will be exacerbated if the RP/source space is
   global; if a router is registering to a RP/source that is not in the
   local domain (say, fielded by the site's direct provider), then the
   routing domain is flat.

   Also note that PIM assumes that the addresses used in PIM messages
   are valid.  However, there is no way to ensure this, and using
   non-existent S or G in (*,G) or (S,G) -messages will cause the
   signalling to be set up, even though one cannot reach the address.

   This will be analysed at more length in Section 5.1.

3.3.2  No Receiver Information in PIM Joins

   Only DRs, which are directly connected to receivers, know the exact
   receiver information (e.g. IP address). PIM does not forward that
   information further in the multicast distribution tree. Therefore
   individual routers (e.g. domain edge routers) are not able to make
   policy decisions on who can be connected to the distribution tree.

4.  Threat Analysis

4.1  Summary of the Threats

   Trying to summarize the severity of the major classes of threats with
   respect to each multicast usage model, we have a matrix of resistance
   to different kinds of threats:

                 | Forged Join    |   Being a Source | Group Integrity |
   | ASM         |    bad 1)      |      very bad    |   bad/mediocre  |
   | SSM         |    bad         |     very good    |    very good    |
   | Embedded-RP |    bad 1),2)   | good/mediocre 3) |      good       |


   1) in ASM host can directly join also (S,G) groups with IGMPv3/MLDv2

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   and thus have same characteristics as SSM (also allows inter-domain
   state to be created).

   2) allows inter-domain shared state to be created.

   3) Embedded-RP allows a host to determine the RP for a given group
   (or set of groups), which in turn allows that host to mount a PIM
   register attack. In this case, the host can mount the attack without
   implementing any of the PIM register machinery.

4.2  Enhancements for Threat Mitigation

   There are several desirable actions ("requirements") which could be
   considered to mitigate these threats; these are listed below.  A few
   more concrete suggestions are presented later in the section.

   o  Inter-domain MSDP (ASM) should be retired to avoid attacks; or, if
      this is not reasonable, the DRs should rate-limit the
      unicast-encapsulation (note that the hosts can circumvent this)
      and (more importantly) the RPs should rate-limit the
      unicast-decapsulation especially from different sources, or MSDP
      must rate-limit the MSDP data generation for new sources.

   o  DRs should rate-limit PIM Joins and Prunes somehow; there are
      multiple possibilities how exactly this should be considered
      (i.e., which variables to take into the consideration).

   o  DRs could rate-limit unicast-encapsulation somehow; there are
      multiple ways to perform this.  Note that the hosts can avoid this
      by performing the unicast-encapsulation themselves if so inclined.

   o  RPs could rate-limit unicast-decapsulation somehow; there are
      multiple ways to perform this.  Note that if the source of the
      unicast packets is spoofed by the host, this may have an effect on
      how e.g. rate-limiters behave.

   o  RPs should rate limit the MSDP SA messages coming from MSDP peers.

   o  RPs could limit or even disable the SA cache size. However, this
      could have negative effects on normal operation.

   o  RPs should provide good interfaces to reject packets which are not
      interesting; for example, if an Embedded-RP group is not
      configured to be allowed in the RP, the unicast-encapsulated
      packets would not even be decapsulated.

   o  DRs could rate-limit the multicast traffic somehow to reduce the
      disturbing possibilities; there are multiple possibilities how

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      exactly this should be considered.

   o  DRs should rate-limit the number of groups/SSM channels that can
      be created by a given source, S.

5.  PIM Security Enhancements

   This section includes more in-depth description of the
   above-mentioned rate-limiting etc. functions as well as description
   of the remote routability signalling issue.

5.1  Remote Routability Signalling

   As described in Section 3.3.1, non-existent DRs or RPs may cause some
   problems when setting up multicast state.  There seem to be a couple
   of different approaches to mitigate this, especially if rate-limiting
   is not extensively deployed.

   With ASM and Embedded-RP, Register message delivery could be ensured
   somehow. For example:

      1) At the very least, receiving an ICMP unreachable message (of
      any flavor) should cause the DR to stop the Register packets -- as
      the RP will not be receiving them anyway. (However, one should
      note that easy spoofing of such ICMP messages could cause a DoS on
      legitimate traffic.)

      2) An additional method could be implementing a timer on the RPs
      so that unless nothing is heard back from the RP within a defined
      time period, the flow of Register messages would stop. (Currently,
      the RPs are not required to answer back, unless they want to join
      to the source.)

      3) An extreme case would be performing some form of return
      routability check prior to starting the register messages: first a
      packet would be sent to the RP, testing its existence and
      willingness to serve, and also proving to the RP that the sender
      of the "bubble" and the sender of the registers are the same and
      the source address is not forged (i.e., the RP would insert a
      cookie in the bubble, and it would have to be present in the
      register message.)

   It would be desirable to have some kind of state management for PIM
   Joins (and other messages) as well, for example, a "Join Ack" which
   could be used to ensure that the path to the source/RP actually
   exists.  However, this is very difficult if not impossible with the
   current architecture: PIM messages are sent hop-by-hop, and there is

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   not enough information to trace back the replies to e.g., notify the
   routers in the middle to release the corresponding state, and to
   nofify the DR that the path did not exist.

   Appendix B discusses this receiver-based remote routability
   signalling in more detail.

5.2  Rate-limiting Possibilities

   There seem to be many ways to implement rate-limiting (for
   signalling, data encapsulation and multicast traffic) at the DRs or
   RPs -- the best approach likely depends on the threat model; factors
   in the evaluation might be e.g.:

   o  Whether the host is willfully maliscious, uncontrolled (e.g.,
      virus/worm), or a regular user just doing something wrong.

   o  Whether the threat is aimed towards a single group, a single RP
      handling the group, or the (multicast) routing infrastructure in

   o  Whether the host on a subnet is spoofing its address (but still as
      one which fulfills the RPF checks of the DR) or not.

   o  Whether the host may generate the PIM join (and similar) messages
      itself to avoid rate-limiters at the DR if possible.

   o  Whether unicast RPF checks are applied on the link (i.e., whether
      the host can send unicast-encapsulated register-messages on its

   o  Whether blocking the misbehaving host on a subnet is allowed to
      also block other, legitimate hosts on the same subnet.

   o  Whether these mechanisms would cause false positives on links with
      only properly working hosts if many of them are receivers or

   As should be obvious, there are many different scenarios here which
   seem to call for different kinds of solutions.

   For example, the rate-limiting could be performed based on:

   1.  multicast address, or the RP where the multicast address maps to

   2.  source address

   3.  the (source address, multicast address) -pair (or the RP which

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       maps to the multicast address)

   4.  data rate in case of rate limiting the source

   5.  everything (multicast groups and sources would not be
       distinguished at all)

   In the above, we make an assumption that rate-limiting would be
   performed per-interface (on DRs) if a more fine-grained filter is not
   being used.

   It should be noted that some of the rate limiting functions can be
   used as a tool for DoS against legimate multicast users. Therefore
   several parameters for rate limiting should be used to prevent such

   The next revisions of this document (or separated in other documents,
   if appropriate) will include more explicit discussion of the best
   ways to perform rate-limiting, especially considering the effects on
   the legimate traffic.

5.3  Specific Rate-limiting Suggestions

   These suggestions take two forms: limiters designed to be run on all
   the edge networks, preventing or limiting an attack in the first
   place, and the limiters designed to be run at the border of PIM
   domains or at the RPs, which should provide protection in case
   edge-based limiting fails or was not implemented, or when additional
   control is required.

   Almost none of the suggested rate-limiters take legitimate users into
   account.  That is, for example, being able to allow some hosts on a
   link to transmit/receive, while disallowing others, is very
   challenging to do right, because the attackers can easily circumvent
   such systems.  Therefore the intent is to limit the damage to only
   one link, one DR, or one RP -- and avoid the more global effects on
   the Internet multicast architecture.

   It could also be possible to perform white-listing of groups,
   sources, or (S,G) -pairs from the rate-limiters -- so that packets
   related to these would not be counted towards the limits (e.g., the
   case of an aggressive but legitimate source, while not not desiring
   to modify the limiting parameters for all the traffic.

5.3.1  Group Management Protocol Rate-limiter

   A token-bucket -based rate-limiter to all Group Management Protocols
   (IGMP, MLD), which would limit the average rate of accepted groups or

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   sources, on the specific interface, to G_MAX per second, with a
   bucket of G_LONG. Example values could be G_MAX=1 and G_LONG=20.
   Note that e.g., an IGMPv3 join with two included sources for one
   group would count as two groups/sources.

   This would be the first-order defense against state-creation attacks
   from the hosts.  However, as it cannot be guaranteed that all the
   routers would implement something like this, other kinds of
   protections would be useful as well.  This harms legitimate receivers
   on the same link as an attacker as well.

5.3.2  Source Transmission Rate-limiter

   A token-bucket -based rate-limiter which would limit the multicast
   data transmission (excluding link-local groups) on a specific
   interface to GSEND_MAX groups per second, with a bucket of
   GSEND_LONG.  Example values could be GSEND_MAX=10 and GSEND_LONG=20.

   This would be the first-order defense against data flooding attacks.
   However, as it cannot be guaranteed that all routers would implement
   something like this, and as the RP (if SSM is not used) could be
   loaded from multiple senders, additional protections are needed as
   well.  This harms legitimate senders on the same link as an attacker
   as well.  This does not protect from a host sending a lot of traffic
   to the same group; this only harms the DR and the RP of the group,
   and is similar to unicast DDoS attacks against one source, and is not
   considered critical for the overall security.

5.3.3  PIM Signalling Rate-limiter

   A token-bucket -based rate-limiter which would limit the all
   multicast PIM messaging, either through a specific interface or
   globally on the router, to PIM_MAX new entries per second, with a
   bucket of PIM_LONG.  Example values could be 1000 and 10000.

   This would second-order defense againt PIM state attacks when GMP
   rate-limiters haven't been implemented or haven't been effective.
   This limiter might not need to be active by default, as long as the
   values are configurable.  The main applicability for this filter
   would be applying it at a border of PIM domain in case PIM state
   attacks are detected.  This harms legitimate receivers as well.

5.3.4  Unicast-decapsulation Rate-limiter

   A token-bucket -based rate-limiter for unicast-decapsulation,
   limiting the decapsulation to DECAP_MAX new groups per second, with a
   bucket of DECAP_LONG. If the router has restarted recently, a larger
   initial bucket should be used. Example values could be DECAP_MAX=1

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   and DECAP_LONG=10 (or DECAP_LONG=500 after restart).

   This would be second-order defense against data flooding: if the DRs
   would not implement appropriate limiters, or if the total number of
   flooded groups rises too high, the RP should be able to limit the
   rate with which new groups are created.  This does not harm
   legitimate senders, as long as their group has already been created.

5.3.5  MSDP Source-Active Rate-limiter

   A token-bucket -based, source-based rate-limiter, limiting new groups
   per source to SAG_MAX per second, with a bucket of SAG_LONG. Example
   values could be SAG_MAX=1 and SAG_LONG=10.

   This would be a second-order defense, both at the MSDP SA sending and
   receiving sites, against data flooding and MSDP vulnerabilities in
   particular.  The specific threat being addressed here is a source (or
   multiple different sources) trying to "probe" (e.g., virus or worm)
   different multicast addresses. [14] discusses different MSDP attack
   prevention mechanisms at length.

6.  Security Considerations

   This memo analyzes the security of PIM routing infrastructures in
   some detail, and proposes enhancements to mitigate the observed

7.  IANA Considerations

   This memo is for informational purposes and does not introduce new
   namespaces for the IANA to manage.

8.  Acknowledgements

   Kamil Sarac discussed "return routability" issues at length.

9.  References

9.1  Normative References

   [1]  Fenner, B., Handley, M., Holbrook, H. and I. Kouvelas, "Protocol
        Independent Multicast - Sparse Mode PIM-SM): Protocol
        Specification (Revised)", draft-ietf-pim-sm-v2-new-09 (work in
        progress), February 2004.

   [2]  Fenner, B. and D. Meyer, "Multicast Source Discovery Protocol
        (MSDP)", RFC 3618, October 2003.

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   [3]  Holbrook, H. and B. Cain, "Source-Specific Multicast for IP",
        draft-ietf-ssm-arch-04 (work in progress), October 2003.

   [4]  Savola, P. and B. Haberman, "Embedding the Rendezvous Point (RP)
        Address in an IPv6 Multicast Address",
        draft-ietf-mboned-embeddedrp-02 (work in progress), March 2004.

   [5]  Barbir, A., Murphy, S. and Y. Yang, "Generic Threats to Routing
        Protocols", draft-ietf-rpsec-routing-threats-06 (work in
        progress), April 2004.

9.2  Informative References

   [6]   Deering, S., "Host extensions for IP multicasting", STD 5, RFC
         1112, August 1989.

   [7]   Bhattacharyya, S., "An Overview of Source-Specific Multicast
         (SSM)", RFC 3569, July 2003.

   [8]   Thaler, D., Fenner, B. and B. Quinn, "Socket Interface
         Extensions for Multicast Source Filters", RFC 3678, January

   [9]   Hardjono, T. and B. Weis, "The Multicast Security
         Architecture", draft-ietf-msec-arch-05 (work in progress),
         January 2004.

   [10]  Cain, B., Deering, S., Kouvelas, I., Fenner, B. and A.
         Thyagarajan, "Internet Group Management Protocol, Version 3",
         RFC 3376, October 2002.

   [11]  Vida, R. and L. Costa, "Multicast Listener Discovery Version 2
         (MLDv2) for IPv6", draft-vida-mld-v2-08 (work in progress),
         December 2003.

   [12]  Ferguson, P. and D. Senie, "Network Ingress Filtering:
         Defeating Denial of Service Attacks which employ IP Source
         Address Spoofing", BCP 38, RFC 2827, May 2000.

   [13]  Baker, F. and P. Savola, "Ingress Filtering for Multihomed
         Networks", draft-savola-bcp38-multihoming-update-03 (work in
         progress), December 2003.

   [14]  Rajvaidya, P., Ramachandran, K. and K. Almeroth, "Detection and
         Deflection of DoS Attacks Against the Multicast Source
         Discovery Protocol", UCSB Technical Report, May 2003.

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Authors' Addresses

   Pekka Savola


   EMail: psavola@funet.fi

   Rami Lehtonen
   Hataanpaan valtatie 20
   Tampere 33100

   EMail: rami.lehtonen@teliasonera.com

   David Meyer

   EMail: dmm@1-4-5.net

Appendix A.  RPF Considers Interface, Not Neighbor

   In most current implementations, the RPF check considers only the
   incoming interface, and not the upstream neighbor (RPF neighbor).

   This can result in accepting packets from the "wrong" RPF neighbor
   (the neighbor is "wrong" since, while the RPF check succeeds and the
   packet is forwarded, the unicast policy would not have forwarded the

   This is a problem in the media where more than two routers can
   connect to, in particular, Ethernet-based Internet Exchanges.
   Therefore any neighbor on such a link could inject any PIM signalling
   as long as a route matching the address used in the signalling is
   going through the interface.

   However, one should note that for PIM signalling to be accepted, a
   PIM adjancency must have been established.  However, typically, this
   does not help much against willful attackers, as typically PIM
   adjacencies are formed with anyone on the link. Still, the
   requirement is that the neighbor who has enabled PIM in the concerned
   interface.  I.e., in most cases, the threat is limited to attackers
   within the operators in the exchange, not third parties.  On the
   other hand, data plane forwarding has no such checks -- and having

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   such checks would require one to look at the link-layer addresses
   used; that is, this checking is not as feasible as one might hope.

Appendix B.  Return Routability Extensions

   The multicast state information is built from the receiver side and
   it can be currently pruned only by the receiver side DR. If the RP or
   the source for the group is non-existent, the state can't be pruned
   by the DR without return routability extensions to provide such
   information. There might be also need to remove the state in some
   cases when there is no multicast traffic sent to that group. This
   section discusses about the alternative ways to remove the unused
   state information in the routers, so that it can't be used in state
   based DoS attacks. Note that rate limiting PIM Joins gives some
   protection against the state attacks.

B.1  Sending PIM-Prune Messages Down the Tree

   When a router discovers the non-existance of the RP or the source
   (XXX: does it actually know if there is RP/Source or not), it can
   create a PIM-Prune message and send it back to the join originator.
   However, since it does not know the unicast IP address of join
   originator DR, it cannot directly unicast it to that router.

   A possible alternative is to use a link-local multicast group address
   (e.g., all-pim routers local multicast address) to pass this
   information back toward the joining DR. Since the routers from this
   current router all the way back to the joining DR has forwarding
   state entry for the group, they can use this state information to see
   how to forward the PIM-Prune message back.

   Each on-tree router, in addition to forwarding the PIM-Prune message,
   can also prune the state from their state tables. This way, the
   PIM-Prune message will go back to the DR by following the so far
   created multicast forwarding state information. In addition, if we
   use some sort of RPF checks during this process, we can also make it
   more difficult to inject such PIM-Prune messages maliciously.

   A potential abuse scenario may involve an attacker having access to a
   router on the direct path to send such PIM-Prune messages down the
   tree branch so as to prune the branch from the tree. But such an
   attacker can currently achieve the same effect by sending PIM-Prune
   message toward the source from the same point on the tree. So, the
   proposed mechanism does not really aggravate the situation.

   One visible overhead in this new scenario might be that someone can
   send bogus join messages to create redundant PIM-Join and PIM-Prune
   messages in the network.

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B.2  Analysing Multicast Group Traffic at DR

   Another possible way to remove the unused state information would be
   to analyse individual group traffic at the DR and if there is no
   multicast traffic for a certain group within a certain time limit,
   the state should be removed. In here, if the receiver is malicious
   and wants to create states in the network, then it can send joins to
   different groups and create states on routers for each of these
   different groups until the DR decides that the groups are inactive
   and initiates the prune process. In addition, during the prune
   process, the routers will again process all these prune messages and
   therefore will be spending time.

B.3  Comparison of the Above Approaches

   Both of these solutions have the same problem of renewing the
   multicast state information. DR shouldn't permanently block the state
   building for that group, but to restrict the PIM Joins if it notices
   that the receiver is abusing the system. One additional option is to
   block the PIM Joins to the non-existent source/RP for a certain time.

   In the first approach (sending PIM-Prunes down the tree), part of the
   goal was to prune the states in the routers much sooner than in the
   second approach (e.g. goal is to make sure that the routers will not
   be keeping unnecessary states for long time).

   The second approach works also for DoS attacks related to the
   existing source/RP addresses and could be more quickly implemented
   and deployed in the network and does not have any relationship
   related to the other deployments (no need to change all PIM routers).

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