Endpoint Security Classification
draft-mcfadden-endpoint-classification-00

Versions: 00                                                            
Independent Submission                                       M McFadden
Internet Draft                             internet policy advisors ltd
Intended status: Informational                         November 2, 2020
Expires: May 2, 2021



                     Endpoint Security Classification
                 draft-mcfadden-endpoint-classification-00


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Abstract



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   It seems reasonable to suggest that, despite the huge variety of
   types of endpoints on the Internet, there are categories of
   similarity.  These categories are important because categories of
   endpoint devices may share particular advantages or limitations for
   endpoint security. This draft attempts to suggest a classification of
   endpoints as a foundation for further work on operational security.
   The goal is to identify classes of endpoints with similar
   characteristics. Those characteristics may lead to the discovery that
   the devices in a particular category share similar characteristics
   for endpoint security.

Table of Contents


   1. Introduction...................................................3
   2. Conventions used in this document..............................3
   3. Problem Statement..............................................4
   4. Simplified Endpoint Schematic..................................4
   5. Taxonomy and Hierarchy.........................................5
   6. Taxonomy.......................................................5
      6.1. Traditional and Enterprise Computing Equipment [TECE].....6
         6.1.1. Description..........................................6
         6.1.2. Endpoint characteristics.............................6
      6.2. Personal Computing Equipment..............................6
         6.2.1. Description..........................................6
         6.2.2. Endpoint characteristics.............................7
      6.3. Human Interface Devices...................................8
         6.3.1. Endpoint description.................................8
         6.3.2. Endpoint characteristics.............................8
      6.4. Human Sensor Devices......................................9
         6.4.1. Endpoint characteristics............................10
      6.5. Non-human Sensor Devices.................................10
         6.5.1. Endpoint Description................................10
         6.5.2. Endpoint characteristics............................10
      6.6. Peripheral Computing Equipment and Embedded Endpoints....11
         6.6.1. Endpoint Description................................11
         6.6.2. Endpoint characteristics............................12
      6.7. Application Layer Endpoints..............................12
         6.7.1. Description.........................................12
         6.7.2. Endpoint Characteristics............................13
      6.8. Edge Network and Acquisition Endpoints...................13
         6.8.1. Description.........................................13
         6.8.2. Endpoint characteristics............................14
   7. Security Considerations.......................................15
   8. IANA Considerations...........................................15
   9. References....................................................15
      9.1. Normative References.....................................15


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      9.2. Informative References...................................15
   10. Acknowledgments..............................................15
   Appendix A. Document History.....................................16

1. Introduction

   A document entitled "BCP 72 - A Problem Statement [I-D. draft-
   mcfadden-smart-threat-changes-01] suggests that the Internet's threat
   landscape has changed significantly since the publication of BCP 72.
   One of those changes is the evolution of security at endpoints. From
   an operational viewpoint, the end-to-end principle has previously
   focused activity on endpoint security.

   Operational experience has identified limitations of endpoint-only
   security solutions. Significant changes in technology, economics and
   protocol development have impacted the provision of endpoint
   security.

   There are an enormous variety of endpoints on the Internet. It seems
   a daunting task to try to make generalizations about endpoint
   security when there is such diversity in the types of devices
   connected to the Internet.

   However, it seems reasonable to suggest that, despite the huge
   variety of types of endpoints, there are categories of similarity.
   These categories are important because categories of endpoint devices
   may share particular advantages or limitations for endpoint security.

   This draft attempts to suggest a classification of endpoints as a
   foundation for further work on operational security.  The goal is to
   identify classes of endpoints with similar characteristics. Those
   characteristics may lead to the discovery that the devices in a
   particular category share similar characteristics for endpoint
   security. While a general-purpose taxonomy of Internet endpoints
   might be useful in a variety of settings, it is not the intended goal
   of this document.

   In addition, this document does not attempt to assess and document
   the endpoint security characteristics of each part of the taxonomy.

2. Conventions used in this document

   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].




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3. Problem Statement

   User Equipment encompasses a very broad set of endpoints.  It may be
   useful to provide a set of categories - or, groups - of endpoints
   that have similar properties. Endpoints in the same groups may share
   security characteristics that are particular to that group.  The
   fundamental question is: can a classification of endpoint devices be
   created that allows for grouping of endpoints that have similar
   security characteristics? And: is such a grouping - along with
   operational experience on the Internet - useful in guiding future
   security protocol design?

   If it is possible to answer each of those questions in the
   affirmative, then operational experience and research can be done on
   the security characteristics of each category and influence the
   development of protocols that have the greatest impact for those type
   of devices.

4. Simplified Endpoint Schematic

   A simplified representation of an endpoint is possible by making the
   following generalization:

   +------------------------------------------------+
   |                                                |
   |   Application                                  |
   |                                                |
   |------------------------------------------------|
   |                                                |
   |   OS / Execution Environment                   |
   |                                                |
   |------------------------------------------------|
   |                                                |
   |   Hardware                                     |
   |                                                |
   +------------------------------------------------+

                     Figure 1 Endpoint Generalization

   This simplification means that there are many combinations of
   hardware, operating systems, execution environments and applications.
   It also means that any of these three layers can be an endpoint for
   the purposes of a discussion of endpoint security.

   It is natural to suggest that we consider endpoints including those
   which have a variety of power, computational, storage and network
   capacities. It is possible that grouping devices with similar


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   characteristics will help in identifying categories of devices that
   share similar endpoint security characteristics.

5. Taxonomy and Hierarchy

   One suggestion for the taxonomy for endpoints is to consider a
   hierarchy of endpoints that collects similar endpoint types in large
   categories and then distinguishes between them in "sub-groups" or
   lower levels of the taxonomy.

   These groupings may provide a way to categorize threats and
   mitigations to large classes of endpoints on the Internet while
   providing the ability for differentiation. An example might be a
   class of endpoints characterized as "constrained devices."

   As an example, "constrained devices" might be further subdivided into
   sub-classes such as sensors, embedded processors, specific (or,
   special) purpose single-use processors, mesh gateways, and so forth.
   It can even be imagined that the second level of the hierarchy could
   be further subdivided by further distinguishing the endpoint types.

   The current version of the draft does not take this approach. One of
   the goals of the endpoint taxonomy is to provide enough
   differentiation and specificity to ensure that a later operational
   experience and research can successfully discuss common threats and
   mitigations for each of the categories in the taxonomy. By providing
   a ever greater hierarchy of endpoint types, it becomes difficult to
   scale a future document that discusses threats and mitigations to the
   highly specific endpoint types.

6. Taxonomy

   Others have attempted to provide general-purpose taxonomy and device
   classification guides. In some settings automated detection and
   classification of devices provides an essential step in providing
   appropriate access control and security services.

   General-purpose classification systems tend to ossify or become
   enormously complex. Classification has come from commercial entities,
   computer science organizations, the academic community and even
   regional collections of cooperating national governments.

   Because of this, we limit the discussion to a taxonomy for endpoints
   only. We divide endpoints into eight different classes and then
   attempt to carefully describe the characteristics of devices in each
   class.



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6.1. Traditional and Enterprise Computing Equipment [TECE]

6.1.1. Description

   Traditional and Enterprise Computing Equipment is characterized by
   its extremely high-capacity for transactional volume, storage and
   shared user population. TECE forms the backbone of high-volume, high-
   availability transactional computing and is provided in both physical
   and virtualized forms.

   Traditional computing endpoints are shared computing environments
   characterized by centralized, shared computing. These endpoints are
   often in large scale data centers. These endpoints are capable of
   high-availability, substantial requirements for power and
   environmental control. These endpoints are also characterized by very
   complex operating systems and user environments.

6.1.2. Endpoint characteristics

   o  Cost - these endpoints are characterized by extremely high cost.

   o  Physical size - these are very large endpoints, not suitable or
      intended for use by an individual.

   o  Network link characteristics - capable of supporting extremely
      high bandwidth.

   o  User interface - very complex and shared among multiple
      individuals.

   o  Processing power - extremely high processing capability.

   o  Physical power - requires substantial provision of electrical
      power and environmental controls.

   o  Code complexity - Extremely high support for very complex code
      including parallelism, multitasking and multithreaded execution.

6.2. Personal Computing Equipment

6.2.1. Description

   These are endpoints designed or intended to be used by an individual.
   They can be delivered as fixed, portable or virtual instantiations of
   the endpoint.  It should be noted that virtual instantiations of
   endpoints introduce complexities in defining the characteristics of
   the endpoints.  In each case, the device supports a mechanism for


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   human-interface and has the capability for both local storage and
   processing. The personal computing equipment class is also
   characterized by relatively low cost and power requirements.

   This class of endpoint is also characterized by the devices
   supporting multiple purpose use.  This class is divided into two sub-
   classes: fixed and mobile endpoints.  The mobile subclass is further
   divided into four other subclasses: laptops, tablets, intelligent
   phones, and ultraportable personal computing equipment.

   Personal computing endpoints usually have at least one, and often
   many, network links - often supporting a variety of network
   connectivity technologies.  These endpoints are also characterized by
   having a human interface - either integral to the computing device
   itself or supplied externally to the computing device.

6.2.2. Endpoint characteristics

   o  Cost - these endpoints have a huge range of costs, from extremely
      inexpensive for simple "personal computer on a board" endpoints to
      moderately expensive for specially configured laptop and fixed
      devices.

   o  Physical size - the physical size of these devices range from
      handheld to a small cabinet for fixed, desktop units.

   o  Network link characteristics - personal computing endpoints are
      often characterized by supporting multiple connectivity
      technologies.

   o  User interface - personal computing endpoints are characterized by
      having user interfaces designed for an individual. The interface
      varies from simple, text-based interaction to gesture, touch and
      voice control.

   o  Processing power - these endpoints are characterized by a
      significant range of processing power: from single CPU units to
      endpoints that can support multiple concurrent processes.

   o  Physical power - personal computing endpoints are characterized by
      using either traditional mains power or power supplied by a
      battery.

   o  Code complexity - personal computing endpoints support complex
      code and often parallel and multithreaded execution of code.




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6.3. Human Interface Devices

6.3.1. Endpoint description

   Human interface transactions begin with a task-related goal for a
   user. This leads to a user behavior (such as pointing, typing or
   touching) which occurs in the current computing environment. The
   user's action then should trigger an event in the current computing
   environment.

   Early computer science research breaks the taxonomy for Human
   Interface Devices into four large categories: input devices, pointing
   devices, indirect pointing and speech recognition. More recent
   research adds neural interfaces, VR sensors, and human attribute
   sensors. In all of these cases, the endpoints have the goal of
   providing a mechanism for user navigation, interconnection, form
   filling, menu interaction, data entry or sensing of human input
   (although not to be confused with the following category in the
   taxonomy). The result is that this category of the taxonomy has been
   characterized by extremely limited computing capability in the past.
   In contemporary networks the human interface devices are far more
   complex and, as a result, subject to a wider collections of risks as
   endpoints.

   Since human interface devices are often the mechanism that provides
   control of a computing resource, attacks on those devices are of
   particular concern.  In the past, the idea that there was an external
   threat to a mouse or a pointing device would be ignored. In contrast,
   today's voice actuated input devices and VR interfaces are
   sophisticated enough to represent a real platform for attack.

6.3.2. Endpoint characteristics

   o  Cost - these endpoints are typically low in cost compared to
      traditional computing equipment. They are often closer in cost to
      simple peripheral equipment rather than endpoints that provide
      general purpose computing platforms.

   o  Physical size - these devices are meant to provide a human
      interface and are sized appropriately to that use case. Examples
      include those devices that are small enough to be handheld or
      worn.







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   o  Network link characteristics - human interface devices are
      connected in a variety of ways. Early devices were wired to the
      device to which they provided connectivity. More recently, these
      devices have a network connection between them and the connected
      device. Examples of this connection use Bluetooth or other, very
      local network connections. These devices may have connections to
      wider networks to support applications such as augmented reality.

   o  User interface - generally these devices provide a user interface
      rather than having a distinct user interface of their own. More
      complex human interface devices have limited interfaces for
      settings and control of the device, and its connectivity and
      function.

   o  Processing power - these devices are characterized by having
      limited processing power.

   o  Physical power - most human interface devices are characterized by
      having limited power requirements. They are sometimes powered by
      their connection to the device. In other cases, they are powered
      by a battery.

   o  Code complexity - human interface devices tend to have either no
      or very limited capabilities to execute code. Modern interface
      devices which support presentation of a virtual physical
      environment are capable of executing the code needed to provide
      the interface between the presentation of visual (and other)
      stimuli while responding to gestures and movement of the person
      using the device.

6.4. Human Sensor Devices

   Description

   These are endpoints whose primary purpose is to sense, store,
   transmit or process information about a human being.  These endpoints
   are characterized as having use cases in health and wellness
   monitoring, human performance enhancement, personalized medicine and
   human safety.

   The endpoints are characterized as sensor devices with the capacity
   to sense, store and report on data collected on an individual. The
   sensor may be multimodal. These endpoints are almost always
   characterized by have a battery for power and having limited storage,
   networking and processing capabilities.




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6.4.1. Endpoint characteristics

   o  Cost - Human Sensor Endpoints can range in cost from very low (for
      instance a heartbeat sensor) to quite expensive (a sensor built
      into an implanted device).

   o  Physical size - human sensors are very small and almost always
      portable.

   o  Network link characteristics - human sensors usually have a single
      network like technology available and are capable of very limited
      bandwidth utilization on that link.

   o  User interface - human sensors have extremely limited, or no, user
      interface.

   o  Processing power - human sensors are characterized by having
      limited processing power - often incorporating only the ability to
      collect store and forward sensed information.

   o  Physical power - human sensors are characterized by being powered
      by internal batteries

   o  Code complexity - human sensors are not usually capable of running
      complex code. Often, the capability of the endpoint is to simply
      sense, store and forward data without reporting and analysis of
      that data.

6.5. Non-human Sensor Devices

6.5.1. Endpoint Description

   These endpoints are capable of sensing, storage, communication and
   possibly some computation. They are characterized by having very low
   bandwidth radios, a battery for power, sensor technology and a small
   processor.  Unlike in Section 5.4, these devices are not intended to
   sense human-related information.

   Compared with Human Sensors, non-human sensors often have a variety
   of communications technologies available - for instance, self-
   organizing into mesh networks.

6.5.2. Endpoint characteristics

   o  Cost - Non-human Sensor Endpoints can range in cost from very low
      (for instance, a simple temperature sensor) to quite expensive (a
      sensor built into an implanted device.


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   o  Physical size - Non-human sensors are often small and almost
      always portable.

   o  Network link characteristics - Non-human sensors usually have a
      single network like technology available but the topology of those
      network links can be highly varied.  Quite often these devices are
      capable of very limited bandwidth utilization on the link to which
      they are attached.

   o  User interface - non-human sensors have extremely limited, or no,
      user interface.

   o  Processing power - non-human sensors are characterized by having
      limited processing power - often incorporating only the ability to
      collect store and forward sensed information.  Some non-human
      sensors have the capability to process stored data, but usually
      this is limited.

   o  Physical power - non-human sensors often require very limited
      amounts of power - very often provided by a battery.

   o  Code complexity - non-human sensors are not usually capable of
      running complex code. Often, the capability of the endpoint is to
      simply sense, store and forward data without reporting and
      analysis of that data.

6.6. Peripheral Computing Equipment and Embedded Endpoints

6.6.1. Endpoint Description

   These are endpoints that are "embedded" in devices that may have a
   different primary function. An example is a network endpoint in a
   printer that supports remote access, configuration and printing.
   Another example is an endpoint in an appliance that has a different
   primary function (for instance, a refrigerator).

   In either case, the endpoint is characterized as being added to
   another system, machine or peripheral.

   These devices are characterized as being specialized for their
   particular use case and function. Their specific characteristics
   often depend upon the system, device or peripheral in which they are
   being hosted.  As an example, the embedded endpoint gets its physical
   power and networking capabilities from the device in which it is
   connected.




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6.6.2. Endpoint characteristics

   o  Cost - almost never available as a standalone device - instead,
      always embedded into the peripheral or system which is hosting it.

   o  Physical size - almost always very small - to be embedded into
      some other system or device.

   o  Network link characteristics - dependent on network services
      available from the host device and not always IP-based.

   o  User interface - almost always provided by the "hosting" device.
      Many embedded endpoints share a user interface with the
      configuration and control tool for the underlying device.

   o  Processing power - usually limited and constrained by the use
      case. Some embedded endpoints provide remote access to the
      underlying resources provided by the processor.

   o  Physical power - generally supplied by the "host" system or
      device.

   o  Code complexity - limited and almost always constrained by use
      case.

6.7. Application Layer Endpoints

6.7.1. Description

   A significant trend in the contemporary public Internet is to have
   applications act as completely independent agents - a situation where
   the application itself provides the necessary infrastructure (for
   instance, domain name resolution) to provide services. An example
   would be a web browser that independently resolved domain names and
   established secure communication channels independently.

   The traffic between the application and the servers it uses might not
   be available for analysis by security software. As a result,
   application-based endpoints would have the characteristic of having
   to provide security services (for instance, traffic security or
   malware detection) for itself.

   This type of endpoint also has the characteristic of potentially
   having adverse impacts on other applications running on the same
   platform. For example, if several applications are provisioning their
   own infrastructure services, then those services are being duplicated
   on that platform. For security related infrastructure there would be


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   no common, platform-wide approach to securing the applications or the
   traffic generated between the application and external servers.

6.7.2. Endpoint Characteristics

   o  Cost - applications vary widely in cost and some are free.

   o  Physical size - based on code, application endpoints do not have
      physical characteristics (e.g. size, power requirements, etc.).

   o  Network link characteristics - applications often use network
      facilities provided by lower layers of the stack. In particular,
      many application endpoints use the network services provided by
      the underlying operating system that acts as the host for the
      application. An emerging trend in both wired and wireless networks
      is for the application to interface with the network link to
      control or provide some of the network link services for itself.
      An example of this would be an application that does DNS
      resolution services for itself rather then depending on the
      underlying operating system to provide that service.

   o  User interface - the application usually provides its own user
      interface which can be minimal (for instance, command line driven)
      or complex (windows or VR driven).

   o  Processing power - always dependent on the device on which the
      application is hosted.

   o  Physical power - based on code, application endpoints do not have
      physical requirements (e.g. power)

   o  Code complexity - highly variable. Applications can be very simple
      or highly complex depending on the application's requirements.

6.8. Edge Network and Acquisition Endpoints

6.8.1. Description

   The emergence of intelligent devices and things has led to new
   network designs where data is aggregated at points topologically
   close to where the data is gathered.  The gathered data can then have
   the option to flow to nearby gateways, or a Wi-Fi/W-LAN (SD-WAN)
   router/equipment, or the telco tower/rooftop towers. These often
   perform an acquisition function that includes both aggregation and
   data condensation.




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   They usually have some level of processing capability. The main task
   for these devices is to collect the data from various other endpoints
   and send the processed data upstream. In doing so, they often perform
   some low-level data processing, such as data filtering (which
   determines what data is sent/blocked) and data analytics.

   The acquisition systems are often architected to talk to distributed
   data centers and end devices; for instance, on a factory shop floor,
   a CDN's edge PoP (Point of Presence), an edge colocation local, or a
   metro regional datacenter for a Telco or IT Service Provider.

   In all cases, these edge computing devices represent a newer class of
   endpoints. These are endpoints that are not at the extreme edge of
   the network, but provide services to the devices at those edges
   (especially for those devices in the class discussed in section 6.4
   and 6.5 above).

   The threats and mitigations for this class of device is expected to
   be significantly different from those in sections 6.4 and 6.5.

6.8.2. Endpoint characteristics

   o  Cost - highly variable. Edge network devices in 5G networks can be
      very expensive. Aggregation nodes in sensor networks can be very
      inexpensive.

   o  Physical size - highly variable. Edge network devices in 5G
      networks can be larger than personal computing equipment.
      Aggregation nodes in sensor networks can be as small as a circuit
      board, battery and radio.

   o  Network link characteristics - by their nature, these devices have
      at least a pair of network links. One of these links faces toward
      the network where the data is being aggregated. The other faces
      toward the network where the data is being processed, analyzed or
      reported upon.

   o  User interface - these devices usually have a limited user
      interface, characterized by the need to configure the device,
      provide security and allow for management of the network links.

   o  Processing power - usually these devices have limited processing
      power: their emphasis is on aggregation and management of data
      flows between networks.





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   o  Physical power - highly variable. Edge network devices in 5G
      networks can require significant sources of secure and consistent
      power. Aggregation nodes in sensor networks can often be supported
      by a small battery.

   o  Code complexity - usually these devices have limited ability to
      load and execute code. Since their emphasis is on aggregation and
      management of data flows between networks, these devices usually
      have minimal ability to run general purpose code.

7. Security Considerations

   This draft is non-normative and simply attempts to provide a taxonomy
   for endpoints. The goal of the taxonomy is to document that there are
   classes of endpoints that have different characteristics. Those
   classes may have completely different threat landscapes and the
   endpoints may have completely different security capabilities.

   This document is intended to support further work in that combines
   operational security experience with guidance for security protocol
   design.

8. IANA Considerations

   This document has no requirements or actions for IANA.

9. References

9.1. Normative References

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

9.2. Informative References

   [I-D:draft-taddei-smart-cless-introduction] Taddei, A., Wueest, C.,
   Roundy, K., Lazanski, D., "Capabilities and Limitations of an
   Endpoint-only Security Solution," https://tools.ietf.org/html/draft-
   taddei-smart-cless-introduction-01, March 2020.

10. Acknowledgments

   This document was prepared using 2-Word-v2.0.template.dot.






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Appendix A.                 Document History

   -00

   Initial Internet Draft












































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Authors' Addresses

   Mark McFadden
   Internet policy advisors ltd
   Chepstow Wales UK

   Email: mark@internetpolicyadvisors.com










































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