SFC environment Security requirements

Versions: 00 01 02                                                      
SFC Working Group                                        D. Migault, Ed.
Internet-Draft                                                  Ericsson
Intended status: Informational                              C. Pignataro
Expires: May 1, 2017                                            T. Reddy
                                                               C. Inacio
                                                        October 28, 2016

                 SFC environment Security requirements


   This document provides environment security requirements for the SFC
   architecture.  Environment security requirements are independent of
   the protocols used for SFC - such as NSH for example.  As a result,
   the requirements provided in this document are intended to provide
   good security practices so SFC can be securely deployed and operated.
   These security requirements are designated as environment security
   requirements as opposed to the protocol security requirements.

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
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   This Internet-Draft will expire on May 1, 2017.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2016 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
   (http://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) in effect on the date of

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   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
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Table of Contents

   1.  Requirements notation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   3.  Terminology and Acronyms  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   4.  SFC Environment Overview  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     4.1.  Deployment of SFC Architecture  . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   5.  Threat Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     5.1.  Attacks performed from the SFC Control Plane  . . . . . .   8
     5.2.  Attacks performed from the SFC Management Plane . . . . .   9
     5.3.  Attacks performed from the Tenant's Users Plane . . . . .   9
     5.4.  Attacks performed from the SFC Data Plane . . . . . . . .  11
   6.  Security Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
     6.1.  Plane Isolation Requirements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
       6.1.1.  SFC Control Plane Isolation . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16
       6.1.2.  SFC Management Plane Isolation  . . . . . . . . . . .  17
       6.1.3.  Tenant's Users Data Plane Isolation . . . . . . . . .  18
     6.2.  SFC Data Plane Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19
     6.3.  Additional Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  22
   7.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  22
   8.  Privacy Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  23
   9.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  23
   10. Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  23
   11. References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  23
     11.1.  Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  23
     11.2.  Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  24
   Authors' Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  24

1.  Requirements notation

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   document are to be interpreted as described in [RFC2119].

2.  Introduction

   This document provides environment security requirements for the SFC
   architecture [I-D.ietf-sfc-architecture].  Environment security
   requirements are independent of the protocols used for SFC - such as
   NSH [I-D.ietf-sfc-nsh].  As a result, the requirements provided in
   this document are intended to provide good security practice so SFC

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   can be securely deployed and operated.  These security requirements
   are designated as environment security requirements as opposed to the
   protocol security requirements.  This document is built as follows.
   Section 4 provides an overall description of the SFC environment with
   the introduction of the different planes (SFC Control Plane, the SFC
   Management Plane, the Tenant's user Plane and the SFC Data Plane).
   Section 6 lists environment security requirements for the SFC.  These
   requirements are intended to prevent attacks, as well as network and
   SFC misconfigurations.  When such events happens, the security
   recommendations also aim at detecting and identifying the threats or
   misconfiguration as well as limiting their impact.  Recommendations
   also may apply differently depending on the infrastructure.  For
   example trusted environment may enforce lighter security
   recommendations than public and open SFC infrastructures.  However,
   one should also consider future evolution of their infrastructure,
   and consider the requirements as a way to maintain the SFC
   architecture stable during its complete life cycle.  For each
   requirement this document attempts to provide further guidance on the
   reasons to enforce it as well as what should be considered while
   enforcing it or the associated risks of not enforcing it.

   This document assumes the reader is familiar with the SFC
   architecture defined in [I-D.ietf-sfc-architecture] as well as the
   Internet Security Glossary [RFC4949]

3.  Terminology and Acronyms

   In addition to the terminology defined in
   [I-D.ietf-sfc-architecture], the document defines the following

   - Tenant:   A tenant is one organization that is using SFC.  A tenant
         may use SFC on one's own private infrastructure or on a shared

   - Tenant's User Data Plane:   The tenant may be using SFC to provide
         service to its customers or users.  The communication of these
         users is designated as Tenant's user Data Plane and includes
         all communications involving the tenant's users.  As a result,
         if a user is communicating with a server or a user from another
         domain, the communication with that tenant's user is part of
         the Tenant's Users Data Plane.

4.  SFC Environment Overview

   This section provides an overview of SFC.  It is not in the scope to
   this document to provide an explicit description of SFC.  Instead,
   the reader is expected to read [RFC7498],

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   [I-D.ietf-sfc-architecture], [I-D.ietf-sfc-control-plane] and other
   SFC related documents.

   Service Function Chaining (SFC) architecture is defined in
   [I-D.ietf-sfc-architecture].  This section briefly illustrates the
   main concepts of the SFC architecture and positions the architecture
   within an environment.

                       SFC Control Plane
                                            ^             ^    ^
               |         C1 |            C3 |          C2 |    | C4
               |            |            +-----+          |    |
               |            |            |SF_a |          |    |
               |            |            +-----+          |    |
               |            v               |             |    |
               |       +------------+     +-----+      +-----+ |
               |    +->|    SFC     |---->| SFF |----->| SFF |------+
    SFC        |    |  | Classifier |<----|     |<-----|     | |    |
    Management |    |  +------------+     +-----+      +-----+ |    |
    Plane      |    |         ^                           |    |    |
               |    |         |                     +-----------+   |
               |    |         |                     | SFC Proxy |   |
               |    |         |                     +-----------+   |
               |    |         |                           |         |
               |    |         |                        +------+     |
               |    |         v                        | SF_b |     |
               |    |    +---------+                   +------+     |
               |    |    |  SFP 2  | <------------ SFP 1 ------->   |
               |    |    +---------+                                |
               |    |            SFC Data Plane                     |
       SFC incoming |                                  SFC outgoing |
       Data traffic |                                  Data traffic v

                         SFC Tenant's Users Data Plane

                    Figure 1: SFC Environment Overview

   SFC defined a Service Function Path (SFP) which is an ordered set of
   Service Functions (SF) applied to part of the packets.  The figure
   above represents two SFP: SFP1 and SFP2.  SFP2 is not detailled but
   SFP1 defines a path that goes through SF_a and SF_b.  SFP is defined
   at the SF level, which means the path does not consider the specific
   instance of an SF for example.  A SF may be performed by different
   instances of SF located at different positions.  As a result, a
   specific packet may pass through different instances of SFC.  The

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   ordered set of SF instances a packet goes through is called the
   Rendered SF Path (RSFP).

   Upon the receipt of an incoming packet from the tenant's user, the
   SFC Classifier determines, according to Classifiers, which SFP is
   associated to that packet.  The packet is forwarded from Service
   Function Forwarders (SFF) to SFF.  SFF are then in charge of
   forwarding the packet to the next SFF or to a SF.  Forwarding
   decisions may be performed using SFP information provided by the SFC
   Encapsulation.  As described in [I-D.ietf-sfc-nsh] the SFC
   Encapsulation contains SFP information such as the SFP ID and Service
   Index and eventually (especially for the MD-2 in NSH) some additional
   metadata.  SF may be SFC aware or not.  In the case the SFC functions
   are not SFC aware, a SFC Proxy performs the SFC Decapsulation (resp.
   SFC Encapsulation) before forwarding the packet to the SF (resp.
   after receiving the packet from the SF).

   The environment associated to SFC may be separated into the four main

   -     SFC Management Plane and Control Plane are defined in
         [I-D.ietf-sfc-control-plane].  The SFC MAnagement Plane can be
         assimilated to the cloud infrastructure provider allocating
         various resource to the various SF and eventually active the
         various SF components.  Typically management operations would
         consist in setting the number of CPU, memory bandwidth
         associated to the various SFs as well as specific configuration
         parameters of the SFC components.  It is expected that the
         interface between the various SFC components configuration will
         be vendor specific.  These configurations may be provided by
         the Cloud infrastructure provider or in the case of
         multitenancy by the administrator of the virtual network, or by
         each administrator of the SFC components.  The SFC control
         plane controls and configure the SFC related components.  The
         Control Plane differs from the Management Plane as it only
         concerns a subset of the parameters and facilities associated
         to the SF.  In general, these parameters are expected to only
         modify the internal states of the different elements.  This
         aspect confers programmability properties to the Control Plane
         that are usually not provide to the Management Plane.  It is
         also expected that the SFP are elaborated in this plane before
         being pushed into the SFC Data Plane, and more generally, the
         SFP state in the SFF is expected to come from control rather
         than management.

   -     SFC Data Plane consists in all SF components as well as the
         data exchanged between the SF components.  Communications
         between SF components includes the packet themselves, their

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         associated metadata, the routing logic - similar to RIB - or SF
         logic, i.e. what they retuned values are for example.  In other
         words, the SFC Data Plane can also be seen as all the elements
         that interact with a packet provided by an end user.  Of course
         the end user is not expected to configure any of these element
         through the SFC Data Plane.  Instead it is expected to apply
         the policies and configurations put in place by the SFC Tenant.

   -     SFC Tenant's Users Data Plane consists in the traffic data
         provided by the different users of the tenants.  When a user is
         communicating with a server or another user -eventually from
         another administrative domain - , the communication belongs to
         the SFC Tenant's Users Data Plane whenever packets are provided
         by the server of by the user.

4.1.  Deployment of SFC Architecture

   This section illustrates a deployment of SFC we consider in this

   A Cloud Provider provides an infrastructure that is shared by
   multiple SFC Tenants.  The Cloud Provider may also provide some
   servers or hardware that have a dedicated function.  Such hardware
   may be provided to the SFC Tenants under the form of a SF.  It may
   thus be shared by multiple SFC Tenants.  Such SF are designated as
   third party SF.  Another case of SF may also consider a local SF
   proxying the traffic to a remote site or domain.  The SF proxy
   transparently to the SFC elements may forward the traffic out of the
   boundaries of the Tenant.  In some case this may be needed, but in
   some other case this may be done unbeknownst to the Tenant's.

   Each SFC Tenant is responsible of its domain, that is to administrate
   or provision the necessary resource and control all its SFC elements
   which include defining SFC Paths, configuring the elements...
   Typically the coordination of the SFC elements is likely to be
   performed by a SDN controller.

   Protecting the deployed SFC architecture from attacker is one goal of
   the security requirements.  Some could easily argue that such
   requirements are not needed for example in a private SFC deployment
   where SFC components may be considered in a trusted environment and
   administrated by a single entity.  However, even in a single
   administrative domain, inside attacks are possible.  (e.g. inside
   attacker sniffing the SFC metadata, sending spoofed packets etc.).
   Then, the trusted domain assumption may not remain valid over time.
   Suppose, for example, that the SFC architecture is now interconnected
   with some third party SF or SFF.  Such SFC component is now outside
   the initial trusted domain which has several security implications.

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   Similarly, a single trusted domain with one tenant may evolve over
   time and become multitenants and share a SFC platform.  These
   tenants, may be trusted as in the case for example where each tenant
   represents a different department of a single company.
   Authentication is not sufficient, and relying only on a access
   control presents some risks.  If the tenants are not strongly
   isolated - with physical or logical networks isolation, they may
   share a common SFF and one tenant may update the SFP of the other
   tenant.  Such misconfiguration has similar impact as a redirecting
   attack.  This document provide guidance that result in limiting such
   risks and improve detection for further mitigation.

5.  Threat Analysis

   The SFC environment is composed of the following plans: SFC
   Management Plane, SFC Control Plane, SFC Data Plane and SFC Tenant's
   User Data Plane.  The purpose of these planes is to group a given set
   of functions while limiting the interactions between these planes.
   Interactions between planes are only limited - in most cases
   controlled - but these interactions still exist and so may be used by
   an attcker.  As a result, for each plane, the threat analysis is
   performed by analysis the vulnerabilities present within each plane
   as well as those performed via the other planes.

   Threat analysis of the Management Plane and the Control Plane have
   been described in [I-D.ietf-sfc-control-plane].  The SFC Tenant's
   User Plane is out of the boundaries of the SFC administrator.  As a
   result attacks performed on SFC Tenant's User Plan are not considered
   in this section and this section limits its analysis on teh SFC Data

   This section describes potential threats the SFC Data Plane may be
   exposed.  The list of threats is not expected to be complete.  More
   especially, the threats mentioned are provided to illustrate some
   security requirements for the SFC architecture.  For simplicity, this
   document mostly considers that security breaches are performed by an
   attacker.  However, such breaches may also be non-intentional and may
   result from misconfiguration for example.

   Attacks may be performed from inside the SFC Data Plane or from
   outside the SFC Data plane, in which case, the attacker is in at
   least one of the following planes: SFC Control Plane, SFC Management
   Plane or SFC Tenants' Users Plane.  Some most sophisticated attacks
   may involve a coordination of attackers in multiple planes.

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5.1.  Attacks performed from the SFC Control Plane

   Attacks related to the control plane have been detailed in section 5
   of [I-D.ietf-sfc-control-plane].

   The different interfaces between the SFC Control Plane and the SFC
   Data Plane are exposed in [draft-ietf-sfc-control-plane].  It

   -     Updating the classification rule of the SFC Classifier (also
         referred as interface C1).

   -     Updating the forwarding decision of the SFF (also refereed as
         interface C2).  This interface is also used to provide the SFC
         Control Plane some information for example on the system load,
         network load or the latency so appropriated SFP may be

   -     Updating SF's internal states (interface C3).  This interface
         is also used to provide the SFC Control Plane some information
         for example on the system load, network load or the latency so
         appropriated SFP may be computed.

   -     Updating SFC Proxy's internal states (interface C4).  This
         interface is also used to provide the SFC Control Plane some
         information for example on the system load, network load or the
         latency so appropriated SFP may be computed.

   An attacker may change the SFC Classifier classification and
   completely modify the services provided by the SFC.  Such privileges
   may be used to avoid some control over the tenant's traffic (like
   firewalling service).  An attacker may also modify the filtering or
   classification rules to overload heavy processing functions with
   traffic.  In a pay-what-you-use model, this could result in extra
   cost for the tenant or to trigger a DoS attack on the tenant SFC Data

   Attack performed on the SFC Control Plane mostly consists in tenant
   impersonation or communication hijacking.  This would enable an
   attacker to control the SFC components associated to the tenant.
   Similarly an attacker may also collect system or network load
   information in order to better orchestrate a DoS attack for example.
   An attacker may also inject instructions in order to perform a DoS
   attack on a given SFC component or to prevent the tenant to control
   other SFC components.

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5.2.  Attacks performed from the SFC Management Plane

   Attacks performed on the SFC Management Plane are similar to those
   performed from the SFC Control Plane.  The main difference is that
   the SFC Management Plan provides usually a greater control of the SFC
   component that the SFC Control Plane.

   In addition, the actions performed by the SFC Management Plane have
   fewer restrictions, which means it may be harder to enforce strong
   control access policies.

5.3.  Attacks performed from the Tenant's Users Plane

   The SFC Tenant's User Plane is not expected to have fine access
   control policies on the packets sent or received by users.  Unless
   they are filtered, all packets are good candidate to the SFC
   Classifier.  This provides the user some opportunities to test the
   behavior of the SFC.

   In addition, the Tenant's Users Plane is not controlled by the SFC
   Tenant, and users may initiate communications where both ends - the
   client and the server- are under the control of the same user.  Such
   communications may be seen as user controlled communications (UCC).

   UCC may enable any user to monitor and measure the health of the SFC.
   This may be an useful information to infer information on the
   tenant's activity or to define when a DoS attack may cause more
   damage.  One way to measure the health or load of the tenant's SFC is
   to regularly send a packet and measure the time it takes to be
   received, in order to estimate the processing time within the SFC.

   UCC may enable any user to test the consistency of the SFC.  One
   example of inconsistency could be that SFC decapsulation is not
   performed - or inconsistently performed - before leaving the SFC,
   which could leak some metadata with private information.  For
   example, a user may send spoofed packet.  Suppose for example, that a
   request HTTP GET video.example.com/movie is received with some extra
   header information such as CLIENT_ID: 1234567890, or CLIENT_EMAIL:
   client@example.foo.  If these pieces of information are derived from
   the source IP address, the attacker may collect them by changing the
   IP address for example.  In this case, the spoofed packets as used to
   collect private and confidential information of the tenant's users.
   Note that such threat is not specific to SFC, and results from the
   combination of spoofed IP and non-authenticated IP address are used
   to identify a user.  What is specific to SFC is that metadata are
   likely to carry multiple pieces of information - potentially non-
   authenticated - associated to the user.  In the case above, meta-data
   is carried over the HTTP header.  Inserting the metadata in the HTTP

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   header may be performed by a SF that takes its input from the SFC
   encapsulation.  In addition, SFC encapsulation may also leak this
   information directly to a malicious node if that node belongs to the
   SFC plane.  In this later case, the user builds on the top of and
   intrusion to the SFC Data Plane that is detailed later.

   In some case, spoofed packet may impersonate other's tenants.
   Suppose for example that the same infrastructure is used by multi
   tenants, and which are identified by the IP address of their users.
   In this case, spoofing an IP address associated to another tenant may
   be sufficient to collect the information confidential and private
   information.  The best current practice to prevent such leaks are
   usually ingress filtering for example, which prevents unlegitimate
   flows to enter the network.  Note that ingress filtering may also be
   performed at higher layers such as at application layers to prevent
   unexpected applications to enter the network.  When possible, the
   cost needs to be balanced with the risk by the SFC tenants.

   Similarly, UCC may enable any user to infer packet has been dropped
   or is in a loop.  Suppose a user send a spoofed packet and receives
   no response.  The attacker may infer that the packet has been dropped
   or is in a loop.  A loop is expect to load the system and sending a
   "well known packet" over the UCC and measuring the response time may
   determine whether the packet has been dropped or is in a loop.

   Correlation of time measurement and spoofed packet over a UCC may
   provide various type information that could be used by an attacker.

   -     The attacker may correlate spoofed packet and time measurement
         in order discover the SFC topology or the logic of the SFC
         Classifier.  Typically, it may infer when new SFs are placed in
         the SFC for example.  In addition, as metadata are placed in
         band, the time response may also provide an indication of the
         size of the metadata associated to the packet.  The combination
         of these pieces of information may help an attacker to
         orchestrate a future attack on a specific SF either to maximize
         the damages or to collect some metadata - like identification

   -     The attacker may also define the type of packets that require
         the SFC the more processing.  Additional processing may be due
         a large set of additional metadata that require fragmentation,
         some packets that are not treated in a coherent and consistent
         manner within the SFC.  Such information may be used for
         example to optimize a DoS attack.  In addition, it could also
         be used in order to artificially increase the necessary
         resource of the Tenant in order to increase the cost of
         operation for running its service.

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   Time measurement and spoofed packet in combination with variable
   query rate over a UCC may provide information on the orchestration of
   the SFC itself.  For example, the user may be able to detect when
   elasticity mechanisms are triggered.  Such attack is not SFC
   specific, and may have occured with traditional cloud mechanisms.
   However, the main difference between SFC and traditional cloud
   mechanisms is that SFC is a standard way to interconnect SF.  In that
   sense, the use of SFC provides more details to the attack as non
   standard mechanisms.

   An attacker may be able to leverage the knowledge that SFC is in use
   by specific carriers to effect the processing of data using the SFC
   system as a processor in the attack.  This leads to a number of
   potential weaknesses in the Internet ecosystem.

   An attacker may be able to characterize the type of client platforms
   using a web site by carefully crafting data streams that will be
   modified by the SFC system versus client systems that would view web
   data unmodified.  For example, leveraging SFC and carefully crafted
   data, a malicious web site operator may be able to create a
   particularly formatted common file that when modified by a cellular
   operator for bandwidth savings creates a file that may crash,
   (creating a DoS attack) on a select set of clients.  Clients not
   accessing that web site using the same RSFP would not experience any
   issues.  Additionally, external examination of the malicious site
   would not demonstrate any malicious content, relying on the SF to
   modify the content.

   A well crafted site could potentially leverage the variances of
   functionality from different RSFPs in order to GEO locate a user.  An
   example would be creating an image file which when recompressed
   creates image artifacts rendering the image unusable, but allowing
   the user to respond to such an event, thereby letting the web site
   operator know the user has potentially moved from a higher to lower
   bandwidth network location within the area of a specific network

5.4.  Attacks performed from the SFC Data Plane

   This section considers an attacker has been able to take control of
   an SFC component.  As a result, the attacker may become able to
   modify the traffic and perform, on-path attacks, it may also be able
   to generate traffic, or redirect traffic to perform some kind of Man-
   in-the-middle attacks.  This is clearly a fault, and security
   policies should be set to avoid this situation.  This section
   analyses in case this intrusion occurs, the potential consequences on
   the SFC.  As mentioned earlier, this section assumes all these
   actions are performed by an attacker.  However, what is designated by

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   an attack may also result from misconfigurations at various layer.  A
   SF or a SFF may become inadvertently configured or programed which
   may result in similar outcomes as an attack.  Whatever result in what
   we designate as an attack, the purpose of security requirements will
   be to detect, to analyse and mitigate such security breaches.

   The traffic within the SFC Data Plane is composed of multiple layers.
   The traffic is composed of communications between SFC components.
   The transport between the SFC component is the transport protocol and
   is not considered in the SFC.  It can typically be a L2 transport
   layer, or an L3 transport layer using various encapsulation
   techniques (vLAN, VxLAN, GRE, IPsec tunnels for example).  Each of
   these transport layer adds or remove attack vectors.  The transport
   layer carries SFC Encapsulated that are composed of an SFC
   Encapsulation envelope that carries metadata and a SFC payload that
   is the actual packet exchanged between the two end points.

   As a result, attacker may use the traffic to perform attacks at
   various layers.  More specifically, attacks may be performed at the
   transport layer, the SFC Encapsulation layer or the SFC payload

   -     Attacks performed at the transport layer may be related to SFC
         in the sense that illegitimate SFC traffic could be provided to
         the SF.  Typically, a malicious node that is not expected to
         communicate with that SF may inject packets into the SFC, such
         malicious node may eventually spoof the IP address of
         legitimate SF, so the receiving SF may not be able to detect
         the packet is not legitimate.  Threats related to IP spoofing
         are described in [RFC6959] and may be addresses by
         authenticated traffic (e.g.  using IPsec).  Such threats are
         not related to SFC even though they may impact a given SF.

   -     the SFC Encapsulation as well as the SFC payload are usually
         considered as input by a SF.  As such they may represent
         efficient vector of attacks for the SF.  Attacks performed
         through SFC payload are similar as the ones described in the
         Tenant's Users Data Plane section.  As a result, such attacks
         are not considered in this section, and this section mostly
         considers attacks based on the SFC Encapsulation and malicious

   When an attacker is within the SFC Data Plane, it may have a full or
   partial control of one SF component in which case, the attacker is
   likely to compromise the associated SFCs.  It could for example,
   modify the expected operation of the SFC.  Note that in this case,
   the SFC may be appropriately provisioned and set, however, the SFC

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   does not operate as expected this may only be detected by monitoring
   and auditing the SFC Data Plane.

   Although traffic authentication may be performed at various layers L2
   L3 or at the SFC Encapsulation layer, this section considers the SFC
   traffic.  As a result, the SFC traffic is authenticated if the SF is
   able to authenticate the incoming SFC packet.

   When SFC traffic is not authenticated, an attacker may inject spoofed
   packet in any SFC component.  The attacker may use spoofed packet to
   discover the logic of the SFC.  On the other hand, the attacker may
   also inject packet in order to perform DoS attack via reflection.  In
   fact, as NSH provides the ability to add metadata, some deployment
   may end up with payloads carrying large metadata.  Addition of such
   overhead presents a vector for amplification within the SFC Data
   Plane and thus either load the network or the next SF.  Note that
   amplification may be generated by metadata, the SFC payload, and the
   attacker may replay packets or completely craft new packets.  In
   addition, the attacker may choose a spoofed packet to increase the
   CPU load on the SFC components.  For example, it could insert
   additional metadata to generate fragmentation.  Similarly, it may
   also insert unnecessary metadata that may need to be decapsulated and
   analyzed even though they may not be considered for further actions.
   Spoofed packet may not only be generated to attack the SFC component
   at the SFC layer.  In fact spoofed packet may also target
   applications of the SF.  For example an attacker may also forge
   packet for HTTP based application - like a L7 firewall - in order to
   perform a slowloris [SLOWLORIS] like attack.  Note that in this case,
   such attacks are addressed in the Tenant's Users Data Plane section.
   The specificity here is that the attacker has a more advanced
   understanding of the processing of the SFC, and can thus be more

   When SFC traffic is not authenticated, an attacker may also modify
   on-path the packet.  By changing some metadata contained in the SFC
   Encapsulation, the attacker may test and discover the logic of the
   SFF.  Similarly, when the attacker is aware of the logic of a SFC
   component, the attacker may modify some metadata in order to modify
   the expected operation of the SFC.  Such example includes for example
   redirection to a SF which could result in overloading the SF and
   overall affect the complete SFC.  Similarly, the attacker may also
   create loops within the SFC.  Note that redirection may not occur
   only in a given SFC.  In fact, the attacker may use SFC branching to
   affect other SFC.  Another example would also include a redirection
   to a node owned by the attacker and which is completely outside the
   SFC.  Motivation for such redirection would be that the attacker has
   full administrator privileges on that node, whereas it only has
   limited capabilities on the corrupted node.  Such attack is a man-in-

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   the-middle attack.  The important thing to note is that in this case
   the traffic is brought outside the legitimate SFC domain.  In fact,
   performing a man-in-the-middle attack as described above means that
   the SFC domain has been extended.  This can be easily performed in
   case all node of the data center or the tenant's virtual network is
   likely to host a SFC component.  A similar scenario may also consider
   that the traffic could be redirected outside the data center or the
   tenant's virtual network if the routing of firewall rule enables such

   A direct consequence is that a corrupted SFC component may affect the
   whole SFC.  This also means that the trust of a given SFC decreases
   with the number of SF involved as each SF presents a surface of

   An attacker may also perform passive attacks by listening to traffic
   exchanged throughout the SFC Data Plane.  Such attacks are described
   in [RFC7258].  Metadata are associated to each packet.  These
   metadata are additional pieces of information not carried in the
   packet and necessary for each SF to operate.  As a result, metadata
   may contain private information such as identifiers or credentials.
   In addition, observing the traffic may provide information on the
   tenant's activity.  Note that encryption only may not prevent such
   attacks, as activity may be inferred by the traffic load.

6.  Security Requirements

   This section aims at providing environment security requirements.
   These requirements are derived from the generalization of the threat
   analysis described in Section 5.  More specifically, the threat
   analysis section was mostly illustrative, and its generalization
   leads us to the following requirements.

   Although the security requirements are derived from described
   threats, the scope of security should be understood in a much broader
   way than addressing threats.  In fact the primary purpose of the
   security requirements is to ensure the deployment of the SFC
   architecture can remain robust and stable.

   The goal of this section is to provide some security requirements
   that should be checked against any evolution of the deployment of SFC
   architecture.  The requirements should be understood and the risks of
   not following them should be evaluated with the current deployment as
   well as the foreseen evolutions.

   Similarly, the document provides means to evaluate the consequences
   of a security breach, as well as means to detect them.

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   The motivations for the security requirements are:

   a)  Preventing attacks

   b)  Preventing misconfigurations - as far as stability and security
       of the SFC architecture is concerned.

   c)  Providing means to evaluate the consequences of a security breach

   d)  Making possible to audit, and detect any misbehavior that may
       affect stability and security of the SFC.

6.1.  Plane Isolation Requirements

   Plane Isolation consists in limiting the surface of attack of the SFC
   Data Plane by controlling the interfaces between the SFC Data Plane
   and the other planes.

   Complete isolation of the planes is not possible, as there are still
   some communications that must be enabled in order to benefit from the
   benefits of SFC.  Typically the SFC Control Plane configures the SFC
   elements used by the SFC Data Plane.  Similarly, access to the SFC
   Control Plane may be performed remotely, in which case interaction
   between the SFC Tenant's User and the SFC Control Plane may be
   considered.  As a result, isolation should be understood as enabling
   communications between planes in a controlled way.

   This section lists the recommendations so communication between
   planes can be controlled.  This involves controlling communications
   between planes as well as controlling communication within a plane.

   The requirements listed below applies to all planes, whereas the
   following subsection are more specific to each plane, providing
   recommendations on the interface with the SFC Data Plane.

   REQ1:  In order to increase isolation every plane that communicates
          with another plane SHOULD use a dedicated interface.  In our
          case, the SFC Management Plane, the SFC Control Plane and the
          SFC Data Plane SHOULD use dedicated networks and dedicated
          interfaces.  Isolation of inter-plane communication may be
          enforced using different ways.  How isolation is enforced
          depends on the type of traffic, the network environment for
          example, and within a given SFC architecture different
          techniques may be used for the different planes.  One way to
          isolate communications is to use completely different network
          on dedicated NICS.  On the other hand, depending on the
          required level of isolation, a logical isolation may be
          performed using different IP addresses or ports with network

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          logically isolated - that is using for example different
          VxLAN, or GRE tunnels.  In this case, isolation relies on the
          trust associated to the different switches and router.  In
          case of a lake of trust on the on-path elements, authenticated
          encryption may be used to provide a logical isolation.  With
          authenticated encryption, trust is placed on the end points.
          Note also that encryption can also be used in combination of
          other isolation mechanisms in order to increase the level of

   REQ2:  Activity between planes SHOULD be monitored and regularly
          audited.  At least operations performed between the planes as
          well as the source and destination should be logged.  When
          possible the identity of the identities shoudl also be logged.
          Activity may be performed indepedently by the different planes
          as well as by different actors such as the SFC Tenants, te
          infrastructure provider.  The level of information available
          may also differ between planes and actors.

   REQ3:  Traffic and communications between planes SHOULD be filtered
          traffic or rate-limited.  Filtering and rate-limiting policies
          may be finer grained and may apply for a subset of traffic.

   The above requirements mostly corresponds to the architecture best
   current practice.  Isolation is mostly motivated to avoid the planes
   to interact on each other.  For example the load on the SFC Data
   Plane should not affect the SFC Control Plane and SFC Management
   Plane communications.  Such requirements are also current best

   Such recommendations are thus strongly recommended even in the case
   the two planes are considered to belong to trusted environments.

6.1.1.  SFC Control Plane Isolation

   In order to limit the risks of an attack from the SFC Control Plane,
   effort should be made in order to restrict the capabilities and the
   information provided by the SFC Data Plane to the SFC Control Plane
   to the authorized tenants only.  In this case the authorized tenants
   are the users or organizations responsible for the SFC domain.

   REQ4:  Tenants of the SFC Control Plane SHOULD authenticate in order
          to prevent tenant's usurpation or communication hijacking.

   REQ5:  Communications between SFC Control Plane and the SFC Data
          Plane MUST be authenticated and encrypted in order to preserve
          privacy.  The purpose of encryption in this case prevents an
          attacker to be aware of the action performed by the SFC

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          Control Plane.  Such information may be used to orchestrate an
          attack - especially when SFC component report their CPU/
          network load.

   REQ6:  Strong access control policies SHOULD be enforced.  Control
          SHOULD be performed on the engaged resource (e.g.  CPU,
          memory, disk access for example) and SHOULD be associated
          explicitly to authorized tenants.  By default, a tenant SHOULD
          be denied any access to resource, and access SHOULD be

   Given the SFC Control Plane traffic load that is expected to be light
   - at least compared to the SFC Tenant's Users Data Plane or the SFC
   Data Plane.  As a result, encryption is not expect to impact the
   performances of the SFC architecture.  Given the effort to migrate
   from an non authenticated (and non protected) communications to a
   protected communication, we recommend these requirements to be
   considered even in trusted environments.  By protecting these
   communications by design, the deployed SFC architecture is also ready
   for future expansion of the Control Plane outside the initial trusted
   domain.  This coudl typically includes the evoluation to multiple
   tenants as well as the inclusion of tenants that remotely access the
   SFC Control Plane.

   Access Control policies can be enforced in various ways.  One way
   could be to consider the systems of the SF to limit the resources
   associated to each tenants.  Other ways include the use of API in
   order to limit the scope of possible interactions between the SFC
   Control Plane and the SFC Data Plane.  This is one way to limit the
   possibilities of the tenants.  In addition, each of these actions
   should be associated an authorized tenant, as well as authorized
   parameters.  The use of API belongs to best practices and so is
   strongly recommended even in trusted environments.

   REQ7:  Audit SHOULD be performed regularly to check access control
          policies are still up-to-date and prevent non-authorized users
          to control the SFC Data Plane.

   The purpose of audits is to provide evidences when something went
   wrong.  As a result, audit facilities are expected to be provided
   even in trusted environments.

6.1.2.  SFC Management Plane Isolation

   The requirements for the SFC Control Plane and SFC Management Plane
   are similar.  The main difference of the interfaces between the SFC
   Management Plane and the SFC Control Plane is that it is less likely
   that APIs could be used to configure the different SFC components.

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   As a result, users of the SFC Management Plane are likely to have a
   broader and wider control over the SFC component.

   REQ8:  it is RECOMMENDED to enforce stronger authentication
          mechanisms (for example relying on hardware tokens or keys)
          and to limit the scope of administrative roles on a per
          component basis.

   REQ9:  SFC Control Plane and SFC Management Plane may present some
          overlap.  Each SFC component MUST have clear policies in case
          these two planes enter in conflict.

6.1.3.  Tenant's Users Data Plane Isolation

   The Tenant's Users Data Plane is supposed to have less restricted
   access control than the other SFC Management Plane and SFC Control
   Planes.  A typical use case could be that each tenant are controlling
   and managing the SFC in order to provide services to their associated
   users.  The number of users interacting with the SFC Data Plane is
   expected to be larger than the number of tenants interacting with the
   SFC Control and SFC Management Planes.  In addition, the scope of
   communications initiated or terminating at the user end points is
   likely to be unlimited compared to the scope of communications
   between the tenants and the SFC Control Plane or SFC Management
   Plane.  In such cases, the tenant may be provided two roles.  One to
   grant access to the SFC, and another one to control and manage the
   SFC.  These two roles should be able to interact and communicate.

   REQ10: Users SHOULD be authenticated, and only being granted access
          to the SFC if authorized.  Authorization may be provided by
          the SFC itself or outside the SFC.

   REQ11: Filtering policies SHOULD prevent access to a user, or traffic
          when a malicious behavior is noticed.  A malicious activity
          may be noticed once a given behavioral pattern is detected or
          when unexpected load is monitored in the SFC Data Plane.

   REQ12: Tenant's User Plane SHOULD be monitored, in order to detect
          malicious behaviors.

   REQ13: When SFC is used by multiple tenants, each tenant's traffic
          SHOULD be isolated based on authenticated information.  More
          specifically, the use of a Classifier that can easily be
          spoofed like an IP address SHOULD NOT be used.

   REQ14: It is RECOMMENDED that user's access authorization be
          performed outside the SFC.  In fact granting access and
          treating the traffic are two different functions, and we

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          RECOMMEND they remain separated.  Then, splitting these two
          functions makes it possible for a tester to perform tests of
          an potential attacker, without any contextual information.
          More specifically, having a traffic identified as associated
          to test by the SFC reduces the scope of the tests simply
          because an attacker will not be considered as a tester.  For
          that reason, we RECOMMEND authorization is performed outside
          the SFC, and SFC deployment may not be designed to
          authenticate end users.

   The remaining requirements are associated to monitoring the network
   and providing interactions between the access and the SFC.  This
   interaction may be provided outside SFC itself.

6.2.  SFC Data Plane Requirements

   This section provides requirements and recommendation for the SFC
   Data Plane.

   REQ15: Communications within the SFC Data Plane SHOULD be
          authenticated in order to prevent the traffic to be modified
          or injected by an attacker.  As a result, authentication
          includes the SFC Encapsulation as well as the SFC payload.

   REQ16: Communication MUST NOT reveal privacy sensitive metadata.

   REQ17: The metadata provided in the communication MUST be limited in
          in term of volume as to limit the amplification factor as well
          as fragmentation.

   REQ18: Metadata SHOULD NOT be considered by the SFF for forwarding
          decision.  In fact, the inputs considered for switching the
          packet to the next SFF or a SF should involve a minimum
          processing operation to be read.  More specifically, these
          inputs are expected fixed length value fields in the SFC
          Encapsulation header rather than any TLV format.

   REQ19: When multiple tenants share a given infrastructure, the
          traffic associated to each tenant MUST be authenticated and
          respective Tenant's Users Planes MUST remain isolated.  More
          specifically, if for example, a SFC Classifier is shared
          between multiple tenants.  The Classifier used to associate
          the SFC MUST be authenticated.  This is to limit the use of
          spoofed Classifiers.  In any case, the SFC component that
          receives traffic from multiple tenants is assumed to be

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   REQ20: Being a member of a SFC domain SHOULD be explicitly mentioned
          by the node and means should be provided so the SFC domain the
          node belongs to may be checked.  Such requirement intends to
          prevent a packet to go outside a SFC domain, for example in
          the case of a man-in-the-middle attacks, where a redirection
          occurs outside the SFC domain.  It is expected that most
          deployment will rely on border / port mechanisms that prevent
          outsider users from injecting packets with spoofed metadata.
          Although such mechanisms are strongly recommended to deploy,
          in case of failure, they do not prevent man-in-the-middle
          attack outside the SFC domain.

   Authentication of the traffic within the SFC Data Plane is
   particularly recommended in an open environment where third party SF
   or SFF are involved.  It can also be recommended when a strong
   isolation of the traffic is crucial for the infrastructure or to meet
   some level of certification.  In addition, authentication may also be
   performed using various techniques.  The whole packet may be
   authenticated or limited to some parts (like the flow ID).
   Authenticating the traffic and how or what to authenticate is a trade
   off between the risk associated and the cost of encryption.  When
   possible we recommend to authenticate, but we also consider that the
   price may be too high in controlled and small trusted environment.

   Metadata is an important part of the SFC architecture, and their
   impact on security should be closely evaluated.  It is the
   responsibility of the SFC administrator to evaluate the privacy
   associated by the metadata - section 5.2.2 of [RFC6973] - and
   according to this evaluation to consider appropriated mechanisms to
   prevent the privacy leakage.  Mechanisms should be provided even
   though they may not be activated.

   As a general guidance exposing privacy sensitive metadata in any
   communications between two any SFC component should be avoided.  [One
   way, for example to avoid exposing privacy sensitive metadata is to
   include a reference to the metadata instead of the metadata itself.
   Another way could be to encrypt the metadata itself - but that is
   part of the solution space.]  Applying this principle prevents any
   private oriented data to be leaked.  This requirement is mandatory
   when the SFC is not deployed in a trusted environment.

   When exposition of the privacy sensitive metadata cannot be avoided
   and you are in a trusted domain, then exposing privacy sensitive
   metadata may be considered as long as they do not leak outside the
   boundaries of the trusted environment.  In this case, the security is
   delegated to the security policies of the trusted environment
   boundaries, that may be outside the scope of SFC.  More especially,
   the security policies may be for example enforced by a firewall.  In

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   this specific case, the trusted environment MUST prevent leakage of
   the metadata out of the trusted environment and MUST ensure that
   untrusted node cannot access in any way the communications within the
   trusted environment.

   The reason this requirement is set to MUST is to specify that if one
   does not follow the requirement it is at its your own risk and must
   provide the necessary means to prevent any leak - in our case
   enforcing the necessary security policies that your environment /
   deployment needs.

   Similarly, it is the responsibility of the administrator to define
   what an acceptable size for metadata is.  Even in trusted
   environment, we recommend the SFC administrator be able to define and
   change this level.

   Processing metadata by the SFF seems also expensive, and it is the
   responsibility of the SFC administrator to evaluate whether
   processing metadata by the SFF may impact the SFC architecture.  In
   addition, metadata are expected to be associated to SF as opposed to
   the forwarding information that are associated to the SFF.  These
   inputs have different functions, are associated to different
   processing rules, and may be administrated by different parties.  It
   is thus part of the general good practise to split these
   functionalities.  Optimization may require to combine the analysis of
   metadata and forwarding information, but this should be handled

   Assertion of belonging to a security domain, is especially
   recommended in open environments.  This may also partly be addressed
   by node authenticating.

   In addition, the following operational requirements have been

   REQ21: SFC components SHOULD be uniquely identified and have their
          own cryptographic material.  In other words the use of a
          shared secret for all nodes SHOULD NOT be considered as one
          corrupted node would be able to impersonate any node of the
          SFC Data Plane.  This is especially useful for audit.

   REQ22: Activity in the SFC Data Plane MUST be monitored and audited
          regularly.  Audit and log analysis is especially useful to
          check that SFC architecture assessments.  They can be useful
          to detect a security breach for example before it is being
          discovered and exploited by a malicious user.  Monitoring the
          system is also complementary in order to provide alarms when a
          suspicious activity is detected.  Monitoring enables the

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          system to react to unexpected behaviors in a dynamic way.
          Both activities are complementary as monitoring enables to
          counter suspicious behavior and audit may detect
          misconfiguration or deep causes of a malicious behavior.  For
          these reasons, audit and monitoring facilities are expected
          even in trusted environment.

   REQ23: Isolate the Plane with border and firewall to restrict access
          of SFC components to legitimate traffic.  More specifically,
          SFC components are supposed to be accessed only via dedicated
          interfaces.  Outside these interfaces, inbound or outbound
          traffic SHOULD be rejected.

6.3.  Additional Requirements

   REQ24: SFC Encapsulation SHOULD carry some identification so it can
          be associated to the appropriated SFP as well as its position
          within the SFC or SFP.  Indicating the SFP ID may be
          sufficient as long as a SFP can uniquely be associated to a
          single SFC.  Otherwise, the SFC should be also somehow
          indicated.  This is especially useful for audit and to avoid
          traffic coming from one SFC to mix with another SFC.
          Authentication of the SFP ID is one way to enforce SFP ID
          uniqueness.  This may not be mandatory, but large deployment
          or deployment that are involving multiple parties are expected
          enforce this.  In fact assuming SFP ID will have no collision
          is an hypothesis that may be hard to fulfill over time.

   REQ25: Although this requirement is implementation specific, it is
          RECOMMENDED that SFF and SF keep separate roles.  SFF should
          be focused on SF forwarding.  As a result, they are expected
          to access a limited information from the packet - mostly fixed
          size information.  SF on the other hand are service oriented,
          and are likely to access all SFC information which includes
          metadata for example.  The reasons to keep these functions are
          clearly different and may involve different entities.  For
          example, SF management or SF configuration may involve
          different administrators as those orchestrating the SFC.

   REQ26: SFC Encapsulation SHOULD be integrity protected to prevent
          attackers from modifying the SFP ID.  See Data Plane
          communication Requirements and considerations)

7.  Security Considerations

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8.  Privacy Considerations

9.  IANA Considerations

10.  Acknowledgments

   The authors would like to thank Joel Halpern, Mohamed Boucadair and
   Linda Dunbar for their valuable comments.  Similarly the authors
   would also like to thank Martin Stiemerling for its careful review as
   well as its recommendations.

11.  References

11.1.  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,

   [RFC4949]  Shirey, R., "Internet Security Glossary, Version 2",
              FYI 36, RFC 4949, DOI 10.17487/RFC4949, August 2007,

   [RFC6959]  McPherson, D., Baker, F., and J. Halpern, "Source Address
              Validation Improvement (SAVI) Threat Scope", RFC 6959,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC6959, May 2013,

   [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,

   [RFC7258]  Farrell, S. and H. Tschofenig, "Pervasive Monitoring Is an
              Attack", BCP 188, RFC 7258, DOI 10.17487/RFC7258, May
              2014, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc7258>.

   [RFC7498]  Quinn, P., Ed. and T. Nadeau, Ed., "Problem Statement for
              Service Function Chaining", RFC 7498,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC7498, April 2015,

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11.2.  Informative References

              Quinn, P. and U. Elzur, "Network Service Header", draft-
              ietf-sfc-nsh-01 (work in progress), July 2015.

              Halpern, J. and C. Pignataro, "Service Function Chaining
              (SFC) Architecture", draft-ietf-sfc-architecture-11 (work
              in progress), July 2015.

              Li, H., Wu, Q., Huang, O., Boucadair, M., Jacquenet, C.,
              Haeffner, W., Lee, S., Parker, R., Dunbar, L., Malis, A.,
              Halpern, J., Reddy, T., and P. Patil, "Service Function
              Chaining (SFC) Control Plane Components & Requirements",
              draft-ietf-sfc-control-plane-00 (work in progress), August

              Wikipedia, "Slowloris", <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/

Authors' Addresses

   Daniel Migault (editor)
   8400 boulevard Decarie
   Montreal, QC   H4P 2N2

   Phone: +1 514-452-2160
   Email: daniel.migault@ericsson.com

   Carlos Pignataro
   Cisco Systems, Inc.
   7200-12 Kit Creek Road
   Research Triangle Park, NC  27709

   Phone: +1 919-392-7428
   Email: cpignata@cisco.com

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   Tirumaleswar Reddy
   Cisco Systems, Inc.
   Cessna Business Park, Varthur Hobli
   Bangalore, Karnataka  560103

   Phone: +91 9886
   Email: tireddy@cisco.com

   Christopher Inacio
   CERT, Software Engineering Institute, Carnegie Mellon University
   4500 5th Ave
   Pittsburgh, PA  15213

   Phone: +1 412-268-3098
   Email: inacio@cert.org

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