Skip to main content

Last Call Review of draft-masotta-tftpexts-windowsize-opt-10

Request Review of draft-masotta-tftpexts-windowsize-opt
Requested revision No specific revision (document currently at 13)
Type Last Call Review
Team Security Area Directorate (secdir)
Deadline 2014-08-04
Requested 2014-07-10
Authors Patrick Masotta
I-D last updated 2014-07-17
Completed reviews Genart Last Call review of -10 by Joel M. Halpern (diff)
Secdir Last Call review of -10 by David Waltermire (diff)
Opsdir Last Call review of -10 by Sarah Banks (diff)
Assignment Reviewer David Waltermire
State Completed
Request Last Call review on draft-masotta-tftpexts-windowsize-opt by Security Area Directorate Assigned
Reviewed revision 10 (document currently at 13)
Result Has issues
Completed 2014-07-17
I have reviewed this document as part of the security directorate's ongoing
effort to review all IETF documents being processed by the IESG.  These
comments were written primarily for the benefit of the security area directors.
 Document editors and WG chairs should treat these comments just like any other
last call comments.

Status: Almost ready - There are a few security and other related concerns with
this draft summarized below.

The draft defines a method for overriding the default step-wise acknowledgement
(ACK) behavior of TFTP. This extension suppresses the standard step-wise ACK
response until a negotiated window size of blocks have been sent. A single ACK
is then sent indicating that all blocks in the window were transmitted. This
results in a general reduction in the number of ACKs over the exchange,
allowing for higher transfer rates than using block size negotiation alone

Security Concerns:

The specific security considerations statement appears to be copied from
RFC2347. It acknowledges that TFTP does not have any explicit security
mechanism and that the extension does not add any additional security risk
beyond the base specification. Instead of copying the text from the other RFCs,
this text should be replaced with text that references the security
considerations from RFC1350, RFC2347, and probably RFC5405.

Additionally, it seems like this option requires a state machine, involving
both the client and server, to track the exchange of blocks within a window to
support retransmission of failed blocks. If I am understanding this correctly,
it looks like a potential attack vector exists where a malicious client (or
server) could cause abnormal consumption of system and network resources
through the use of large window sizes across a number of sessions. This
malicious actor would need to selectively cause retransmission of blocks that
still conform with max retry, timeout, and delay constraints. In part, the
second paragraph (and the following example) in the "Congestion and Error
Control" section provide some error handling guidance that also addresses this
security consideration. At minimum a discussion of this attack vector and a
reference back to this explanation should be included in the security
considerations section. It would also be valuable to include some discussion on
reasonable limits for window sizes, retry, timeout, and delay parameters, or at
least some guidelines around determining them based on the characteristics of
the data link layer protocol used.

Other concerns:

In the abstract:

- The abstract should mention that this memo extends RFC1350 by adding a new
option extension for ... based on RFC2347.

In section "Windowsize Option Specification":

- The text in this section should be updated to make use of RFC2119 capitalized
keywords. - A specification for the Read and Write requests is provided along
with an example. The specification of the corresponding OACK should be provided
with the same degree of rigor. - The draft describes the ACK behavior for data
exchange in the definition of the windowsize "#blocks" field. The actual
requirements should be defined using RFC2119 language in a new paragraph after
the discussion of option negotiation. This new text should express the actual
windowing behavior requirements for implementations of the protocol extension.
It should also make explicit which block number to send in the ACK, which I
infer to be the last block sent in the window.

General nits:

There are a number of grammatical and punctuation issues throughout the
document. Some of these make it more difficult to understand the document. A
quick editorial pass through the document should address this concern. I am
happy to provide a few specifics/suggestions in this regard if the author would

Also, the nits tool reported:
- An issue with 3 pages being longer than the required 58 lines per page.
- The abstract contains bracketed references. See previous comment.
- Whitespace warnings

Dave Waltermire