Skip to main content

Locator/ID Separation Protocol (LISP) Threat Analysis
RFC 7835

Document Type RFC - Informational (April 2016)
Authors Damien Saucez , Luigi Iannone , Olivier Bonaventure
Last updated 2016-04-29
RFC stream Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
Additional resources Mailing list discussion
IESG Responsible AD Deborah Brungard
Send notices to (None)
RFC 7835
Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)                         D. Saucez
Request for Comments: 7835                                         INRIA
Category: Informational                                       L. Iannone
ISSN: 2070-1721                                        Telecom ParisTech
                                                          O. Bonaventure
                                        Universite catholique de Louvain
                                                              April 2016

         Locator/ID Separation Protocol (LISP) Threat Analysis


   This document provides a threat analysis of the Locator/ID Separation
   Protocol (LISP).

Status of This Memo

   This document is not an Internet Standards Track specification; it is
   published for informational purposes.

   This document is a product of the Internet Engineering Task Force
   (IETF).  It represents the consensus of the IETF community.  It has
   received public review and has been approved for publication by the
   Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG).  Not all documents
   approved by the IESG are a candidate for any level of Internet
   Standard; see Section 2 of RFC 5741.

   Information about the current status of this document, any errata,
   and how to provide feedback on it may be obtained at

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
   ( in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
   to this document.  Code Components extracted from this document must
   include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of
   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
   described in the Simplified BSD License.

Saucez, et al.                Informational                     [Page 1]
RFC 7835                      LISP Threats                    April 2016

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   2.  Threat Model  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     2.1.  Operation Modes of Attackers  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
       2.1.1.  On-Path vs. Off-Path Attackers  . . . . . . . . . . .   4
       2.1.2.  Internal vs. External Attackers . . . . . . . . . . .   4
       2.1.3.  Live vs. Time-Shifted Attackers . . . . . . . . . . .   5
       2.1.4.  Control-Plane vs. Data-Plane Attackers  . . . . . . .   5
       2.1.5.  Cross-Mode Attackers  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     2.2.  Threat Categories . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
       2.2.1.  Replay Attack . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
       2.2.2.  Packet Manipulation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
       2.2.3.  Packet Interception and Suppression . . . . . . . . .   6
       2.2.4.  Spoofing  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
       2.2.5.  Rogue Attack  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
       2.2.6.  Denial-of-Service (DoS) Attack  . . . . . . . . . . .   7
       2.2.7.  Performance Attack  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
       2.2.8.  Intrusion Attack  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
       2.2.9.  Amplification Attack  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
       2.2.10. Passive Monitoring Attacks  . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
       2.2.11. Multi-category Attacks  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   3.  Attack Vectors  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     3.1.  Gleaning  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     3.2.  Locator Status Bits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
     3.3.  Map-Version . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
     3.4.  Routing Locator Reachability  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
     3.5.  Instance ID . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
     3.6.  Interworking  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
     3.7.  Map-Request Messages  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
     3.8.  Map-Reply Messages  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13
     3.9.  Map-Register Messages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
     3.10. Map-Notify Messages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
   4.  Note on Privacy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
   5.  Threat Mitigation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16
   6.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16
   7.  References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
     7.1.  Normative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
     7.2.  Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
   Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18
   Authors' Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19

Saucez, et al.                Informational                     [Page 2]
RFC 7835                      LISP Threats                    April 2016

1.  Introduction

   The Locator/ID Separation Protocol (LISP) is specified in [RFC6830].
   This document provides an assessment of the potential security
   threats for the current LISP specifications if LISP is deployed in
   the Internet (i.e., a public non-trustable environment).

   The document is composed of three main parts.  The first part defines
   a general threat model that attackers use to mount attacks.  The
   second part, using this threat model, describes the techniques based
   on LISP and its architecture that attackers may use to construct
   attacks.  The third part discusses mitigation techniques and general
   solutions to protect LISP and its architecture from attacks.

   This document does not consider all the possible uses of LISP as
   discussed in [RFC6830] and [RFC7215] and does not cover threats due
   to specific implementations.  The document focuses on LISP unicast,
   including as well LISP Interworking [RFC6832], LISP Map-Server
   [RFC6833], and LISP Map-Versioning [RFC6834].  Additional threats may
   be discovered in the future while deployment continues.  The reader
   is assumed to be familiar with these documents for understanding the
   present document.

   This document assumes a generic IP service and does not discuss the
   difference, from a security viewpoint, between using IPv4 or IPv6.

2.  Threat Model

   This document assumes that attackers can be located anywhere in the
   Internet (either in LISP sites or outside LISP sites) and that
   attacks can be mounted either by a single attacker or by the
   collusion of several attackers.

   An attacker is a malicious entity that performs the action of
   attacking a target in a network where LISP is (partially) deployed by
   leveraging LISP and/or its architecture.

   An attack is the action of performing an illegitimate action on a
   target in a network where LISP is (partially) deployed.

   The target of an attack is the entity (i.e., a device connected to
   the network or a network) that is aimed to undergo the consequences
   of an attack.  Other entities can potentially undergo side effects of
   an attack, even though they are not directly targeted by the attack.
   The target of an attack can be selected specifically, i.e., a
   particular entity, or arbitrarily, i.e., any entity.  Finally, an
   attacker can aim to attack one or several targets with a single

Saucez, et al.                Informational                     [Page 3]
RFC 7835                      LISP Threats                    April 2016

   Section 2.1 specifies the different modes of operation that attackers
   can follow to mount attacks, and Section 2.2 specifies the different
   categories of attacks that attackers can build.

2.1.  Operation Modes of Attackers

   In this document, attackers are classified according to their modes
   of operation, i.e., the temporal and spacial diversity of the
   attacker.  These modes are not mutually exclusive; they can be used
   by attackers in any combination, and other modes may be discovered in
   the future.  Further, attackers are not at all bound by our
   classification scheme, so implementers and those deploying will
   always need to do additional risk analysis for themselves.

2.1.1.  On-Path vs. Off-Path Attackers

   On-path attackers, also known as Men-in-the-Middle, are able to
   intercept and modify packets between legitimate communicating
   entities.  On-path attackers are located either directly on the
   normal communication path (either by gaining access to a node on the
   path or by placing themselves directly on the path) or outside the
   location path but manage to deviate (or gain a copy of) packets sent
   between the communication entities.  On-path attackers hence mount
   their attacks by modifying packets initially sent legitimately
   between communication entities.

   An attacker is called an off-path attacker if it does not have access
   to packets exchanged during the communication or if there is no
   communication.  In order for their attacks to succeed, off-path
   attackers must hence generate packets and inject them in the network.

2.1.2.  Internal vs. External Attackers

   An internal attacker launches its attack from a node located within a
   legitimate LISP site.  Such an attacker is either a legitimate node
   of the site or it exploits a vulnerability to gain access to a
   legitimate node in the site.  Because of their location, internal
   attackers are trusted by the site they are in.

   On the contrary, an external attacker launches its attacks from the
   outside of a legitimate LISP site.

Saucez, et al.                Informational                     [Page 4]
RFC 7835                      LISP Threats                    April 2016

2.1.3.  Live vs. Time-Shifted Attackers

   A live attacker mounts attacks for which it must remain connected as
   long as the attack is mounted.  In other words, the attacker must
   remain active for the whole duration of the attack.  Consequently,
   the attack ends as soon as the attacker (or the used attack vector)
   is neutralized.

   On the contrary, a time-shifted attacker mounts attacks that remain
   active after it disconnects from the Internet.

2.1.4.  Control-Plane vs. Data-Plane Attackers

   A control-plane attacker mounts its attack by using control-plane
   functionalities, typically the mapping system.

   A data-plane attacker mounts its attack by using data-plane

   As there is no complete isolation between the control plane and the
   data plane, an attacker can operate in the control plane (or data
   plane) to mount attacks targeting the data plane (or control plane)
   or keep the attacked and targeted planes at the same layer (i.e.,
   from control plane to control plane or from data plane to data

2.1.5.  Cross-Mode Attackers

   The modes of operation used by attackers are not mutually exclusive;
   hence, attackers can combine them to mount attacks.

   For example, an attacker can launch an attack using the control plane
   directly from within a LISP site to which it is able to get temporary
   access (i.e., internal + control-plane attacker) to create a
   vulnerability on its target and later on (i.e., time-shifted +
   external attacker) mount an attack on the data plane (i.e., data-
   plane attacker) that leverages the vulnerability.

2.2.  Threat Categories

   Attacks can be classified according to the eleven following
   categories.  These categories are not mutually exclusive and can be
   used by attackers in any combination.

2.2.1.  Replay Attack

   A replay attack happens when an attacker retransmits a packet (or a
   sequence of packets) without modifying it.

Saucez, et al.                Informational                     [Page 5]
RFC 7835                      LISP Threats                    April 2016

2.2.2.  Packet Manipulation

   A packet manipulation attack happens when an attacker receives a
   packet, modifies the packet (i.e., changes some information contained
   in the packet), and finally transmits the packet to its final
   destination, which can be the initial destination of the packet or a
   different one.

2.2.3.  Packet Interception and Suppression

   In a packet interception and suppression attack, the attacker
   captures the packet and drops it before it can reach its final

2.2.4.  Spoofing

   With a spoofing attack, the attacker injects packets in the network
   pretending to be another node.  Spoofing attacks are made by forging
   source addresses in packets.

   It should be noted that with LISP, packet spoofing is similar to
   spoofing with any other existing tunneling technology currently
   deployed in the Internet.  Generally, the term "spoofed packet"
   indicates a packet containing a source IP address that is not the
   actual originator of the packet.  Hence, since LISP uses
   encapsulation, the spoofed address could be in the outer header as
   well as in the inner header; this translates to two types of

   Inner address spoofing:  The attacker uses encapsulation and uses a
      spoofed source address in the inner packet.  In case of data-plane
      LISP encapsulation, that corresponds to spoofing the source
      Endpoint Identifier (EID) address of the encapsulated packet.

   Outer address spoofing:  The attacker does not use encapsulation and
      spoofs the source address of the packet.  In case of data-plane
      LISP encapsulation, that corresponds to spoofing the source
      Routing Locator (RLOC) address of the encapsulated packet.

   Note that the two types of spoofing are not mutually exclusive;
   rather, all combinations are possible and could be used to perform
   different kinds of attacks.  For example, an attacker outside a LISP
   site can generate a packet with a forged source IP address (i.e.,
   outer address spoofing) and forward it to a LISP destination.  The
   packet is then eventually encapsulated by a Proxy Ingress Tunnel
   Router (PITR) so that once encapsulated, the attack corresponds to an
   inner address spoofing.  One can also imagine an attacker forging a

Saucez, et al.                Informational                     [Page 6]
RFC 7835                      LISP Threats                    April 2016

   packet with encapsulation where both inner and outer source addresses
   are spoofed.

   It is important to note that the combination of inner and outer
   spoofing makes the identification of the attacker complex as the
   packet may not contain information that allows detection of the
   origin of the attack.

2.2.5.  Rogue Attack

   In a rogue attack, the attacker manages to appear as a legitimate
   source of information, without faking its identity (as opposed to a
   spoofing attacker).

2.2.6.  Denial-of-Service (DoS) Attack

   A DoS attack aims to disrupt a specific targeted service to make it
   unable to operate properly.

2.2.7.  Performance Attack

   A performance attack aims to exploit computational resources (e.g.,
   memory, processor) of a targeted node so as to make it unable to
   operate properly.

2.2.8.  Intrusion Attack

   In an intrusion attack, the attacker gains remote access to a
   resource (e.g., a host, a router, or a network) or information that
   it legitimately should not have accessed.  Intrusion attacks can lead
   to privacy leakages.

2.2.9.  Amplification Attack

   In an amplification attack, the traffic generated by the target of
   the attack in response to the attack is larger than the traffic that
   the attacker must generate.

   In some cases, the data plane can be several orders of magnitude
   faster than the control plane at processing packets.  This difference
   can be exploited to overload the control plane via the data plane
   without overloading the data plane.

2.2.10.  Passive Monitoring Attacks

   An attacker can use pervasive monitoring, which is a technical attack
   [RFC7258] that targets information about LISP traffic that may or may
   not be used to mount other types of attacks.

Saucez, et al.                Informational                     [Page 7]
RFC 7835                      LISP Threats                    April 2016

2.2.11.  Multi-category Attacks

   Attack categories are not mutually exclusive, and any combination can
   be used to perform specific attacks.

   For example, one can mount a rogue attack to perform a performance
   attack starving the memory of an Ingress Tunnel Router (ITR)
   resulting in a DoS on the ITR.

3.  Attack Vectors

   This section presents attack techniques that may be used by attackers
   when leveraging LISP and/or its architecture.

3.1.  Gleaning

   To reduce the time required to obtain a mapping, the optional
   gleaning mechanism defined for LISP allows an xTR (Ingress and/or
   Egress Tunnel Router) to directly learn a mapping from the LISP-
   encapsulated data packets and the Map-Request packets that it
   receives.  LISP-encapsulated data packets contain a source RLOC,
   destination RLOC, source EID, and destination EID.  When an xTR
   receives an encapsulated data packet coming from a source EID for
   which it does not already know a mapping, it may insert the mapping
   between the source RLOC and the source EID in its EID-to-RLOC cache.
   The same technique can be used when an xTR receives a Map-Request as
   the Map-Request also contains a source EID address and a source RLOC.
   Once a gleaned entry has been added to the EID-to-RLOC cache, the xTR
   sends a Map-Request to retrieve the actual mapping for the gleaned
   EID from the mapping system.

   If a packet injected by an off-path attacker and with a spoofed inner
   address is gleaned by an xTR, then the attacker may divert the
   traffic meant to be delivered to the spoofed EID as long as the
   gleaned entry is used by the xTR.  This attack can be used as part of
   replay, packet manipulation, packet interception and suppression, or
   DoS attacks as the packets are sent to the attacker.

   If the packet sent by the attacker contains a spoofed outer address
   instead of a spoofed inner address, then it can achieve a DoS or a
   performance attack as the traffic normally destined to the attacker
   will be redirected to the spoofed source RLOC.  Such traffic may
   overload the owner of the spoofed source RLOC, preventing it from
   operating properly.

   If the packet injected uses both inner and outer spoofing, the
   attacker can achieve a spoofing, a performance, or an amplification
   attack as traffic normally destined to the spoofed EID address will

Saucez, et al.                Informational                     [Page 8]
RFC 7835                      LISP Threats                    April 2016

   be sent to the spoofed RLOC address.  If the attacked LISP site also
   generates traffic to the spoofed EID address, such traffic may have a
   positive amplification factor.

   A gleaning attack does not only impact the data plane but can also
   have repercussions on the control plane as a Map-Request is sent
   after the creation of a gleaned entry.  The attacker can then achieve
   DoS and performance attacks on the control plane.  For example, if an
   attacker sends a packet for each address of a prefix not yet cached
   in the EID-to-RLOC cache of an xTR, the xTR will potentially send a
   Map-Request for each such packet until the mapping is installed,
   which leads to an over-utilization of the control plane as each
   packet generates a control-plane event.  In order for this attack to
   succeed, the attacker may not need to use spoofing.  This issue can
   occur even if gleaning is turned off since whether or not gleaning is
   used, the ITR may need to send a Map-Request in response to incoming
   packets whose EID is not currently in the cache.

   Gleaning attacks fundamentally involve a time-shifted mode of
   operation as the attack may last as long as the gleaned entry is kept
   by the targeted xTR.  [RFC6830] recommends storing the gleaned
   entries for only a few seconds, which limits the duration of the

   Gleaning attacks always involve external data-plane attackers but
   result in attacks on either the control plane or data plane.

   Note that the outer spoofed address does not need to be the RLOC of a
   LISP site; it may be any address.

3.2.  Locator Status Bits

   When the L bit in the LISP header is set to 1, it indicates that the
   second 32-bit longword of the LISP header contains the Locator-
   Status-Bits (LSBs).  In this field, each bit position reflects the
   status of one of the RLOCs mapped to the source EID found in the
   encapsulated packet.  The reaction of a LISP xTR that receives such a
   packet is left as an operational choice in [RFC6830].

   When an attacker sends a LISP-encapsulated packet with an
   illegitimately crafted LSB to an xTR, it can influence the xTR's
   choice of the locators for the prefix associated with the source EID.
   In case of an off-path attacker, the attacker must inject a forged
   packet in the network with a spoofed inner address.  An on-path
   attacker can manipulate the LSB of legitimate packets passing through
   it and hence does not need to use spoofing.  Instead of manipulating
   the LSB field, an on-path attacker can also obtain the same result of
   injecting packets with invalid LSB values by replaying packets.

Saucez, et al.                Informational                     [Page 9]
RFC 7835                      LISP Threats                    April 2016

   The LSB field can be leveraged to mount a DoS attack by either
   declaring all RLOCs as unreachable (all LSBs set to 0), concentrating
   all the traffic to one RLOC (e.g., all but one LSB set to 0), and
   hence overloading the RLOC concentrating all the traffic from the
   xTR, or by forcing packets to be sent to RLOCs that are actually not
   reachable (e.g., invert LSB values).

   The LSB field can also be used to mount a replay, a packet
   manipulation, or a packet interception and suppression attack.
   Indeed, if the attacker manages to be on the path between the xTR and
   one of the RLOCs specified in the mapping, forcing packets to go via
   that RLOC implies that the attacker will gain access to the packets.

   Attacks using the LSB fundamentally involve a time-shifted mode of
   operation as the attack may last as long as the reachability
   information gathered from the LSB is used by the xTR to decide the
   RLOCs to be used.

3.3.  Map-Version

   When the Map-Version bit of the LISP header is set to 1, it indicates
   that the low-order 24 bits of the first 32-bit longword of the LISP
   header contain a Source and Destination Map-Version.  When a LISP xTR
   receives a LISP-encapsulated packet with the Map-Version bit set to
   1, the following actions are taken:

   o  It compares the Destination Map-Version found in the header with
      the current version of its own configured EID-to-RLOC mapping for
      the destination EID found in the encapsulated packet.  If the
      received Destination Map-Version is smaller (i.e., older) than the
      current version, the Egress Tunnel Router (ETR) should apply the
      Solicit-Map-Request (SMR) procedure described in [RFC6830] and
      send a Map-Request with the SMR bit set.

   o  If a mapping exists in the EID-to-RLOC cache for the source EID,
      then it compares the Map-Version of that entry with the Source
      Map-Version found in the header of the packet.  If the stored
      mapping is older (i.e., the Map-Version is smaller), than the
      source version of the LISP-encapsulated packet, the xTR, should
      send a Map-Request for the source EID.

   A cross-mode attacker can use the Map-Version bit to mount a DoS
   attack, an amplification attack, or a spoofing attack.  For instance,
   if the mapping cached at the xTR is outdated, the xTR will send a
   Map-Request to retrieve the new mapping, which can yield to a DoS
   attack (by excess of signaling traffic) or an amplification attack if
   the data-plane packet sent by the attacker is smaller, or otherwise
   uses fewer resources, than the control-plane packets sent in response

Saucez, et al.                Informational                    [Page 10]
RFC 7835                      LISP Threats                    April 2016

   to the attacker's packet.  With a spoofing attack, and if the xTR
   considers that the spoofed ITR has an outdated mapping, it will send
   an SMR to the spoofed ITR, which can result in a performance,
   amplification, or DoS attack as well.

   Map-Version attackers are inherently cross-mode as the Map-Version is
   a method to put control information in the data plane.  Moreover,
   this vector involves live attackers.  Nevertheless, on-path attackers
   do not have a specific advantage over off-path attackers.

3.4.  Routing Locator Reachability

   The Nonce-Present and Echo-Nonce bits in the LISP header are used to
   verify the reachability of an xTR.  A testing xTR sets the Echo-Nonce
   and the Nonce-Present bits in LISP-encapsulated data packets and
   includes a random nonce in the LISP header of the packets.  Upon
   reception of these packets, the tested xTR stores the nonce and
   echoes it whenever it returns a LISP-encapsulated data packet to the
   testing xTR.  The reception of the echoed nonce confirms that the
   tested xTR is reachable.

   An attacker can interfere with the reachability test by sending two
   different types of packets:

   1.  LISP-encapsulated data packets with the Nonce-Present bit set and
       a random nonce.  Such packets are normally used in response to a
       reachability test.

   2.  LISP-encapsulated data packets with the Nonce-Present and the
       Echo-Nonce bits both set.  These packets will force the receiving
       ETR to store the received nonce and echo it in the LISP-
       encapsulated packets that it sends.  These packets are normally
       used as a trigger for a reachability test.

   The first type of packets are used to make xTRs think that another
   xTR is reachable when it is not.  It is hence a way to mount a DoS
   attack (i.e., the ITR will send its packet to a non-reachable ETR
   when it should use another one).

   The second type of packets could be exploited to attack the nonce-
   based reachability test.  If the attacker sends a continuous flow of
   packets that each have a different random nonce, the ETR that
   receives such packets will continuously change the nonce that it
   returns to the remote ITR, which can yield to a performance attack.
   If the remote ITR tries a nonce reachability test, this test may fail
   because the ETR may echo an invalid nonce.  This hence yields to a
   DoS attack.

Saucez, et al.                Informational                    [Page 11]
RFC 7835                      LISP Threats                    April 2016

   In the case of an on-path attacker, a packet manipulation attack is
   necessary to mount the attack.  To mount such an attack, an off-path
   attacker must mount an outer address spoofing attack.

   If an xTR chooses to periodically check with active probes the
   liveness of entries in its EID-to-RLOC cache (as described in
   Section 6.3 of [RFC6830]), then this may amplify the attack that
   caused the insertion of entries being checked.

3.5.  Instance ID

   LISP allows a 24-bit value called Instance ID to be carried in its
   header; it's used on the ITR to indicate which local Instance ID has
   been used for encapsulation, while on the ETR, the Instance ID
   decides which forwarding table to use to forward the decapsulated
   packet in the LISP site.

   An attacker (either a control-plane or data-plane attacker) can use
   the Instance ID functionality to mount an intrusion attack.

3.6.  Interworking

   [RFC6832] defines Proxy-ITR and Proxy-ETR network elements to allow
   LISP and non-LISP sites to communicate.  The Proxy-ITR has
   functionality similar to the ITR; however, its main purpose is to
   encapsulate packets arriving from the Default-Free Zone (DFZ) in
   order to reach LISP sites.  A Proxy Egress Tunnel Router (PETR) has
   functionality similar to the ETR; however, its main purpose is to
   inject de-encapsulated packets in the DFZ in order to reach non-LISP
   sites from LISP sites.  As a PITR (or PETR) is a particular case of
   ITR (or ETR), it is subject to similar attacks as ITRs (or ETRs).

   As any other system relying on proxies, LISP interworking can be used
   by attackers to hide their exact origin in the network.

3.7.  Map-Request Messages

   A control-plane off-path attacker can exploit Map-Request messages to
   mount DoS, performance, or amplification attacks.  By sending Map-
   Request messages at a high rate, the attacker can overload nodes
   involved in the mapping system.  For instance, sending Map-Requests
   at a high rate can considerably increase the state maintained in a
   Map-Resolver or consume CPU cycles on ETRs that have to process the
   Map-Request packets they receive in their slow path (i.e.,
   performance or DoS attack).  When the Map-Reply packet is larger than
   the Map-Request sent by the attacker, that yields to an amplification

Saucez, et al.                Informational                    [Page 12]
RFC 7835                      LISP Threats                    April 2016

   attack.  The attacker can combine the attack with a spoofing attack
   to overload the node to which the spoofed address is actually

   Note that if the attacker sets the P bit (Probe Bit) in the Map-
   Request, the Map-Request will be legitimately sent directly to the
   ETR instead of passing through the mapping system.

   The SMR bit can be used to mount a variant of these attacks.

   For efficiency reasons, Map-Records can be appended to Map-Request
   messages.  When an xTR receives a Map-Request with appended Map-
   Records, it does the same operations as for the other Map-Request
   messages and so is subject to the same attacks.  However, it also
   installs in its EID-to-RLOC cache the Map-Records contained in the
   Map-Request.  An attacker can then use this vector to force the
   installation of mappings in its target xTR.  Consequently, the EID-
   to-RLOC cache of the xTR is polluted by potentially forged mappings
   allowing the attacker to mount any of the attacks categorized in
   Section 2.2 (see Section 3.8 for more details).  Note that the
   attacker does not need to forge the mappings present in the Map-
   Request to achieve a performance or DoS attack.  Indeed, if the
   attacker owns a large enough EID prefix, it can de-aggregate it in
   many small prefixes, each corresponding to another mapping, and it
   installs them in the xTR cache by means of the Map-Request.

   Moreover, attackers can use Map Resolver and/or Map Server network
   elements to relay its attacks and hide the origin of the attack.
   Indeed, on the one hand, a Map Resolver is used to dispatch Map-
   Request to the mapping system, and on the other hand, a Map Server is
   used to dispatch Map-Requests coming from the mapping system to ETRs
   that are authoritative for the EID in the Map-Request.

3.8.  Map-Reply Messages

   Most of the security risks associated with Map-Reply messages will
   depend on the 64-bit nonce that is included in a Map-Request and
   returned in the Map-Reply.  Given the size of the nonce (64 bits), if
   a best current practice is used [RFC4086] and if an ETR does not
   accept Map-Reply messages with an invalid nonce, the risk of an off-
   path attack is limited.  Nevertheless, the nonce only confirms that
   the Map-Reply received was sent in response to a Map-Request sent; it
   does not validate the contents of that Map-Reply.

   If an attacker manages to send a valid (i.e., in response to a Map-
   Request and with the correct nonce) Map-Reply to an ITR, then it can
   perform any of the attacks categorized in Section 2.2 as it can
   inject forged mappings directly in the ITR EID-to-RLOC cache.  For

Saucez, et al.                Informational                    [Page 13]
RFC 7835                      LISP Threats                    April 2016

   instance, if the mapping injected to the ITR points to the address of
   a node controlled by the attacker, it can mount replay, packet
   manipulation, packet interception and suppression, or DoS attacks, as
   it will receive every packet destined to a destination lying in the
   EID prefix of the injected mapping.  In addition, the attacker can
   inject a plethora of mappings in the ITR to mount a performance
   attack by filling up the EID-to-RLOC cache of the ITR.  The attacker
   can also mount an amplification attack if the ITR at that time is
   sending a large number of packets to the EIDs matching the injected
   mapping.  In this case, the RLOC address associated with the mapping
   is the address of the real target of the attacker, so all the traffic
   of the ITR will be sent to the target, which means that with one
   single packet the attacker may generate very high traffic towards its
   final target.

   If the attacker is a valid ETR in the system, it can mount a rogue
   attack if it uses prefix overclaiming.  In such a scenario, the
   attacker ETR replies to a legitimate Map-Request message that it
   received with a Map-Reply message that contains an EID prefix that is
   larger than the prefix owned by the attacker.  For example, if the
   owned prefix is but the Map-Reply contains a mapping for, then the mapping will influence packets destined to
   EIDs other than the one the attacker has authority on.  With such
   technique, the attacker can mount the attacks presented above as it
   can (partially) control the mappings installed on its target ITR.  To
   force its target ITR to send a Map-Request, nothing prevents the
   attacker to initiate some communication with the ITR.  This method
   can be used by internal attackers that want to control the mappings
   installed in their site.  To that aim, they simply have to collude
   with an external attacker ready to overclaim prefixes on behalf of
   the internal attacker.

   Note that when the Map-Reply is in response to a Map-Request sent via
   the mapping system (i.e., not sent directly from the ITR to an ETR),
   the attacker does not need to use a spoofing attack to achieve its
   attack as by design the source IP address of a Map-Reply is not known
   in advance by the ITR.

   Map-Request and Map-Reply messages are exposed to any type of
   attackers, on-path or off-path but also external or internal
   attackers.  Also, even though they are control messages, they can be
   leveraged by data-plane attackers.  As the decision of removing
   mappings is based on the TTL indicated in the mapping, time-shifted
   attackers can take advantage of injecting forged mappings as well.

Saucez, et al.                Informational                    [Page 14]
RFC 7835                      LISP Threats                    April 2016

3.9.  Map-Register Messages

   Map-Register messages are sent by ETRs to Map Servers to indicate to
   the mapping system the EID prefixes associated with them.  The Map-
   Register message provides an EID prefix and the list of ETRs that are
   able to provide Map-Replies for the EID covered by the EID prefix.

   As Map-Register messages are protected by an authentication
   mechanism, only a compromised ETR can register itself to its
   allocated Map Server.

   A compromised ETR can overclaim the prefix it owns in order to
   influence the route followed by Map-Requests for EIDs outside the
   scope of its legitimate EID prefix (see Section 3.8 for the list of
   overclaiming attacks).

   A compromised ETR can also de-aggregate its EID prefix in order to
   register more EID prefixes than necessary to its Map Servers (see
   Section 3.7 for the impact of de-aggregation of prefixes by an

   Similarly, a compromised Map Server can accept an invalid
   registration or advertise an invalid EID prefix to the mapping

3.10.  Map-Notify Messages

   Map-Notify messages are sent by a Map Server to an ETR to acknowledge
   the reception and processing of a Map-Register message.

   Similarly, to the pair Map-Request/Map-Reply, the pair Map-Register/
   Map-Notify is protected by a nonce making it difficult for an
   attacker to inject a falsified notification to an ETR to make this
   ETR believe that the registration succeeded when it has not.

4.  Note on Privacy

   As reviewed in [RFC6973], universal privacy considerations are
   difficult to establish as the privacy definitions may vary for
   different scenarios.  As a consequence, this document does not aim to
   identify privacy issues related to the LISP protocol, but the
   security threats identified in this document could play a role in
   privacy threats as defined in Section 5 of [RFC6973].

   Similar to public deployments of any other control-plane protocol, in
   an Internet deployment, LISP mappings are public and hence provide
   information about the infrastructure and reachability of LISP sites
   (i.e., the addresses of the edge routers).  Depending upon deployment

Saucez, et al.                Informational                    [Page 15]
RFC 7835                      LISP Threats                    April 2016

   details, LISP map replies might or might not provide finer-grained
   and more detailed information than is available with currently
   deployed routing and control protocols.

5.  Threat Mitigation

   Most of the above threats can be mitigated with careful deployment
   and configuration (e.g., filter) and also by applying the general
   rules of security, e.g., only activating features that are necessary
   for the deployment and verifying the validity of the information
   obtained from third parties.

   The control plane is the most critical part of LISP from a security
   viewpoint, and it is worth noticing that the LISP specifications
   already offer an authentication mechanism for mappings registration
   [RFC6833].  This mechanism, combined with LISP-SEC [LISP-SEC],
   strongly mitigates threats in non-trustable environments such as the
   Internet.  Moreover, an authentication data field for Map-Request
   messages and Encapsulated Control messages was allocated [RFC6830].
   This field provides a general authentication mechanism technique for
   the LISP control plane that future specifications may use while
   staying backward compatible.  The exact technique still has to be
   designed and defined.  To maximally mitigate the threats on the
   mapping system, authentication must be used, whenever possible, for
   both Map-Request and Map-Reply messages and for messages exchanged
   internally among elements of the mapping system, such as specified in
   [LISP-SEC] and [LISP-DDT].

   Systematically applying filters and rate limitation, as proposed in
   [RFC6830], will mitigate most of the threats presented in this
   document.  In order to minimize the risk of overloading the control
   plane with actions triggered from data-plane events, such actions
   should be rate limited.

   Moreover, all information opportunistically learned (e.g., with LSB
   or gleaning) should be used with care until they are verified.  For
   example, a reachability change learned with LSB should not be used
   directly to decide the destination RLOC but instead should trigger a
   rate-limited reachability test.  Similarly, a gleaned entry should be
   used only for the flow that triggered the gleaning procedure until
   the gleaned entry has been verified [Trilogy].

6.  Security Considerations

   This document provides a threat analysis and proposes mitigation
   techniques for the Locator/ID Separation Protocol.

Saucez, et al.                Informational                    [Page 16]
RFC 7835                      LISP Threats                    April 2016

7.  References

7.1.  Normative References

   [RFC6830]  Farinacci, D., Fuller, V., Meyer, D., and D. Lewis, "The
              Locator/ID Separation Protocol (LISP)", RFC 6830,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC6830, January 2013,

   [RFC6832]  Lewis, D., Meyer, D., Farinacci, D., and V. Fuller,
              "Interworking between Locator/ID Separation Protocol
              (LISP) and Non-LISP Sites", RFC 6832,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC6832, January 2013,

   [RFC6833]  Fuller, V. and D. Farinacci, "Locator/ID Separation
              Protocol (LISP) Map-Server Interface", RFC 6833,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC6833, January 2013,

   [RFC6834]  Iannone, L., Saucez, D., and O. Bonaventure, "Locator/ID
              Separation Protocol (LISP) Map-Versioning", RFC 6834,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC6834, January 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,

7.2.  Informative References

   [LISP-DDT] Fuller, V., Lewis, D., Ermagan, V., and A. Jain, "LISP
              Delegated Database Tree", Work in Progress,
              draft-ietf-lisp-ddt-03, April 2015.

   [LISP-SEC] Maino, F., Ermagan, V., Cabellos-Aparicio, A., and D.
              Saucez, "LISP-Security (LISP-SEC)", Work in Progress,
              draft-ietf-lisp-sec-10, October 2015.

              Bagnulo, M., "Preliminary LISP Threat Analysis", Work in
              Progress, draft-bagnulo-lisp-threat-01, July 2007.

Saucez, et al.                Informational                    [Page 17]
RFC 7835                      LISP Threats                    April 2016

   [RFC4086]  Eastlake 3rd, D., Schiller, J., and S. Crocker,
              "Randomness Requirements for Security", BCP 106, RFC 4086,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC4086, June 2005,

   [RFC7215]  Jakab, L., Cabellos-Aparicio, A., Coras, F., Domingo-
              Pascual, J., and D. Lewis, "Locator/Identifier Separation
              Protocol (LISP) Network Element Deployment
              Considerations", RFC 7215, DOI 10.17487/RFC7215, April
              2014, <>.

   [RFC7258]  Farrell, S. and H. Tschofenig, "Pervasive Monitoring Is an
              Attack", BCP 188, RFC 7258, DOI 10.17487/RFC7258, May
              2014, <>.

   [Trilogy]  Saucez, D. and L. Iannone, "How to mitigate the effect of
              scans on mapping systems", Trilogy Future Internet Summer
              School, 2009.


   This document builds upon the document by Marcelo Bagnulo
   [PRELIM-LISP-THREAT], where the flooding attack and the reference
   environment was first described.

   The authors would like to thank Ronald Bonica, Deborah Brungard,
   Albert Cabellos, Ross Callon, Noel Chiappa, Florin Coras, Vina
   Ermagan, Dino Farinacci, Stephen Farrell, Joel Halpern, Emily
   Hiltzik, Darrel Lewis, Edward Lopez, Fabio Maino, Terry Manderson,
   and Jeff Wheeler for their comments.

   This work has been partially supported by the INFSO-ICT-216372
   TRILOGY Project <>.

   The work of Luigi Iannone has been partially supported by the
   ANR-13-INFR-0009 LISP-Lab Project <> and the
   EIT KIC ICT-Labs SOFNETS Project.

Saucez, et al.                Informational                    [Page 18]
RFC 7835                      LISP Threats                    April 2016

Authors' Addresses

   Damien Saucez
   2004 route des Lucioles BP 93
   06902 Sophia Antipolis Cedex


   Luigi Iannone
   Telecom ParisTech
   23, Avenue d'Italie, CS 51327
   75214 Paris Cedex 13


   Olivier Bonaventure
   Universite catholique de Louvain
   Place St. Barbe 2
   Louvain la Neuve


Saucez, et al.                Informational                    [Page 19]