Abstract: Three attacks that apply to certain configurations of IPsec have been identified. These configurations use Encapsulating Security Payload (ESP) in tunnel mode with confidentiality only, or with integrity protection being provided by a higher layer protocol. Some configurations using AH to provide integrity protection are also vulnerable.
Operating Systems affected:
Applications/Services affected: IPSEC
NISCC Vulnerability Advisory IPSEC - 004033
NISCC Vulnerability Advisory 004033/NISCC/IPSEC
Vulnerability Issues with IPsec Configurations
Advisory Reference 004033/NISCC/IPSEC Release Date 9 May 2005 Last Revision 9 May 2005 Version Number 1.0
What is affected?
Potentially any configuration of IPsec that uses Encapsulating Security Payload (ESP) in tunnel mode with confidentiality only, or with integrity protection being provided by a higher layer protocol. Some configurations using AH to provide integrity protection are also vulnerable.
If exploited, it is possible for an active attacker to obtain the plaintext version of the IPsec- protected communications using only moderate effort.
This is rated as high.
IP Security (IPsec) is a set of protocols developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to support secure exchange of packets at the IP layer; IPsec has been deployed widely to implement Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).
Three attacks that apply to certain configurations of IPsec have been identified. These configurations use Encapsulating Security Payload (ESP) in tunnel mode with confidentiality only, or with integrity protection being provided by a higher layer protocol. Some configurations using AH to provide integrity protection are also vulnerable. In these configurations, an attacker can modify sections of the IPsec packet, causing either the cleartext inner packet to be redirected or a network host to generate an error message. In the latter case, these errors are relayed via the Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP); because of the design of ICMP, these messages directly reveal segments of the header and payload of the inner datagram in cleartext. An attacker who can intercept the ICMP messages can then retrieve plaintext data. The attacks have been implemented and
demonstrated to work under realistic conditions.
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CVE number: CAN-2005-0039
IPsec consists of several separate protocols; these include:
* Authentication Header (AH): provides authenticity guarantees for packets, by attaching strong cryptographic checksum to packets. * Encapsulating Security Payload (ESP): provides confidentiality guarantees for packets, by encrypting packets with encryption algorithms. ESP also provides optional authentication
services for packets.
* Internet Key Exchange (IKE): provide ways to securely negotiate shared keys.
AH and ESP has two modes of use: transport mode and tunnel mode. With ESP in tunnel mode, an IP packet (called the inner packet) is encrypted in its entirety and is used to form the payload of a new packet (called the outer packet); ESP typically uses CBC-mode encryption to provide confidentiality. However, without some form of integrity protection, CBC-mode encrypted data is vulnerable to modification by an active attacker.
By making careful modifications to selected portions of the payload of the outer packet, an attacker can effect controlled changes to the header of the inner (encrypted) packet. The modified inner packet is subsequently processed by the IP software on the receiving security gateway or the endpoint host; the inner packet, in cleartext form, may be redirected or certain error messages may be produced and communicated by ICMP. Because of the design of ICMP, these messages directly reveal cleartext segments of the header and payload of the inner packet. If these messages can be intercepted by an attacker, then plaintext data is revealed.
Attacks exploiting these vulnerabilities rely on the following:
* Exploitation of the well-known bit flipping weakness of CBC mode encryption. * Lack of integrity protection for inner packets. * Interaction between IPsec processing and IP processing on security gateways and end hosts.
These attacks can be fully automated so as to recover the entire contents of multiple IPsec-protected inner packets.
In more detail, the three identified attacks on ESP in tunnel mode when integrity protection is not
present work as follows:
Destination Address Rewriting
payload of the outer packet. * The security gateway decrypts the outer payload to recover the (modified) inner packet. * The gateway then performs IP options processing on the inner packet because of the modified header length, with the first part of the inner payload being interpreted as options bytes. * With some probability, options processing will result in the generation of an ICMP "parameter
problem" message. * The ICMP message is routed to the now modified source address of the inner packet. * An attacker intercepts the ICMP message and retrieves the "plaintext" payload of the inner packet.
The attacks are probabilistic in nature and may need to be iterated many times in a first phase in order to be successful. Once this first phase is complete, the results can be reused to efficiently recover the contents of further inner packets.
Naturally, the attacker must be able to intercept traffic passing between the security gateways in order to mount the attacks. For the second and third attacks to be successful, the attacker must be
able intercept the relevant ICMP messages. Variants of these attacks in which the destination of the ICMP messages can be controlled by the attacker are also possible.
Any of the following methods can be used to rectify this issue:
Configure ESP to use both confidentiality and integrity protection. This is the recommended solution.
Use the AH protocol alongside ESP to provide integrity protection. However, this must be done carefully: for example, the configuration where AH in transport mode is applied end-to-end and tunnelled inside ESP is still vulnerable.
Remove the error reporting by restricting the generation of ICMP messages or by filtering these messages at a firewall or security gateway.
A list of vendors affected by this vulnerability is not currently available. Please visit the web site in order to check for updates.
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C 2005 Crown Copyright <End of NISCC Vulnerability Advisory>
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