Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Attacks/Breaches

5/8/2007
09:02 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Five Security Flaws in IPv6

The next-generation of IP transport has some glaring security problems - here's a rundown of what you need to know

Ready or not, IPv6 is finally visible on the horizon... And researchers are already finding major security problems with it.

IPv6, which is supported in some of the latest OSes and network devices, is all about end-to-end, or peer-to-peer communications. Aside from offering more address space than its IPv4 predecessor -- which has made it immediately popular in some parts of the world -- it offers a redesigned IP packet format that simplifies route processing, making it ideal for applications such as voice over IP or instant messaging.

But IPv6 presents a whole range of new security problems, experts say. French researchers recently found problems in the IPv6 protocol specification itself, namely in the routing header. Bottom line: The specification lets the sender add an arbitrary number of extra headers on IPv6 packets, and the IPv6-based routers or hosts must process these headers. It's a denial-of-service attacker's dream come true.

Speaking at last month's CanSecWest conference, researchers Philippe Biondi and Arnaud Ebalard disclosed details of problems they found in IPv6's routing header feature -- specifically type 0 routing headers.

The problem isn't new. The Internet Engineering Task Force's own IPv6 draft security overview actually recommends "forbidding" or "limiting" type 0 routing headers in hosts and some routers. And IETF member Jari Arkko recently wrote on the standards group's mailing list that the IETF should modify this problematic part of the spec, and make a decision about this routing header feature in IPv6. "This feature needs to be retired," he wrote.

The routing header problem is only the beginning of IPv6's security woes, observers say. "IPv6 is a complex protocol, and its weaknesses and bugs are not theoretical," says Ivan Arce, CTO of Core Security Technologies , which recently discovered a memory-corruption bug in the OpenBSD kernel's code that handles IPv6 packets -- a vulnerability unrelated to the routing header feature.

"As its adoption and deployment grows, security researchers with a practical focus will continue to uncover IPv6 issues," Arce says.

In the meantime, here's a list of some key security flaws to look out for. The first four are all related to the IP type 0 routing header feature:

1. Trespassing
IPv6's advanced network discovery lets you select the path for your packets, but it could also let an attacker go where he or she should not go. "You can have them reach places they should not reach, and interact with equipment not in direct sight," according to Biondi and Ebalard. And an attacker could drill down and get more information on your remote networks, too.

2. Filtering device bypass
Many currently-installed filtering devices, such as firewalls, were not designed for IPv6. DMZ protection for IPv6 traffic varies in many products, as does firewall filtering of IPv6 packets. Experts worry that with such devices in place, an attacker could hide traffic or a payload using Route Header 0.

3. Denial-of-service (DOS)
DOS attacks can occur when IPv6 packets are sent back and forth through the same link until they overwhelm bandwidth. And you know what can happen after that -- not just the service disruption itself, but other attacks that are masked by the DOS.

"According to Philippe, you can mark a single packet such that it'll go around and around and around in these huge routing loops, such that a single packet will be able to consume far more link bandwidth than it could have previously," says Dan Kaminsky, director of penetration testing services for IOActive. "An 88x bandwidth amplifier is actually a fairly big deal, and will allow someone with a 1.5Mbit link to kill a 100Mbit upstream. That would be pretty bad."

4. Anycast: Not safe anymore
"Anycast works by announcing the same IP at many places on Internet so that each box can go to the nearest one," explains Biondi and Ebalard.

Trouble is, IPv6's routing header 0 feature "can single out all instances of an anycast service," according to the French researchers, and basically negate the benefits of anycasting.

The researchers concluded that IPv6's type 0 routing headers "have no applications, and only bring security issues." The only way to protect yourself for now is to disallow "RH0" in your network, and to prevent your host systems from processing it as well, they said.

5. IPv6 puts IPv4 at risk
There are bigger-picture problems than routing headers. Once you enable IPv6, you may open up your IPv4 network and devices to its vulnerabilities as well. This is a hot button for service providers testing out IPv6, but the problem applies to enterprises with large WANs also, says Nicholas Fischbach, senior manager of network engineering/security for COLT Telecom Group plc (Nasdaq: COLT; London: CTM.L).

"Turn on IPv6, and a number of DOS conditions may put your revenue- generating [IPv4] backbone at risk," Fischbach says.

And IPv6 isn't just a network issue, either. "It will also impact security devices, operating systems, and applications," he says. "Making an application IPv6-ready requires changes, some minor, some major, depending on the application and how it's written. But at the end of the day, it could mean another exposure of a security hole that no one thought of, or [had] only fixed in the IPv4 part."

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
NSA Appoints Rob Joyce as Cyber Director
Dark Reading Staff 1/15/2021
Vulnerability Management Has a Data Problem
Tal Morgenstern, Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer, Vulcan Cyber,  1/14/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
2020: The Year in Security
Download this Tech Digest for a look at the biggest security stories that - so far - have shaped a very strange and stressful year.
Flash Poll
Assessing Cybersecurity Risk in Today's Enterprises
Assessing Cybersecurity Risk in Today's Enterprises
COVID-19 has created a new IT paradigm in the enterprise -- and a new level of cybersecurity risk. This report offers a look at how enterprises are assessing and managing cyber-risk under the new normal.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-11997
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-19
Apache Guacamole 1.2.0 and earlier do not consistently restrict access to connection history based on user visibility. If multiple users share access to the same connection, those users may be able to see which other users have accessed that connection, as well as the IP addresses from which that co...
CVE-2020-27266
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-19
In SOOIL Developments Co., Ltd Diabecare RS, AnyDana-i and AnyDana-A, a client-side control vulnerability in the insulin pump and its AnyDana-i and AnyDana-A mobile applications allows physically proximate attackers to bypass user authentication checks via Bluetooth Low Energy.
CVE-2020-27268
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-19
In SOOIL Developments Co., Ltd Diabecare RS, AnyDana-i and AnyDana-A, a client-side control vulnerability in the insulin pump and its AnyDana-i and AnyDana-A mobile applications allows physically proximate attackers to bypass checks for default PINs via Bluetooth Low Energy.
CVE-2020-27269
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-19
In SOOIL Developments Co., Ltd Diabecare RS, AnyDana-i and AnyDana-A, the communication protocol of the insulin pump and its AnyDana-i and AnyDana-A mobile applications lacks replay protection measures, which allows unauthenticated, physically proximate attackers to replay communication sequences vi...
CVE-2020-28707
PUBLISHED: 2021-01-19
The Stockdio Historical Chart plugin before 2.8.1 for WordPress is affected by Cross Site Scripting (XSS) via stockdio_chart_historical-wp.js in wp-content/plugins/stockdio-historical-chart/assets/ because the origin of a postMessage() event is not validated. The stockdio_eventer function listens fo...