Visible to the public Threats and surprises behind IPv6 extension headers

TitleThreats and surprises behind IPv6 extension headers
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsHendriks, L., Velan, P., Schmidt, R. d O., Boer, P. T. de, Pras, A.
Conference Name2017 Network Traffic Measurement and Analysis Conference (TMA)
KeywordsCollaboration, composability, computer network security, end-user QoE, extension headers, Internet, Internet threats, IP networks, IPv6, ipv6 security, legitimate traffic, Metrics, Monitoring, Payloads, Probes, Protocols, pubcrawl, quality of experience, Resiliency, security, Standards, telecommunication traffic

The concept of Extension Headers, newly introduced with IPv6, is elusive and enables new types of threats in the Internet. Simply dropping all traffic containing any Extension Header - a current practice by operators-seemingly is an effective solution, but at the cost of possibly dropping legitimate traffic as well. To determine whether threats indeed occur, and evaluate the actual nature of the traffic, measurement solutions need to be adapted. By implementing these specific parsing capabilities in flow exporters and performing measurements on two different production networks, we show it is feasible to quantify the metrics directly related to these threats, and thus allow for monitoring and detection. Analysing the traffic that is hidden behind Extension Headers, we find mostly benign traffic that directly affects end-user QoE: simply dropping all traffic containing Extension Headers is thus a bad practice with more consequences than operators might be aware of.

Citation Keyhendriks_threats_2017