Visible to the public Taking Control of SDN-Based Cloud Systems via the Data Plane

TitleTaking Control of SDN-Based Cloud Systems via the Data Plane
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsThimmaraju, Kashyap, Shastry, Bhargava, Fiebig, Tobias, Hetzelt, Felicitas, Seifert, Jean-Pierre, Feldmann, Anja, Schmid, Stefan
Conference NameProceedings of the Symposium on SDN Research
Conference LocationNew York, NY, USA
ISBN Number978-1-4503-5664-0
Keywordsattack surface, Attacker Models, Cloud Security, data plane security, Metrics, MPLS, Network Isolation, network virtualization, NFV, Open vSwitch, openstack, Packet Parsing, pubcrawl, resilience, Resiliency, ROP, rop attacks, Scalability, SDN, SDN security, Virtual Switches

Virtual switches are a crucial component of SDN-based cloud systems, enabling the interconnection of virtual machines in a flexible and "software-defined" manner. This paper raises the alarm on the security implications of virtual switches. In particular, we show that virtual switches not only increase the attack surface of the cloud, but virtual switch vulnerabilities can also lead to attacks of much higher impact compared to traditional switches. We present a systematic security analysis and identify four design decisions which introduce vulnerabilities. Our findings motivate us to revisit existing threat models for SDN-based cloud setups, and introduce a new attacker model for SDN-based cloud systems using virtual switches. We demonstrate the practical relevance of our analysis using a case study with Open vSwitch and OpenStack. Employing a fuzzing methodology, we find several exploitable vulnerabilities in Open vSwitch. Using just one vulnerability we were able to create a worm that can compromise hundreds of servers in a matter of minutes. Our findings are applicable beyond virtual switches: NFV and high-performance fast path implementations face similar issues. This paper also studies various mitigation techniques and discusses how to redesign virtual switches for their integration.

Citation Keythimmaraju_taking_2018