Thursday, July 24, 2014

Security Issues in IPV6

Following are some security issues in IPv6.
  • Security practitioners need education/training on IPv6.
IPv6 will come to the networks under administrator's control – it's only a matter of time. As with any new networking technology, it's essential that admins learn the basics of IPv6, especially the addressing scheme and protocols, in order to facilitate incident handling and related activities.
  • Security tools need to be upgraded.
IPv6 is not backwards compatible. The hardware and software used to route traffic across networks and perform security analyses won't work with IPv6 traffic unless they are upgraded to versions that support the protocol. This is especially important to remember when it comes to perimeter-protection devices. Routers, firewalls and intrusion-detection systems may require software and/or hardware upgrades in order to "speak" IPv6. Many manufacturers already have these upgrades available. For example, Cisco networking devices support IPv6 as of IOS release 12.0S.
  • Existing equipment may require additional configuration.
The devices that do support IPv6 typically treat it as an entirely separate protocol (as they should). Therefore, the access control lists, rule bases and other configuration parameters may need to be reevaluated and translated to support an IPv6 environment. Contact the appropriate manufacturers for specific instructions.
  • Tunneling protocols create new risks.
The networking and security communities have invested time and energy in ensuring that IPv6 is a security-enabled protocol. However, one of the greatest risks inherent in the migration is the use of tunneling protocols to support the transition to IPv6. These protocols allow the encapsulation of IPv6 traffic in an IPv4 data stream for routing through non-compliant devices. Therefore, it's possible that users on the network can begin running IPv6 using these tunneling protocols before admins are ready to officially support it in production. If this is a concern, block IPv6 tunneling protocols (including SIT, ISATAP, 6to4 and others) at the perimeter.
  • IPv6 autoconfiguration creates addressing complexity.
Autoconfiguration, another interesting IPv6 feature, allows systems to automatically gain a network address without administrator intervention. IPv6 supports two different autoconfiguration techniques. Stateful autoconfiguration uses DHCPv6, a simple upgrade to the current DHCP protocol, and doesn't reflect much of a difference from a security perspective. On the other hand, keep an eye on stateless autoconfiguration. This technique allows systems to generate their own IP addresses and checks for address duplication. This decentralized approach may be easier from a system administration perspective, but it raises challenges for those of us charged with tracking the use (and abuse!) of network resources.
  • Effective rate limiting is hard to achieve
Rate limiting is a straightforward tactic which is probably use to protect the network from automated attack tools. This works on IPv4 networks, making automated attacks less likely to succeed or harder to launch by forcing hackers to deliberately slow their automated attack tools, or to use multiple hosts from which to launch attacks on the network.
The tactic doesn't really work on IPv6 networks. That's because IPv6 networks are so vast that it's impractical to rate limit at the 128-bit address level, Vyncke pointed out. In any case, hackers may be allotted millions or even billions of IPv6 addresses, meaning that to rate limit effectively admins would need to limit addresses at the 48-bit or 64-bit level. Right now it's simply not clear what practical approach should be used to provide the same level of protection. "The industry has yet to learn how to do it," Vyncke warned.
  • Reputation-based protection does not (yet) exist
Many security software vendors use the reputation of IP addresses to filter out malicious websites that are known sources of malware. While reputation systems for IPv4 addresses already exist, it's a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation when it comes to IPv6. No one has established an IPv6 reputation database, so no one is using reputation-based security with IPv6 addresses -- and therefore no one is building a reputation database. It's something the security industry will surely eventually adopt, but for now it’s a missing piece in the security puzzle.
  • Logging systems may not work properly
The key feature of IPv6 is that it uses 128-bit addresses, which are stored as a 39-digit string. IPv4 addresses, on the other hand, are written in the form and may therefore be stored in a 15-character field. If the logging systems expect 15-character IP addresses, they may crash when they encounter "monster" 39 -digit IPv6 addresses (creating possible buffer overflow error-related security problems) or they may only store only the first 15 characters, rendering the logged information useless. The only solution is to upgrade all the logging systems to support IPv6 addresses.
  • IPv6 may run by default
Although admins may think that they are running an IPv4-only data center, with IPv4-only IDS, monitoring and so on, but IPv6 could be activated and running without knowledge. That's because in some circumstances (such as an attacker on the network sending router advertisements), devices on he network can start communicating with each other by default over IPv6 using link-local addresses. (For more information, see the IETF Rogue IPv6 Router Advertisement Problem Statement.) "Your IDS will see none of this traffic, so you should definitely upgrade it to IPv6 now, and make sure that its operators are trained to use IPv6," warned Vyncke.
  • SIEM systems may not work properly
Another problem with IPv6 is that every host -- inside or outside the network perimeter -- can have multiple IPv6 addresses simultaneously. This is not usual in the IPv4 world, and it can cause serious problems. "For example, how do admins know by looking at the logs that different entries refer to the same host?" asked Vyncke. In order to make sense of logs it is needed to be able to correlate addresses to hosts, but Vyncke warned that thus far no SIEM system fully supports IPv6 fully. It may support it at the network level, for example, but the correlation engine may not.
  • Simple log analysis using grep won't work
Yet another problem is that the same IPv6 address can be written in multiple ways, for example: 2001:0DB8:0BAD::0DAD
2001:db8:bad::dad (this is the canonical RFC 5952 format)
As a result, a grep search through the log files is not going to work as before. If devices log in using different IPv6 formats, it may have to reconfigure the way they log or change the way it is search to catch all the information in the logs about a device.
[1]Security on IPv6 by Dequan Yang et al - IEEE Advanced Computer Control (ICACC), 2010 2nd International Conference on (Volume:3 )
[1]Global Information Assurance Certification Paper- SANS Institute.
[2]Understanding Data Security - Trends and Predictions -By Paul Rubens October 18, 2012

Improving network reliability of Wireless Sensor Networks

When talking about network reliability, we should consider the different types of networks as well. For example, Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) have the potential of revolutionizing the way wireless technology has been used over the decades.Monitoring critical structures such as high speed railway bridges 
requires the monitoring network to be highly reliable. However, there is still a lack of reliability studies of WSNs since,
  • No attempt to define an accurate fault model from experimental evidence.
  • Fault forecasting methodologies have never been applied to WSNs. 
  • The majority of research results are proved by means of simulation. 
  • No attempt to make the sensor nodes intelligent enough to recall the information of interest despite of corrupted signal sensed at the destination and hence to enhance the reliability of communication
Reliability in WSN reflects a functional unit’s ability to meet performance specifications over a specified period of time and this is often expressed as a probability or mean time to failure (MTTF). Factors affectio the reliablity in WSNs are as follows.
  • Hardware failure
  • Inappropriate communication scheme 
  • Constrained resources in sensor nodes 
  • Error prone wireless communication medium
Various models and techniques are used to improve reliability in WSNs.
1) Clustering is a key technique used to extend the lifetime of a sensor network by reducing energy consumption. Sensor nodes are considered to be homogeneous since the researches in the field of WSNs have been evolved, but some nodes may be of different energy to prolong the lifetime of a WSN and its reliability.
2) Also routing algorithms have been proposed for real-time wireless sensor networks using a hybrid algorithm that can increase reliability and network lifetime criterions[1]
3) A Reliability framework also build for data transport based on the different operational phases of the WSN protocols. For this, a fault model was established to capture the possible failures along with generalized data transport and reliability semantics and also developed a reliability block model based approach that exploits the decomposition of the complex data transport problem into operations and simplifies the investigation of the overall reliability of data transport. [2]
[1] Sanaz Naziri, Majid Haghparast and Somayeh Hasanpoor, “Improving Lifetime and Reliability in Routing Real-Time Wireless Sensor Networks based on Hybrid Algorithm” at Australian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences, 5(9): 1105-1109, 2011
[2] Faisal Karim Shaikh, Abdelmajid Khelil and Neeraj Suri, “On Modeling the Reliability of Data Transport in Wireless Sensor Networks”, in IEEE international conference in parallel, distribute and network based processing, pp. 395-402, 2007