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RFC 7822

Proposed STD
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Network Time Protocol Version 4 (NTPv4) Extension Fields

Updates:    5905


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Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)                        T. Mizrahi
Request for Comments: 7822                                       Marvell
Updates: 5905                                                   D. Mayer
Category: Standards Track                        Network Time Foundation
ISSN: 2070-1721                                               March 2016


        Network Time Protocol Version 4 (NTPv4) Extension Fields

Abstract

   The Network Time Protocol version 4 (NTPv4) defines the optional
   usage of extension fields.  An extension field, as defined in RFC
   5905, is an optional field that resides at the end of the NTP header
   and that can be used to add optional capabilities or additional
   information that is not conveyed in the standard NTP header.  This
   document updates RFC 5905 by clarifying some points regarding NTP
   extension fields and their usage with Message Authentication Codes
   (MACs).

Status of This Memo

   This is an Internet Standards Track document.

   This document is a product of the Internet Engineering Task Force
   (IETF).  It represents the consensus of the IETF community.  It has
   received public review and has been approved for publication by the
   Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG).  Further information on
   Internet Standards is available in Section 2 of RFC 5741.

   Information about the current status of this document, any errata,
   and how to provide feedback on it may be obtained at
   http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc7822.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2016 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
   (http://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
   to this document.  Code Components extracted from this document must
   include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of
   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
   described in the Simplified BSD License.

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Table of Contents

   1. Introduction ....................................................2
   2. Conventions Used in This Document ...............................3
      2.1. Terminology ................................................3
      2.2. Terms and Abbreviations ....................................3
   3. NTP Extension Fields - RFC 5905 Update ..........................3
   4. Security Considerations .........................................6
   5. References ......................................................7
      5.1. Normative References .......................................7
      5.2. Informative References .....................................7
   Acknowledgments ....................................................8
   Authors' Addresses .................................................8

1.  Introduction

   The NTP header format consists of a set of fixed fields that may be
   followed by some optional fields.  Two types of optional fields are
   defined: Message Authentication Codes (MACs), and extension fields as
   defined in Section 7.5 of [NTPv4].

   If a MAC is used, it resides at the end of the packet.  This field
   can be either 24 octets long, 20 octets long, or a 4-octet
   crypto-NAK.

   NTP extension fields were defined in [NTPv4] as a generic mechanism
   that allows the addition of future extensions and features without
   modifying the NTP header format (Section 16 of [NTPv4]).

   The only currently defined extension fields are those fields used by
   the Autokey protocol [Autokey] and the Checksum Complement [RFC7821].
   The Autokey extension field is always followed by a MAC, and
   Section 10 of [Autokey] specifies the parsing rules that allow a host
   to distinguish between an extension field and a MAC.  However, a MAC
   is not mandatory after an extension field; an NTPv4 packet can
   include one or more extension fields without including a MAC.  This
   behavior is specified in Section 7.5 of [NTPv4] and in [Err3627], and
   is further clarified in this document.

   This document updates [NTPv4] (RFC 5905) by clarifying some points
   regarding the usage of extension fields.  These updates include
   changes to address errors found after the publication of [NTPv4] with
   respect to extension fields.  Specifically, this document updates
   Section 7.5 of [NTPv4], clarifying the relationship between extension
   fields and MACs, and defining the behavior of a host that receives an
   unknown extension field.

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2.  Conventions Used in This Document

2.1.  Terminology

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this
   document are to be interpreted as described in [KEYWORDS].

2.2.  Terms and Abbreviations

   MAC          Message Authentication Code

   NTPv4        Network Time Protocol version 4 [NTPv4]

3.  NTP Extension Fields - RFC 5905 Update

   This document updates Section 7.5 of [NTPv4] as follows:

   OLD:

   7.5.  NTP Extension Field Format

      In NTPv4, one or more extension fields can be inserted after the
      header and before the MAC, which is always present when an
      extension field is present.  Other than defining the field format,
      this document makes no use of the field contents.  An extension
      field contains a request or response message in the format shown
      in Figure 14.

       0                   1                   2                   3
       0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
      +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
      |          Field Type           |            Length             |
      +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
      .                                                               .
      .                            Value                              .
      .                                                               .
      +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
      |                       Padding (as needed)                     |
      +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+

                      Figure 14: Extension Field Format

      All extension fields are zero-padded to a word (four octets)
      boundary.  The Field Type field is specific to the defined
      function and is not elaborated here.  While the minimum field
      length containing required fields is four words (16 octets), a
      maximum field length remains to be established.

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      The Length field is a 16-bit unsigned integer that indicates the
      length of the entire extension field in octets, including the
      Padding field.

   NEW:

   7.5.  NTP Extension Field Format

      In NTPv4, one or more extension fields can be inserted after the
      header and before the MAC, if a MAC is present.

      Other than defining the field format, this document makes no use
      of the field contents.  An extension field contains a request or
      response message in the format shown in Figure 14.

       0                   1                   2                   3
       0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
      +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
      |          Field Type           |            Length             |
      +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
      .                                                               .
      .                            Value                              .
      .                                                               .
      +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
      |                       Padding (as needed)                     |
      +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+

                      Figure 14: Extension Field Format

      All extension fields are zero-padded to a word (four octets)
      boundary.

      The Field Type, Value, and Padding fields are specific to the
      defined function and are not elaborated here; the Field Type value
      is defined in an IANA registry, and its Length, Value, and Padding
      values are defined by the document referred to by the registry.
      If a host receives an extension field with an unknown Field Type,
      the host SHOULD ignore the extension field and MAY drop the packet
      altogether if policy requires it.

      While the minimum field length containing required fields is
      four words (16 octets), the maximum field length cannot be longer
      than 65532 octets, due to the maximum size of the Length field.

      The Length field is a 16-bit unsigned integer that indicates the
      length of the entire extension field in octets, including the
      Padding field.

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   7.5.1.  Extension Fields and MACs

   7.5.1.1.  Extension Fields in the Presence of a MAC

      An extension field can be used in an NTP packet that includes a
      MAC -- for example, as defined in [Autokey].  A specification that
      defines a new extension field MUST specify whether the extension
      field requires a MAC or not.  If the extension field requires a
      MAC, the extension field specification MUST define the algorithm
      to be used to create the MAC and the length of the MAC thus
      created.  An extension field MAY allow for the use of more than
      one algorithm, in which case the information about which algorithm
      was used MUST be included in the extension field itself.

   7.5.1.2.  Multiple Extension Fields with a MAC

      If there are multiple extension fields that require a MAC, they
      MUST all require the use of the same algorithm and MAC length.
      Extension fields that do not require a MAC can be included with
      extension fields that do require a MAC.

      An NTP packet MUST NOT be sent with two or more extension fields
      that require a MAC with different algorithms.

      If an NTP packet is received with two or more extension fields
      that this receiver recognizes and those fields require a MAC with
      different algorithms, the packet MUST be discarded.

   7.5.1.3.  MAC in the Absence of an Extension Field

      A MAC MUST NOT be longer than 24 octets if there is no extension
      field present, unless a longer MAC is agreed upon by both client
      and server.  The client and server can negotiate this behavior
      using a previous exchange of packets with an extension field that
      defines the size and algorithm of the MAC transmitted in NTP
      packets.

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   7.5.1.4.  Extension Fields in the Absence of a MAC

      If a MAC is not present, one or more extension fields can be
      inserted after the header, according to the following rules:

      o  If the packet includes a single extension field, the length of
         the extension field MUST be at least 7 words, i.e., at least
         28 octets.

      o  If the packet includes more than one extension field, the
         length of the last extension field MUST be at least 28 octets.
         The length of the other extension fields in this case MUST be
         at least 16 octets each.

4.  Security Considerations

   The security considerations of time protocols in general are
   discussed in [SecTime], and the security considerations of NTP are
   discussed in [NTPv4].

   Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks on NTP servers involve
   flooding a server with a high rate of NTP packets.  Malicious usage
   of extension fields cannot amplify such DDoS attacks; such malicious
   attempts are mitigated by NTP servers, since the servers ignore
   unknown extension fields (as discussed in Section 3) and only
   respond, if needed, with known extension fields.  Extension fields
   from incoming packets are neither propagated by NTP servers nor
   included in any response.  NTP servers create their own extension
   fields if needed for a response.  A large number of extension fields
   should be flagged by an NTP server as a potential attack.  Large
   extension field sizes should also be flagged, unless they are
   expected to be large.

   Middleboxes such as firewalls MUST NOT filter NTP packets based on
   their extension fields.  Such middleboxes should not examine
   extension fields in the packets, since NTP packets may contain new
   extension fields that the middleboxes have not been updated to
   recognize.

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5.  References

5.1.  Normative References

   [KEYWORDS]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
               Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119,
               DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, March 1997,
               <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc2119>.

   [NTPv4]     Mills, D., Martin, J., Ed., Burbank, J., and W. Kasch,
               "Network Time Protocol Version 4: Protocol and Algorithms
               Specification", RFC 5905, DOI 10.17487/RFC5905,
               June 2010, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc5905>.

5.2.  Informative References

   [Autokey]   Haberman, B., Ed., and D. Mills, "Network Time Protocol
               Version 4: Autokey Specification", RFC 5906,
               DOI 10.17487/RFC5906, June 2010,
               <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc5906>.

   [Err3627]   RFC Errata, Erratum ID 3627, RFC 5905.

   [RFC7821]   Mizrahi, T., "UDP Checksum Complement in the Network Time
               Protocol (NTP)", RFC 7821, DOI 10.17487/RFC7821,
               March 2016, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc7821>.

   [SecTime]   Mizrahi, T., "Security Requirements of Time Protocols in
               Packet Switched Networks", RFC 7384,
               DOI 10.17487/RFC7384, October 2014,
               <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc7384>.

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Acknowledgments

   The authors gratefully acknowledge Dave Mills for his insightful
   comments.  The authors also thank Tim Chown, Sean Turner, Miroslav
   Lichvar, Suresh Krishnan, and Jari Arkko for their thorough review
   and helpful comments.

Authors' Addresses

   Tal Mizrahi
   Marvell
   6 Hamada St.
   Yokneam, 20692
   Israel

   Email: talmi@marvell.com


   Danny Mayer
   Network Time Foundation
   PO Box 918
   Talent, OR  97540
   United States

   Email: mayer@ntp.org