Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) M. Duke Request for Comments: 7414 F5 Obsoletes: 4614 R. Braden Category: Informational ISI ISSN: 2070-1721 W. Eddy MTI Systems E. Blanton Interrupt Sciences A. Zimmermann NetApp, Inc. February 2015 A Roadmap for Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) Specification Documents
AbstractThis document contains a roadmap to the Request for Comments (RFC) documents relating to the Internet's Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). This roadmap provides a brief summary of the documents defining TCP and various TCP extensions that have accumulated in the RFC series. This serves as a guide and quick reference for both TCP implementers and other parties who desire information contained in the TCP-related RFCs. This document obsoletes RFC 4614. Status of This Memo This document is not an Internet Standards Track specification; it is published for informational purposes. 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). Not all documents approved by the IESG are a candidate for any level of Internet Standard; see 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/rfc7414.
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1. Introduction ....................................................4 2. Core Functionality ..............................................6 3. Strongly Encouraged Enhancements ................................8 3.1. Fundamental Changes ........................................9 3.2. Congestion Control Extensions .............................10 3.3. Loss Recovery Extensions ..................................11 3.4. Detection and Prevention of Spurious Retransmissions ......13 3.5. Path MTU Discovery ........................................14 3.6. Header Compression ........................................15 3.7. Defending Spoofing and Flooding Attacks ...................15 4. Experimental Extensions ........................................17 4.1. Architectural Guidelines ..................................18 4.2. Fundamental Changes .......................................18 4.3. Congestion Control Extensions .............................19 4.4. Loss Recovery Extensions ..................................20 4.5. Detection and Prevention of Spurious Retransmissions ......21 4.6. TCP Timeouts ..............................................22 4.7. Multipath TCP .............................................22 5. TCP Parameters at IANA .........................................23 6. Historic and Undeployed Extensions .............................24 7. Support Documents ..............................................27 7.1. Foundational Works ........................................27 7.2. Architectural Guidelines ..................................29 7.3. Difficult Network Environments ............................30 7.4. Guidance for Developing, Analyzing, and Evaluating TCP ....33 7.5. Implementation Advice .....................................34 7.6. Tools and Tutorials .......................................36 7.7. MIB Modules ...............................................37 7.8. Case Studies ..............................................39 8. Undocumented TCP Features ......................................40 9. Security Considerations ........................................41 10. References ....................................................42 10.1. Normative References .....................................42 10.2. Informative References ...................................53 Acknowledgments ...................................................56 Authors' Addresses ................................................57
RFC1122] and is not a rigorous standard for what needs to be implemented in TCP. This document is merely an informational roadmap that captures, organizes, and summarizes most of the RFC documents that a TCP implementer, experimenter, or student should be aware of. Particular comments or broad categorizations that this document makes about individual mechanisms and behaviors are not to be taken as definitive, nor should the content of this document alone influence implementation decisions. This roadmap includes a brief description of the contents of each TCP-related RFC. In some cases, we simply supply the abstract or a key summary sentence from the text as a terse description. In addition, a letter code after an RFC number indicates its category in the RFC series (see BCP 9 [RFC2026] for explanation of these categories): S - Standards Track (Proposed Standard, Draft Standard, or Internet Standard) E - Experimental I - Informational H - Historic B - Best Current Practice U - Unknown (not formally defined)
Note that the category of an RFC does not necessarily reflect its current relevance. For instance, RFC 5681 [RFC5681] is considered part of the required core functionality of TCP, although the RFC is only a Draft Standard. Similarly, some Informational RFCs contain significant technical proposals for changing TCP. Finally, if an error in the technical content has been found after publication of an RFC (at the time of this writing), this fact is indicated by the term "(Errata)" in the headline of the RFC's description. The contents of the errata can be found through the RFC Errata page [Errata]. This roadmap is divided into three main sections. Section 2 lists the RFCs that describe absolutely required TCP behaviors for proper functioning and interoperability. Further RFCs that describe strongly encouraged, but nonessential, behaviors are listed in Section 3. Experimental extensions that are not yet standard practices, but that potentially could be in the future, are described in Section 4. The reader will probably notice that these three sections are broadly equivalent to MUST/SHOULD/MAY specifications (per RFC 2119 [RFC2119]), and although the authors support this intuition, this document is merely descriptive; it does not represent a binding Standards Track position. Individual implementers still need to examine the Standards Track RFCs themselves to evaluate specific requirement levels. Section 5 describes both the procedures that the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) uses and an RFC author should follow when new TCP parameters are requested and finally assigned. A small number of older experimental extensions that have not been widely implemented, deployed, and used are noted in Section 6. Many other supporting documents that are relevant to the development, implementation, and deployment of TCP are described in Section 7. A small number of fairly ubiquitous important implementation practices that are not currently documented in the RFC series are listed in Section 8. Within each section, RFCs are listed in the chronological order of their publication dates.
RFC 793 S: "Transmission Control Protocol", STD 7 (September 1981) (Errata) This is the fundamental TCP specification document [RFC793]. Written by Jon Postel as part of the Internet protocol suite's core, it describes the TCP packet format, the TCP state machine and event processing, and TCP's semantics for data transmission, reliability, flow control, multiplexing, and acknowledgment. Section 3.6 of RFC 793, describing TCP's handling of the IP precedence and security compartment, is mostly irrelevant today. RFC 2873 (discussed later in Section 2 below) changed the IP precedence handling, and the security compartment portion of the API is no longer implemented or used. In addition, RFC 793 did not describe any congestion control mechanism. Otherwise, however, the majority of this document still accurately describes modern TCPs. RFC 793 is the last of a series of developmental TCP specifications, starting in the Internet Experimental Notes (IENs) and continuing in the RFC series. RFC 1122 S: "Requirements for Internet Hosts - Communication Layers" (October 1989) This document [RFC1122] updates and clarifies RFC 793 (see above in Section 2), fixing some specification bugs and oversights. It also explains some features such as keep-alives and Karn's and Jacobson's RTO estimation algorithms [KP87][Jac88][JK92]. ICMP interactions are mentioned, and some tips are given for efficient implementation. RFC 1122 is an Applicability Statement, listing the various features that MUST, SHOULD, MAY, SHOULD NOT, and MUST NOT be present in standards-conforming TCP implementations. Unlike a purely informational roadmap, this Applicability Statement is a standards document and gives formal rules for implementation.
RFC 2460 S: "Internet Protocol, Version 6 (IPv6) Specification" (December 1998) (Errata) This document [RFC2460] is of relevance to TCP because it defines how the pseudo-header for TCP's checksum computation is derived when 128-bit IPv6 addresses are used instead of 32-bit IPv4 addresses. Additionally, RFC 2675 (see Section 3.1 of this document) describes TCP changes required to support IPv6 jumbograms. RFC 2873 S: "TCP Processing of the IPv4 Precedence Field" (June 2000) (Errata) This document [RFC2873] removes from the TCP specification all processing of the precedence bits of the TOS byte of the IP header. This resolves a conflict over the use of these bits between RFC 793 (see above in Section 2) and Differentiated Services [RFC2474]. RFC 5681 S: "TCP Congestion Control" (August 2009) Although RFC 793 (see above in Section 2) did not contain any congestion control mechanisms, today congestion control is a required component of TCP implementations. This document [RFC5681] defines congestion avoidance and control mechanism for TCP, based on Van Jacobson's 1988 SIGCOMM paper [Jac88]. A number of behaviors that together constitute what the community refers to as "Reno TCP" is described in RFC 5681. The name "Reno" comes from the Net/2 release of the 4.3 BSD operating system. This is generally regarded as the least common denominator among TCP flavors currently found running on Internet hosts. Reno TCP includes the congestion control features of slow start, congestion avoidance, fast retransmit, and fast recovery. RFC 5681 details the currently accepted congestion control mechanism, while RFC 1122, (see above in Section 2) mandates that such a congestion control mechanism must be implemented. RFC 5681 differs slightly from the other documents listed in this section, as it does not affect the ability of two TCP endpoints to communicate; however, congestion control remains a critical component of any widely deployed TCP implementation and is required for the avoidance of congestion collapse and to ensure fairness among competing flows.
RFCs 2001 and 2581 are the conceptual precursors of RFC 5681. The most important changes relative to RFC 2581 are: (a) The initial window requirements were changed to allow larger Initial Windows as standardized in [RFC3390] (see Section 3.2 of this document). (b) During slow start and congestion avoidance, the usage of Appropriate Byte Counting [RFC3465] (see Section 3.2 of this document) is explicitly recommended. (c) The use of Limited Transmit [RFC3042] (see Section 3.3 of this document) is now recommended. RFC 6093 S: "On the Implementation of the TCP Urgent Mechanism" (January 2011) This document [RFC6093] analyzes how current TCP stacks process TCP urgent indications, and how the behavior of widely deployed middleboxes affects the urgent indications processing. The document updates the relevant specifications such that it accommodates current practice in processing TCP urgent indications. Finally, the document raises awareness about the reliability of TCP urgent indications in the Internet, and recommends against the use of urgent mechanism. RFC 6298 S: "Computing TCP's Retransmission Timer" (June 2011) Abstract of RFC 6298 [RFC6298]: "This document defines the standard algorithm that Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) senders are required to use to compute and manage their retransmission timer. It expands on the discussion in Section 184.108.40.206 of RFC 1122 and upgrades the requirement of supporting the algorithm from a SHOULD to a MUST." RFC 6298 updates RFC 2988 by changing the initial RTO from 3s to 1s. RFC 6691 I: "TCP Options and Maximum Segment Size (MSS)" (July 2012) This document [RFC6691] clarifies what value to use with the TCP Maximum Segment Size (MSS) option when IP and TCP options are in use. Section 3.1 represents fundamental changes to the protocol. Sections 3.2 and 3.3 list improvements over the congestion control and loss recovery mechanisms as specified in RFC 5681 (see Section 2). Section 3.4 describes algorithms that allow a TCP sender to detect whether it has entered loss recovery spuriously.
Section 3.5 comprises Path MTU Discovery mechanisms. Schemes for TCP/IP header compression are listed in Section 3.6. Finally, Section 3.7 deals with the problem of preventing acceptance of forged segments and flooding attacks. 2675 and 7323 represent fundamental changes to TCP by redefining how parts of the basic TCP header and options are interpreted. RFC 7323 defines the Window Scale option, which reinterprets the advertised receive window. RFC 2675 specifies that MSS option and urgent pointer fields with a value of 65,535 are to be treated specially. RFC 2675 S: "IPv6 Jumbograms" (August 1999) (Errata) IPv6 supports longer datagrams than were allowed in IPv4. These are known as jumbograms, and use with TCP has necessitated changes to the handling of TCP's MSS and Urgent fields (both 16 bits). This document [RFC2675] explains those changes. Although it describes changes to basic header semantics, these changes should only affect the use of very large segments, such as IPv6 jumbograms, which are currently rarely used in the general Internet. Supporting the behavior described in this document does not affect interoperability with other TCP implementations when IPv4 or non- jumbogram IPv6 is used. This document states that jumbograms are to only be used when it can be guaranteed that all receiving nodes, including each router in the end-to-end path, will support jumbograms. If even a single node that does not support jumbograms is attached to a local network, then no host on that network may use jumbograms. This explains why jumbogram use has been rare, and why this document is considered a performance optimization and not part of TCP over IPv6's basic functionality. RFC 7323 S: "TCP Extensions for High Performance" (September 2014) This document [RFC7323] defines TCP extensions for window scaling, timestamps, and protection against wrapped sequence numbers, for efficient and safe operation over paths with large bandwidth-delay products. These extensions are commonly found in currently used systems. The predecessor of this document, RFC 1323, was published in 1992, and is deployed in most TCP implementations. This document includes fixes and clarifications based on the gained deployment experience. One specific issued addressed in
this specification is a recommendation how to modify the algorithm for estimating the mean RTT when timestamps are used. RFCs 1072, 1185, and 1323 are the conceptual precursors of RFC 7323. RFC 3168 S: "The Addition of Explicit Congestion Notification (ECN) to IP" (September 2001) This document [RFC3168] defines a means for end hosts to detect congestion before congested routers are forced to discard packets. Although congestion notification takes place at the IP level, ECN requires support at the transport level (e.g., in TCP) to echo the bits and adapt the sending rate. This document updates RFC 793 (see Section 2 of this document) to define two previously unused flag bits in the TCP header for ECN support. RFC 3540 (see Section 4.3 of this document) provides a supplementary (experimental) means for more secure use of ECN, and RFC 2884 (see Section 7.8 of this document) provides some sample results from using ECN. RFC 3390 S: "Increasing TCP's Initial Window" (October 2002) This document [RFC3390] specifies an increase in the permitted initial window for TCP from one segment to three or four segments during the slow start phase, depending on the segment size. RFC 3465 E: "TCP Congestion Control with Appropriate Byte Counting (ABC)" (February 2003) This document [RFC3465] suggests that congestion control use the number of bytes acknowledged instead of the number of acknowledgments received. This change improves the performance of TCP in situations where there is no one-to-one relationship between data segments and acknowledgments (e.g., delayed ACKs or ACK loss) and closes a security hole TCP receivers can use to
induce the sender into increasing the sending rate too rapidly (ACK-division [SCWA99] [RFC3449]). ABC is recommended by RFC 5681 (see Section 2 of this document). RFC 6633 S: "Deprecation of ICMP Source Quench Messages" (May 2012) This document [RFC6633] formally deprecates the use of ICMP Source Quench messages by transport protocols and recommends against the implementation of [RFC1016]. RFC 5681 (see Section 2 of this document), a TCP sender only retransmits a segment after a retransmit timeout has occurred, or after three duplicate ACKs have arrived triggering the fast retransmit. A single RTO might result in the retransmission of several segments, while the fast retransmit algorithm in RFC 5681 leads only to a single retransmission. Hence, multiple losses from a single window of data can lead to a performance degradation. Documents listed in this section aim to improve the overall performance of TCP's standard loss recovery algorithms. In particular, some of them allow TCP senders to recover more effectively when multiple segments are lost from a single flight of data. RFC 2018 S: "TCP Selective Acknowledgment Options" (October 1996) (Errata) When more than one packet is lost during one RTT, TCP may experience poor performance since a TCP sender can only learn about a single lost packet per RTT from cumulative acknowledgments. This document [RFC2018] defines the basic selective acknowledgment (SACK) mechanism for TCP, which can help to overcome these limitations. The receiving TCP returns SACK blocks to inform the sender which data has been received. The sender can then retransmit only the missing data segments. RFC 3042 S: "Enhancing TCP's Loss Recovery Using Limited Transmit" (January 2001) Abstract of RFC 3042 [RFC3042]: "This document proposes a new Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) mechanism that can be used to more effectively recover lost segments when a connection's congestion window is small, or when a large number of segments are lost in a single transmission window." This algorithm described in RFC 3042 is called "Limited Transmit". Tests from 2004 showed
that Limited Transmit was deployed in roughly one third of the web servers tested [MAF04]. Limited Transmit is recommended by RFC 5681 (see Section 2 of this document). RFC 6582 S: "The NewReno Modification to TCP's Fast Recovery Algorithm" (April 2012) This document [RFC6582] specifies a modification to the standard Reno fast recovery algorithm, whereby a TCP sender can use partial acknowledgments to make inferences determining the next segment to send in situations where SACK would be helpful but isn't available. Although it is only a slight modification, the NewReno behavior can make a significant difference in performance when multiple segments are lost from a single window of data. RFCs 2582 and 3782 are the conceptual precursors of RFC 6582. The main change in RFC 3782 relative to RFC 2582 was to specify the Careful variant of NewReno's Fast Retransmit and Fast Recovery algorithms and advance those two algorithms from Experimental to Standards Track status. The main change in RFC 6582 relative to RFC 3782 was to solve a performance degradation that could occur if FlightSize on Full ACK reception is zero. RFC 6675 S: "A Conservative Loss Recovery Algorithm Based on Selective Acknowledgment (SACK) for TCP" (August 2012) This document [RFC6675] describes a conservative loss recovery algorithm for TCP that is based on the use of the selective acknowledgment (SACK) TCP option [RFC2018] (see above in Section 3.3). The algorithm conforms to the spirit of the congestion control specification in RFC 5681 (see Section 2 of this document), but allows TCP senders to recover more effectively when multiple segments are lost from a single flight of data. RFC 6675 is a revision of RFC 3517 to address several situations that are not handled explicitly before. In particular, (a) it improves the loss detection in the event that the sender has outstanding segments that are smaller than Sender Maximum Segment Size (SMSS). (b) it modifies the definition of a "duplicate acknowledgment" to utilize the SACK information in detecting loss. (c) it maintains the ACK clock under certain circumstances involving loss at the end of the window.
Section 4.5 also addressing this topic. RFC 2883 S: "An Extension to the Selective Acknowledgement (SACK) Option for TCP" (July 2000) This document [RFC2883] extends RFC 2018 (see Section 3.3 of this document). It enables use of the SACK option to acknowledge duplicate packets. With this extension, called DSACK, the sender is able to infer the order of packets received at the receiver and, therefore, to infer when it has unnecessarily retransmitted a packet. A TCP sender could then use this information to detect spurious retransmissions (see [RFC3708]). RFC 4015 S: "The Eifel Response Algorithm for TCP" (February 2005) This document [RFC4015] describes the response portion of the Eifel algorithm, which can be used in conjunction with one of several methods of detecting when loss recovery has been spuriously entered, such as the Eifel detection algorithm in RFC 3522 (see Section 4.5), the algorithm in RFC 3708 (see Section 4.5 of this document), or F-RTO in RFC 5682 (see below in Section 3.4). Abstract of RFC 4015 [RFC4015]: "Based on an appropriate detection algorithm, the Eifel response algorithm provides a way for a TCP sender to respond to a detected spurious timeout. It adapts the retransmission timer to avoid further spurious timeouts and (depending on the detection algorithm) can avoid the often unnecessary go-back-N retransmits that would otherwise be sent. In addition, the Eifel response algorithm restores the congestion control state in such a way that packet bursts are avoided." RFC 5682 S: "Forward RTO-Recovery (F-RTO): An Algorithm for Detecting Spurious Retransmission Timeouts with TCP" (September 2009) The F-RTO detection algorithm [RFC5682], originally described in RFC 4138, provides an option for inferring spurious retransmission timeouts. Unlike some similar detection methods (e.g., RFCs 3522
and 3708, both listed in Section 4.5 of this document), F-RTO does not rely on the use of any TCP options. The basic idea is to send previously unsent data after the first retransmission after a RTO. If the ACKs advance the window, the RTO may be declared spurious. RFC 1191 S: "Path MTU Discovery" (November 1990) Abstract of RFC 1191 [RFC1191]: "This memo describes a technique for dynamically discovering the maximum transmission unit (MTU) of an arbitrary internet path. It specifies a small change to the way routers generate one type of ICMP message. For a path that passes through a router that has not been so changed, this technique might not discover the correct Path MTU, but it will always choose a Path MTU as accurate as, and in many cases more accurate than, the Path MTU that would be chosen by current practice." RFC 1981 S: "Path MTU Discovery for IP version 6" (August 1996) Abstract of RFC 1981 [RFC1981]: "This document describes Path MTU Discovery for IP version 6. It is largely derived from RFC 1191, which describes Path MTU Discovery for IP version 4." RFC 4821 S: "Packetization Layer Path MTU Discovery" (March 2007) Abstract of RFC 4821 [RFC4821]: "This document describes a robust method for Path MTU Discovery (PMTUD) that relies on TCP or some other Packetization Layer to probe an Internet path with progressively larger packets. This method is described as an extension to RFC 1191 and RFC 1981, which specify ICMP-based Path MTU Discovery for IP versions 4 and 6, respectively."
RFC 1144 S: "Compressing TCP/IP Headers for Low-Speed Serial Links" (February 1990) This document [RFC1144] describes a method for compressing the headers of TCP/IP datagrams to improve performance over low-speed serial links. The method described in this document is limited in its handling of TCP options and cannot compress the headers of SYNs and FINs. RFC 6846 S: "RObust Header Compression (ROHC): A Profile for TCP/IP (ROHC-TCP)" (January 2013) From the Abstract of RFC 6846 [RFC6846]: "This document specifies a RObust Header Compression (ROHC) profile for compression of TCP/ IP packets. The profile, called ROHC-TCP, provides efficient and robust compression of TCP headers, including frequently used TCP options such as selective acknowledgments (SACKs) and Timestamps." RFC 6846 is the successor of RFC 4996. It fixes a technical issue with the SACK compression and clarifies other compression methods used.
RFC 4953 I: "Defending TCP Against Spoofing Attacks" (July 2007) This document [RFC4953] discusses the recently increased vulnerability of long-lived TCP connections, such as BGP connections, to reset (send RST) spoofing attacks. The document analyzes the vulnerability, discussing proposed solutions at the transport level and their inherent challenges, as well as existing network level solutions and the feasibility of their deployment. RFC 5461 I: "TCP's Reaction to Soft Errors" (February 2009) This document [RFC5461] describes a nonstandard but widely implemented modification to TCP's handling of ICMP soft error messages that rejects pending connection-requests when such error messages are received. This behavior reduces the likelihood of long delays between connection-establishment attempts that may arise in some scenarios. RFC 4987 I: "TCP SYN Flooding Attacks and Common Mitigations" (August 2007) This document [RFC4987] describes the well-known TCP SYN flooding attack. It analyzes and discusses various countermeasures against these attacks, including their use and trade-offs. RFC 5925 S: "The TCP Authentication Option" (June 2010) This document [RFC5925] describes the TCP Authentication Option (TCP-AO), which is used to authenticate TCP segments. TCP-AO obsoletes the TCP MD5 Signature option of RFC 2385. It supports the use of stronger hash functions, protects against replays for long-lived TCP connections (as used, e.g., in BGP and LDP), coordinates key exchanges between endpoints, and provides a more explicit recommendation for external key management. Cryptographic algorithms for TCP-AO are defined in [RFC5926] (see below in Section 3.7). RFC 5926 S: "Cryptographic Algorithms for the TCP Authentication Option (TCP-AO)" (June 2010) This document [RFC5926] specifies the algorithms and attributes that can be used in TCP Authentication Option's (TCP-AO) [RFC5925] (see above in Section 3.7) current manual keying mechanism and provides the interface for future message authentication codes (MACs).
RFC 5927 I: "ICMP Attacks against TCP" (July 2010) Abstract of RFC 5927 [RFC5927]: "This document discusses the use of the Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) to perform a variety of attacks against the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). Additionally, this document describes a number of widely implemented modifications to TCP's handling of ICMP error messages that help to mitigate these issues." RFC 5961 S: "Improving TCP's Robustness to Blind In-Window Attacks" (August 2010) This document [RFC5961] describes minor modifications to how TCP handles inbound segments. This renders TCP connections, especially long-lived connections such as H-323 or BGP, less vulnerable to spoofed packet injection attacks where the 4-tuple (the source and destination IP addresses and the source and destination ports) has been guessed. RFC 6528 S: "Defending against Sequence Number Attacks" (February 2012) Abstract of RFC 6528 [RFC6528]: "This document specifies an algorithm for the generation of TCP Initial Sequence Numbers (ISNs), such that the chances of an off-path attacker guessing the sequence numbers in use by a target connection are reduced. This document revises (and formally obsoletes) RFC 1948, and takes the ISN generation algorithm originally proposed in that document to Standards Track, formally updating RFC 793"