Cryptology ePrint Archive: Report 2013/623

Off-Path Hacking: The Illusion of Challenge-Response Authentication

Yossi Gilad and Amir Herzberg and Haya Shulman

Abstract: Everyone is concerned about Internet security, yet most traffic is not cryptographically protected. Typical justification is that most attackers are off-path and cannot intercept traffic; hence, intuitively, challenge-response defenses should suffice to ensure authenticity. Often, the challenges re-use existing header fields to protect widelydeployed protocols such as TCP and DNS. We argue that this practice may often give an illusion of security. We review recent off-path TCP injection and DNS poisoning attacks, enabling attackers to circumvent existing challenge-response defenses. Both TCP and DNS attacks are non-trivial, yet practical. The attacks foil widely deployed security mechanisms, and allow a wide range of exploits, such as long-term caching of malicious objects and scripts. We hope that this review article will help improve defenses against off-path attackers. In particular, we hope to motivate, when feasible, adoption of cryptographic mechanisms such as SSL/TLS, IPsec and DNSSEC, providing security even against stronger Man-in-the-Middle attackers.

Category / Keywords: cryptographic protocols / challenge-response defenses, cryptographic protocols, off-path attacks, DNS cache poisoning, TCP injections.

Original Publication (in the same form): IEEE Security and Privacy Magazine

Date: received 26 Sep 2013

Contact author: haya shulman at gmail com

Available format(s): PDF | BibTeX Citation

Version: 20130928:175200 (All versions of this report)

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