Localizing the Effects of Link Flooding Attacks in the Internet
Lee, Soo Bum
Gligor, Virgil D.
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Malware-contaminated hosts organized as a ``bot network'' can target and flood network links (e.g., routers). Yet, none of the countermeasures to link flooding proposed to date have provided dependable link access (i.e., link access guarantees) for legitimate traffic during such attacks. Network-layer capabilities offer strong protection against link flooding by authorizing individual flows with unforgeable credentials (i.e., capabilities). However, network-layer capabilities are insufficient for dependable link access, for several reasons: (1) the capability-setup channel is vulnerable to flooding attacks that prevent legitimate clients from acquiring capabilities; i.e., Denial of Capability (DoC) attacks, (2) compromised attack sources that have acquired capabilities in a legitimate way can flood the privileged channel reserved for capability carrying packets, and (3) the global effects of flooding attacks are still unavoidable with ``per-flow'' based capabilities. In this dissertation, we present a router-level design that confines the effects of link flooding attacks to specified locales or neighborhoods (e.g., one or more administrative domains of the Internet) based on network-layer capabilities. Our design provides differential guarantees for access to network links that favor packets from uncontaminated domains by attack sources (e.g., bots) and yet do not deny access to packets from contaminated domains. For connection-request packets (i.e., capability requests), differential access guarantees are defined as the probabilistic lower bounds for link access: requests from uncontaminated domains have higher probabilistic lower bounds for link access than those from contaminated domains. For all other packets, differential access guarantees are defined in terms of the the bandwidth allocated to packet flows; i.e., flows of malware-uncontaminated domains receive higher bandwidth guarantees than flows of contaminated ones, and legitimate flows of contaminated domains are guaranteed substantially higher bandwidth than attack flows. Potential side-effects of attack flows (e.g., multiple congested links) are mitigated by a differential routing scheme, whereby flows of malware-uncontaminated domains are routed through less congested paths while those of contaminated domains are routed through the ``pinned'' default paths. We present analytical models for the proposed notions of dependable link access, and evaluate our router design both by comprehensive simulations under different attack scenarios and by comparisons with other flooding-defense schemes.