Poisoning Network Visibility in Software-Defined Networks: New Attacks and Countermeasures
Download: Paper (PDF)
Date: 7 Feb 2015
Document Type: Briefing Papers
Additional Documents: Slides
Associated Event: NDSS Symposium 2015
Software-Defined Networking (SDN) is a new networking paradigm that grants a controller and its applications an omnipotent power to have holistic network visibility and flexible network programmability, thus enabling new innovations in network protocols and applications. One of the core advantages of SDN is its logically centralized control plane to provide the entire network visibility, on which many SDN applications rely. For the first time in the literature, we propose new attack vectors unique to SDN that seriously challenges this foundation. Our new attacks are somewhat similar in spirit to spoofing attacks in legacy networks (e.g., ARP poisoning attack), however with significant differences in exploiting unique vulnerabilities how current SDN operates differently from legacy networks. The successful attacks can effectively poison the network topology information, a fundamental building block for core SDN components and topology-aware SDN applications. With the poisoned network visibility, the upper layer OpenFlow Controller services/apps may be totally misled, leading to serious hijacking, denial of service or man-in-the-middle attacks. According to our study, all current major SDN Controllers we find in the market (e.g., Floodlight, OpenDaylight, Beacon, POX) are affected, i.e., they are subject to the Network Topology Poisoning Attacks. We then investigate the mitigation methods against the Network Topology Poisoning Attacks and present OFTOPOSEC, a new security extension to SDN Controllers, which provides automatic and real-time detection of Network Topology Poisoning Attacks. Our evaluation on a prototype implementation of OFTOPOSEC in Floodlight Controller shows that the defense solution can effectively secure network topology while introducing only a minor impact on normal operation of OpenFlow Controllers.