Author(s): Sungmin Hong, Lei Xu, Haopei Wang, Guofei Gu

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.