[Resource Topic] 2015/1020: Attacking the Network Time Protocol

Welcome to the resource topic for 2015/1020

Attacking the Network Time Protocol

Authors: Aanchal Malhotra, Isaac E. Cohen, Erik Brakke, Sharon Goldberg


We explore the risk that network attackers can exploit unauthenticated Network Time Protocol (NTP) traffic to alter the time on client systems. We first discuss how an on-path attacker, that hijacks traffic to an NTP server, can quickly shift time on the server’s clients. Then, we present a extremely low-rate (single packet) denial-of-service attack that an off-path attacker, located anywhere on the network, can use to disable NTP clock synchronization on a client. Next, we show how an off-path attacker can exploit IPv4 packet fragmentation to shift time on a client. We discuss the implications on these attacks on other core Internet protocols, quantify their attack surface using Internet measurements, and suggest a few simple countermeasures that can improve the security of NTP.

ePrint: https://eprint.iacr.org/2015/1020

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