IPsec and Internet Key Exchange (IKE)
In version 1 of IKE (IKEv1), four authentication methods are available for Phase 1, in which initial authenticated keying material is established: Two public key encryption based methods, one signature based method, and a PSK (Pre-Shared Key) based method.
Pre-Shared Key authentication
Weaknesses of PSK authentication
Who is affected?
On August 14th 2018, Graham Bartlett (Cisco) email us that he presented the weakness of PSK in IKEv2 in several public presentations and in his book.
On August 15th 2018, we were informed by Tamir Zegman that John Pliam described the attack on his web page in 1999.
- Do you have a name, logo, any merchandising for the attack?
- Have I been attacked?
We mentioned above that such an attack would require an active man-in-the-middle attack. In the logs this could look like a failed connection attempt or a session timed out. But this is a rather weak indication and no evidence for an attack.
- What should I do?
If you do not have the option to switch to authentication with digital signatures, choose a Pre-Shared Key that resists dictionary attacks. If you want to achieve e.g. 128 bits of security, configure a PSK with at least 19 random ASCII characters. And do not use something that can be found in public databases.
- Am I safe if I use PSKs with IKEv2?
No, interestingly the standard also mentions that IKEv2 does not prevent against off-line dictionary attacks.
- Where can I learn more?
You can read the paper. [alternative link to the paper]
- What else does the paper contain?
The paper contains a lot more details than this blogpost. It explains all authentication methods of IKEv1 and it gives message flow diagrams of the protocol. There, we describe a variant of the attack that uses the Bleichenbacher oracles to forge signatures to target IKEv2.