IETF News

Message from the IETF Chair – March 2017

I wanted to summarize my thoughts of the discussions at IETF 97. We had 1,042 people from 52 countries on-site in Seoul, very active development on a number of fronts, and overall a successful meeting!

The meeting was supported by our host Huawei, cohosts the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) and the Korean Internet & Security Agency (KISA), and a long list of sponsors. Thank you for your support!

The topic of the meeting was, of course, Internet tech and its evolution. The two most active discussion topics were (1) the increasingly serious denial-of-service attacks that we are seeing, and (2) the development of a new transport protocol, QUIC, as an alternative to TCP and TLS and especially being more optimized for HTTP/2 usage.

The most recent denial-of-service attacks involved a number of compromised Internet of Things devices attacking DNS infrastructure. The Internet Architecture Board (IAB) organized a discussion of these attacks as an example of a more general concern: the addition of millions of new hosts has the capability to overwhelm the Internet infrastructure when those hosts misbehave. There are ways to mitigate the attacks, but not without impacts in other ways, such as finding it necessary to deploy your services on large providers.

At the very least, I think it would be beneficial for the IETF community to continue to call attention to folks that the minimum bar, when introducing a large number of devices (or any device) to the Internet, includes things like automatic software updates and avoiding default passwords. I used to think this was so obvious that it needn’t be said, but I’m not so sure anymore. Nevertheless, the area for us to have an impact is improving defense and mitigation mechanisms. See a video of the session at https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3715&v=qPaaRaNxIY4.

The IETF recently chartered a Working Group to specify QUIC (Quick UDP Internet Connections). This new protocol combines the TCP and TLS layers, is typically implemented in user space rather than kernel space, and aims for faster connection setups using resumption, integrated security, and capabilities to evolve the protocol faster (not being in the kernel).

A previous version of the protocol, already in use at Google, was taken as a starting point for discussion in the Working Group. I’m quite excited about this development, and eager to see where it takes us, and it seems that I’m not alone—the QUIC room was completely full.

Once again, the IETF Hackathon was running the weekend before the IETF. It was outstanding to see large student groups among the participants. A student team from SungKyunKwan University worked on the Interface to Network Security Functions (I2NSF) framework, for instance. They even had jackets made for the event! There was also a second large student team—on the other side of the world! The team from Université Catholique de Louvain worked on Multipath TCP, but much of their team did their work from back home in Belgium.

Videos from IETF 97 sessions, interviews, and so forth are available as a YouTube playlist at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLC86T-6ZTP5gtLuoSjpTGO_mS5Ly2pfIS. The official proceedings with slides, minutes and everything else can be found at https://datatracker.ietf.org/meeting/97/proceedings. See also the blog post on routing area outcomes from IETF 97 at https://www.ietf.org/blog/2016/12/reflections-on-the-routing-area-after-ietf-97/, and the blog post from Srimal Andrahennadi from his experiences in participating as an Internet Society Fellow at the IETF at https://blog.apnic.net/2016/12/14/ietf-97-fellowship-experience/.

In addition to the Internet Society Fellows, a number of other gatherings happen during the week. The Internet Society also runs a Policy Fellows programme, with participants from regulators, governments, and other policy makers who do not usually attend technical conferences. Contact Konstantinos Komaitis at the Internet Society if you want to participate in this programme. The IEPG meeting on Sundays is a discussion among network operators. And the Systers Lunch gathers the women participants. Contact Allison Mankin at allison.mankin@gmail.com if you’d like to join them.

See you in at IETF 98 in Chicago!

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