IPsec Data Plane Configuration Guide, Cisco IOS Release 15M&T
IPsec NAT Transparency
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IPsec NAT Transparency

IPsec NAT Transparency

Last Updated: December 2, 2012

The IPsec NAT Transparency feature introduces support for IP Security (IPsec) traffic to travel through Network Address Translation (NAT) or Port Address Translation (PAT) points in the network by addressing many known incompatibilities between NAT and IPsec.

Before the introduction of this feature, a standard IPsec virtual private network (VPN) tunnel would not work if there were one or more NAT or PAT points in the delivery path of the IPsec packet. This feature makes NAT IPsec-aware, thereby, allowing remote access users to build IPsec tunnels to home gateways.


Note


Security threats, as well as the cryptographic technologies to help protect against them, are constantly changing. For more information about the latest Cisco cryptographic recommendations, see the Next Generation Encryption (NGE) white paper.

Finding Feature Information

Your software release may not support all the features documented in this module. For the latest caveats and feature information, see Bug Search Tool and the release notes for your platform and software release. To find information about the features documented in this module, and to see a list of the releases in which each feature is supported, see the feature information table at the end of this module.

Use Cisco Feature Navigator to find information about platform support and Cisco software image support. To access Cisco Feature Navigator, go to www.cisco.com/go/cfn. An account on Cisco.com is not required.

Restrictions for IPsec NAT Transparency

Although this feature addresses many incompatibilities between NAT and IPsec, the following problems still exist:

Internet Key Exchange (IKE) IP Address and NAT

This incompatibility applies only when IP addresses are used as a search key to find a preshared key. Modification of the IP source or destination addresses by NAT or reverse NAT results in a mismatch between the IP address and the preshared key.

Embedded IP Addresses and NAT

Because the payload is integrity protected, any IP address enclosed within IPsec packets cannot be translated by NAT. Protocols that use embedded IP addresses include FTP, Internet Relay Chat (IRC), Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), H.323, and Session Initiation Protocol (SIP).

Information About IPsec NAT Transparency

Feature Design of IPsec NAT Traversal

The IPsec NAT Transparency feature introduces support for IPsec traffic to travel through NAT or PAT points in the network by encapsulating IPsec packets in a User Datagram Protocol (UDP) wrapper, which allows the packets to travel across NAT devices. The following sections define the details of NAT traversal:

IKE Phase 1 Negotiation NAT Detection

During Internet Key Exchange (IKE) phase 1 negotiation, two types of NAT detection occur before IKE Quick Mode begins--NAT support and NAT existence along the network path.

To detect NAT support, you should exchange the vendor identification (ID) string with the remote peer. During Main Mode (MM) 1 and MM 2 of IKE phase 1, the remote peer sends a vendor ID string payload to its peer to indicate that this version supports NAT traversal. Thereafter, NAT existence along the network path can be determined.

Detecting whether NAT exists along the network path allows you to find any NAT device between two peers and the exact location of NAT. A NAT device can translate the private IP address and port to public value (or from public to private). This translation changes the IP address and port if the packet goes through the device. To detect whether a NAT device exists along the network path, the peers should send a payload with hashes of the IP address and port of both the source and destination address from each end. If both ends calculate the hashes and the hashes match, each peer knows that a NAT device does not exist on the network path between them. If the hashes do not match (that is, someone translated the address or port), then each peer needs to perform NAT traversal to get the IPsec packet through the network.

The hashes are sent as a series of NAT discovery (NAT-D) payloads. Each payload contains one hash; if multiple hashes exist, multiple NAT-D payloads are sent. In most environments, there are only two NAT-D payloads--one for the source address and port and one for the destination address and port. The destination NAT-D payload is sent first, followed by the source NAT-D payload, which implies that the receiver should expect to process the local NAT-D payload first and the remote NAT-D payload second. The NAT-D payloads are included in the third and fourth messages in Main Mode and in the second and third messages in Aggressive Mode (AM).

IKE Phase 2 Negotiation NAT Traversal Decision

While IKE phase 1 detects NAT support and NAT existence along the network path, IKE phase 2 decides whether or not the peers at both ends will use NAT traversal. Quick Mode (QM) security association (SA) payload in QM1 and QM2 is used to for NAT traversal negotiation.

Because the NAT device changes the IP address and port number, incompatibilities between NAT and IPsec can be created. Thus, exchanging the original source address bypasses any incompatibilities.

UDP Encapsulation of IPsec Packets for NAT Traversal

In addition to allowing IPsec packets to traverse across NAT devices, UDP encapsulation also addresses many incompatibility issues between IPsec and NAT and PAT. The resolved issues are as follows:

Incompatibility Between IPsec ESP and PAT--Resolved

If PAT found a legislative IP address and port, it would drop the Encapsulating Security Payload (ESP) packet. To prevent this scenario, UDP encapsulation is used to hide the ESP packet behind the UDP header. Thus, PAT treats the ESP packet as a UDP packet, processing the ESP packet as a normal UDP packet.

Incompatibility Between Checksums and NAT--Resolved

In the new UDP header, the checksum value is always assigned to zero. This value prevents an intermediate device from validating the checksum against the packet checksum, thereby, resolving the TCP UDP checksum issue because NAT changes the IP source and destination addresses.

Incompatibility Between Fixed IKE Destination Ports and PAT--Resolved

PAT changes the port address in the new UDP header for translation and leaves the original payload unchanged.

To see how UDP encapsulation helps to send IPSec packets see the figures below.

Figure 1 Standard IPsec Tunnel Through a NAT/PAT Point (No UDP Encapsulation)


Figure 2 IPsec Packet with UDP Encapsulation


UDP Encapsulated Process for Software Engines Transport Mode and Tunnel Mode ESP Encapsulation

After the IPsec packet is encrypted by a hardware accelerator or a software crypto engine, a UDP header and a non-IKE marker (which is 8 bytes in length) are inserted between the original IP header and ESP header. The total length, protocol, and checksum fields are changed to match this modification. The first figure below shows an IPsec packet before and after transport mode is applied; the second figure below shows an IPsec packet before and after tunnel mode is applied.

Figure 3 Transport Mode--IPsec Packet Before and After ESP Encapsulation


Figure 4 Tunnel Mode--IPsec Packet Before and After ESP Encapsulation


NAT Keepalives

NAT keepalives are enabled to keep the dynamic NAT mapping alive during a connection between two peers. NAT keepalives are UDP packets with an unencrypted payload of 1 byte. Although the current dead peer detection (DPD) implementation is similar to NAT keepalives, there is a slight difference: DPD is used to detect peer status, while NAT keepalives are sent if the IPsec entity did not send or receive the packet at a specified period of time--valid range is between 5 to 3600 seconds.

If NAT keepalives are enabled (through the crypto isamkp nat keepalive command), users should ensure that the idle value is shorter than the NAT mapping expiration time, which is 20 seconds.

How to Configure NAT and IPsec

Configuring NAT Traversal

NAT Traversal is a feature that is auto detected by VPN devices. There are no configuration steps for a router running Cisco IOS Release 12.2(13)T. If both VPN devices are NAT-T capable, NAT Traversal is auto detected and auto negotiated.

Disabling NAT Traversal

You may wish to disable NAT traversal if you already know that your network uses IPsec-awareness NAT (spi-matching scheme). To disable NAT traversal, use the following commands:

SUMMARY STEPS

1.    enable

2.    configure terminal

3.    no crypto ipsec nat-transparency udp-encapsulation


DETAILED STEPS
  Command or Action Purpose
Step 1
enable


Example:

Router> enable

 

Enables higher privilege levels, such as privileged EXEC mode.

Enter your password if prompted.

 
Step 2
configure terminal


Example:

Router# configure terminal

 

Enters global configuration mode.

 
Step 3
no crypto ipsec nat-transparency udp-encapsulation


Example:

Router(config)# no crypto ipsec nat-transparency udp-encapsulation

 

Disables NAT traversal.

 

Configuring NAT Keepalives

To configure your router to send NAT keepalives, use the following commands:

SUMMARY STEPS

1.    enable

2.    configure terminal

3.    crypto isakmp nat keepalive seconds


DETAILED STEPS
  Command or Action Purpose
Step 1
enable


Example:

Router> enable

 

Enables higher privilege levels, such as privileged EXEC mode.

Enter your password if prompted.

 
Step 2
configure terminal


Example:

Router# configure terminal

 

Enters global configuration mode.

 
Step 3
crypto isakmp nat keepalive seconds


Example:

Router(config)# crypto isakmp nat keepalive 20

 

Allows an IPsec node to send NAT keepalive packets.

  • seconds --The number of seconds between keepalive packets; range is between 5 to 3,600 seconds.
Note    When the timer is modified, it is modified for every Internet Security Association Key Management Protocol (ISAKMP) security association (SA) when the keepalive for that SA is sent based on the existing timer.
Note    A five-percent jitter mechanism value is applied to the timer to avoid security association rekey collisions. If there are many peer routers, and the timer is configured too low, then the router can experience high CPU usage.
 

Verifying IPsec Configuration

To verify your configuration, perform the following optional steps:

SUMMARY STEPS

1.    enable

2.    show crypto ipsec sa [map map-name | address | identity] [detail


DETAILED STEPS
  Command or Action Purpose
Step 1
enable


Example:

Router> enable

 

Enables higher privilege levels, such as privileged EXEC mode.

Enter your password if prompted.

 
Step 2
show crypto ipsec sa [map map-name | address | identity] [detail


Example:

Router# show crypto ipsec sa

 

Displays the settings used by current SAs.

 

Configuration Examples for IPsec and NAT

NAT Keepalives Configuration Example

The following example shows how to enable NAT keepalives to be sent every 20 seconds:

crypto isakmp policy 1
  encryption aes
  authentication pre-share
  group 14
crypto isakmp key 1234 address 56.0.0.1
crypto isakmp nat keepalive 20
!
!
crypto ipsec transform-set t2 esp-aes esp-sha-hmac
!
crypto map test2 10 ipsec-isakmp
 set peer 56.0.0.1
 set transform-set t2
 match address 101

Additional References

Related Documents

Related Topic

Document Title

Additional NAT configuration tasks.

  • Configuring NAT for IP Address Conservation
  • Using Application Level Gateways with NAT
  • Configuring NAT for High Availability
  • Configuring Hosted NAT Traversal for Session Border Controller
  • Integrating NAT with MPLS VPNs
  • Scalability for Stateful NAT
  • NAT - Optimized SIP Media Path with SDP

Additional NAT commands

Cisco IOS IP Addressing Services Command Reference

Additional IPsec configuration tasks

Configuring Security for VPNs with IPsec

Additional IPsec commands

Cisco IOS Security Command Reference

Information on IKE

Configuring Internet Key Exchange for IPsec VPNs

Additional information on IKE dead peer detection.

Easy VPN Server

Recommended cryptographic algorithms

Next Generation Encryption

MIBs

MIBs

MIBs Link

None

To locate and download MIBs for selected platforms, Cisco IOS software releases, and feature sets, use Cisco MIB Locator found at the following URL:

http://www.cisco.com/go/mibs

RFCs

RFCs1

Title

RFC 2402

IP Authentication Header

RFC 2406

IP Encapsulating Security Payload (ESP)

RFC 3947

Negotiation of NAT-Traversal in the IKE

1 Not all supported RFCs are listed.

Technical Assistance

Description

Link

The Cisco Support and Documentation website provides online resources to download documentation, software, and tools. Use these resources to install and configure the software and to troubleshoot and resolve technical issues with Cisco products and technologies. Access to most tools on the Cisco Support and Documentation website requires a Cisco.com user ID and password.

http://www.cisco.com/cisco/web/support/index.html

Feature Information for IPsec NAT Transparency

The following table provides release information about the feature or features described in this module. This table lists only the software release that introduced support for a given feature in a given software release train. Unless noted otherwise, subsequent releases of that software release train also support that feature.

Use Cisco Feature Navigator to find information about platform support and Cisco software image support. To access Cisco Feature Navigator, go to www.cisco.com/go/cfn. An account on Cisco.com is not required.

Table 1 Feature Information for IPsec NAT Transparency

Feature Name

Releases

Feature Information

IPsec NAT Transparency

12.2(13)T

The IPsec NAT Transparency feature introduces support for IP Security (IPsec) traffic to travel through Network Address Translation (NAT) or Port Address Translation (PAT) points in the network by addressing many known incompatibilities between NAT and IPsec.

In 12.2(13)T, this feature was introduced on the Cisco IOS software.

The following commands were introduced or modified: crypto isamkp nat keepalive, access-list (IP extended) , show crypto ipsec sa.

Glossary

IKE --Internet Key Exchange. Hybrid protocol that implements Oakley key exchange and Skeme key exchange inside the Internet Security Association Key Management Protocol (ISAKMP) framework. Although IKE can be used with other protocols, its initial implementation is with IPsec. IKE provides authentication of the IPsec peers, negotiates IPsec keys, and negotiates IPsec security associations (SAs).

IPsec --IP Security. Framework of open standards developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). IPsec provides security for transmission of sensitive information over unprotected networks such as the Internet. IPsec acts at the network layer, protecting and authenticating IP packets between participating IPsec devices ("peers"), such as Cisco routers.

NAT --Network Address Translation. Translates a private IP address used inside the corporation to a public, routable address for use on the outside of the corporation, such as the Internet. NAT is considered a one-to-one mapping of addresses from private to public.

PAT --Port Address Translation. Like NAT, PAT also translated private IP address to public, routable addresses. Unlike NAT, PAT provides a many-to-one mapping of private addresses to a public address; each instance of the public address is associated with a particular port number to provide uniqueness. PAT can be used in environments where the cost of obtaining a range of public addresses is too expensive for an organization.

Cisco and the Cisco logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Cisco and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and other countries. To view a list of Cisco trademarks, go to this URL: www.cisco.com/go/trademarks. Third-party trademarks mentioned are the property of their respective owners. The use of the word partner does not imply a partnership relationship between Cisco and any other company. (1110R)

Any Internet Protocol (IP) addresses and phone numbers used in this document are not intended to be actual addresses and phone numbers. Any examples, command display output, network topology diagrams, and other figures included in the document are shown for illustrative purposes only. Any use of actual IP addresses or phone numbers in illustrative content is unintentional and coincidental.

© 2012 Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.