Internet-Draft join-metric September 2022
Richardson, et al. Expires 5 March 2023 [Page]
ROLL Working Group
Intended Status:
Standards Track
M. Richardson
Sandelman Software Works
R. A. Jadhav
Huawei Tech
P. Thubert
Cisco Systems
H. She
Cisco Systems

Controlling Secure Network Enrollment in RPL networks


[RFC9032] defines a method by which a potential [RFC9031] enrollment proxy can announce itself as a available for new Pledges to enroll on a network. The announcement includes a priority for enrollment. This document provides a mechanism by which a RPL DODAG root can disable enrollment announcements, or adjust the base priority for enrollment operation.

Status of This Memo

This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Note that other groups may also distribute working documents as Internet-Drafts. The list of current Internet-Drafts is at

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This Internet-Draft will expire on 5 March 2023.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

[RFC7554] describes the use of the time-slotted channel hopping (TSCH) mode of [ieee802154]. [RFC9031] and [RFC9032] describe mechanisms by which a new node (the "pledge") can use a friendly router as a Join Proxy. [RFC9032] describes an extension to the 802.15.4 Enhanced Beacon that is used by a Join Proxy to announce its existence such that Pledges can find them.

1.1. Motivation and Overview

It has become clear that not every routing member of the mesh ought to announce itself as a Join Proxy. There are a variety of local reasons by which a 6LR might not want to provide the Join Proxy function. They include available battery power, already committed network bandwidth, and also total available memory available for Neighbor Cache Entry slots.

There are other situations where the operator of the network would like to selectively enable or disable the enrollment process in a particular DODAG.

As the enrollment process involves permitting unencrypted traffic into the best effort part of a (TSCH) network, it would be better to have the enrollment process off when no new nodes are expected.

A network operator might also be able to recognize when certain parts of the network are overloaded and can not accomodate additional enrollment traffic, and it would like to adjust the enrollment priority (the proxy priority field of [RFC9032]) among all nodes in the subtree of a congested link.

It may derive from multiple constraining factors, e.g., the size of the DODAG, the occupancy of the bandwidth at the Root, the memory capacity at the DODAG Root, or an administrative decision.

Each potential Join Proxy would utilize this value as a base on which to add values relating to local conditions such as its Rank and number of pending joins, which would degrade even further the willingness to take more joins.

When a RPL domain is composed of multiple DODAGs, nodes at the edge of 2 DODAGs may not only join either DODAG but also move from one to the other in order to keep their relative sizes balanced. For this, the approximate knowledge of size of the DODAG is an essential metric. Depending on the network policy, the size of the DODAG may or may not affect the minimum enrollment priority. It would be limiting its value to enforce that one is proportional to the other. This is why the current size of the DODAG is advertised separately in the new option.

As explained in [RFC9032], higher values decrease the likelihood of an unenrolled node sending enrollment traffic via this path.

A network operator can set this value to the maximum value allowed, effectively disabling all new enrollment traffic.

Updates to the option propagate through the network according to the trickle algorithm. The contents of the option are generated at the DODAG Root and do not change at any hop. If the contents represent an update that is considered important (e.g., quickly disabling any enrollments), the option can trigger trickle timer resets at the nodes to speed up its propagation.

2. Terminology

The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "NOT RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in BCP 14 [RFC2119] [RFC8174] when, and only when, they appear in all capitals, as shown here.

The term (1)"Join" has been used in documents like [RFC9031] to denote the activity of a new node authenticating itself to the network in order to obtain authorization to become a member of the network.

In the context of the [RFC6550] RPL protocol, the term (2)"Join" has an alternative meaning: that of a node (already authenticating to the network, and already authorized to be a member of the network), deciding which part of the RPL DODAG to attach to. This term "Join" has to do with preferred parent selection processes.

In order to avoid the ambiguity of this term, this document refers to the process (1)"Join" as enrollment, leaving the term "Join" to mean (2)"Join". The term "onboarding" (or IoT Onboarding) is increasingly used to describe what was called enrollment in other documents. However, the term Join Proxy is retained with its meaning from [RFC9031].

3. Protocol Definition

This document uses the extensions mechanism designed into [RFC6550]. No mechanism is needed to enable it.

3.1. Option Format

The resulting priority, if less than 0x7f should enable the Join Proxy function.

    0                   1                   2                   3
    0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
   |   Type        |Opt Length = 3 |  exp  |     DODAG_Size        |
   |R| min priority|

to be assigned by IANA.


a 4 bit unsigned integer, indicating the power of 2 that defines the unit of the DODAG Size, such that (unit=2^exp).


a 12 bit unsigned integer, expressing the size of the DODAG in units that depend on the exp field. The size of the DODAG is computed as (DAG_Size*2^exp).


a 7 bit field which provides a base value for the Enhanced Beacon Join priority. A value of 0x7f (127) disables the Join Proxy function entirely.


a reserved bit that SHOULD be set to 0 by senders, and MUST be ignored by receivers. This reserved bit SHOULD be copied to options created.

This document uses the extensions mechanism designed into [RFC6550]. It does not need any mechanism to enable it.

The size of the DODAG is measured by the Root based one the DAO activity. It represents a number of routes not a number of nodes, and can only be used to infer a load in a homogeneous network where each node advertises the same number of addresses and generates roughly the same amount of traffic. The size may slightly change between a DIO and the next, so the value transmitted MUST be considered as an approximation.

Future work like [I-D.ietf-roll-capabilities] will enable collection of capabilities such as this one in reports to the DODAG root.

3.2. Upwards compatibility

A 6LR which did not support this option would not act on it, or copy it into it's DIO messages. Children and grandchildren nodes would therefore not receive any telemetry via that path, and need to assume a default value.

A 6LR which did not support this option would not act on it or propagate it in its DIO messages. In effect, the 6LR's children and grandchildren nodes could not receive any telemetry via that path. Therefore, 6LRs that support this option but do not receive it via any path SHOULD assume a default value of 0x40 as their base value for the Enhanced Beacon Join Priority.

A 6LR downstream of a 6LR where there was an interruption in the telemetry could err in two directions:

  • if the value implied by the base value of 0x40 was too low, then a 6LR might continue to attract enrollment traffic when none should have been collected. This is a stressor for the network, but this would also be what would occur without this option at all.
  • if the value implied by the base value of 0x40 was too high, then a 6LR might deflect enrollment traffic to other parts of the DODAG tree, possibly refusing any enrollment traffic at all. In order for this to happen, some significant congestion must be seen in the sub-tree where the implied 0x40 was introduced.

The 0x40 is only the half-way point, so if such an amount of congestion was present, then this sub-tree of the DODAG simply winds up being more cautious than it needed to be.

It is possible that the temporal alternation of the above two situations might introduce cycles of accepting and then rejecting enrollment traffic. This is something an operator should consider if when they incrementally deploy this option to an existing LLN. In addition, an operator would be unable to turn off enrollment traffic by sending a maximum value enrollment priority to the sub-tree. This situation is unfortunate, but without this option, the the situation would occur all over the DODAG, rather than just in the sub-tree where the option was omitted.

4. Security Considerations

As per [RFC7416], RPL control frames either run over a secured layer 2, or use the [RFC6550] Secure DIO methods. This option can be placed into either a "clear" (layer-2 secured) DIO, or a layer-3 Secure DIO. As such this option will have both integrity and confidentiality mechanisms applied to it.

A malicious node (that was part of the RPL control plane) could see these options and could, based upon the observed minimal enrollment priority signal a confederate that it was a good time to send malicious join traffic.

Such as a malicious node, being already part of the RPL control plane, could also send DIOs with a different minimal enrollment priority which would cause downstream mesh routers to change their Join Proxy behavior.

Lower minimal priorities would cause downstream nodes to accept more pledges than the network was expecting, and higher minimal priorities cause the enrollment process to stall.

The use of layer-2 or layer-3 security for RPL control messages prevents the above two attacks, by preventing malicious nodes from becoming part of the control plane. A node that is attacked and has malware placed on it creates vulnerabilities in the same way such an attack on any node involved in Internet routing protocol does. The rekeying provisions of [RFC9031] exist to permit an operator to remove such nodes from the network easily.

5. Privacy Considerations

There are no new privacy issues caused by this extension.

6. IANA Considerations

Allocate a new number TBD01 from Registry RPL Control Message Options. This entry should be called Minimum Enrollment Priority.

7. Acknowledgements

This has been reviewed by Konrad Iwanicki and Thomas Watteyne.

8. References

8.1. Normative References

IEEE standard for Information Technology, "IEEE Std. 802.15.4, Part. 15.4: Wireless Medium Access Control (MAC) and Physical Layer (PHY) Specifications for Low-Rate Wireless Personal Area Networks", n.d., <>.
Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, , <>.
Winter, T., Ed., Thubert, P., Ed., Brandt, A., Hui, J., Kelsey, R., Levis, P., Pister, K., Struik, R., Vasseur, JP., and R. Alexander, "RPL: IPv6 Routing Protocol for Low-Power and Lossy Networks", RFC 6550, DOI 10.17487/RFC6550, , <>.
Tsao, T., Alexander, R., Dohler, M., Daza, V., Lozano, A., and M. Richardson, Ed., "A Security Threat Analysis for the Routing Protocol for Low-Power and Lossy Networks (RPLs)", RFC 7416, DOI 10.17487/RFC7416, , <>.
Watteyne, T., Ed., Palattella, M., and L. Grieco, "Using IEEE 802.15.4e Time-Slotted Channel Hopping (TSCH) in the Internet of Things (IoT): Problem Statement", RFC 7554, DOI 10.17487/RFC7554, , <>.
Leiba, B., "Ambiguity of Uppercase vs Lowercase in RFC 2119 Key Words", BCP 14, RFC 8174, DOI 10.17487/RFC8174, , <>.
Vučinić, M., Ed., Simon, J., Pister, K., and M. Richardson, "Constrained Join Protocol (CoJP) for 6TiSCH", RFC 9031, DOI 10.17487/RFC9031, , <>.
Dujovne, D., Ed. and M. Richardson, "Encapsulation of 6TiSCH Join and Enrollment Information Elements", RFC 9032, DOI 10.17487/RFC9032, , <>.

8.2. Informative References

Jadhav, R. A., Thubert, P., Richardson, M., and R. N. Sahoo, "RPL Capabilities", Work in Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-ietf-roll-capabilities-09, , <>.

Appendix A. Change history

version 00.


Konrad Iwanicki

Authors' Addresses

Michael Richardson
Sandelman Software Works
Rahul Arvind Jadhav
Huawei Tech
Pascal Thubert
Cisco Systems
Huimin She
Cisco Systems