Mobile Internet Protocol (IP) enables the transfer of information between mobile computers. Mobile computers include laptops and wireless communications. The mobile computer can change its location to a foreign network. At the foreign network, the mobile computer can still communicate through the home network of the mobile computer. The Solaris implementation of Mobile IP supports only IPv4.
This chapter contains the following information:
Current versions of the Internet Protocol (IP) assume that the point at which a computer attaches to the Internet or a network is fixed. IP also assumes that the IP address of the computer identifies the network to which the computer is attached. Datagrams that are sent to a computer are based on the location information that is contained in the IP address. Many Internet Protocols that are in use require that a node's IP address remain unchanged. If any of these applications are active on a Mobile IP computing device, the applications fail. Even HTTP would fail if not for the short-lived nature of its TCP connections. Updating an IP address and refreshing the Web page is not a burden.
If a mobile computer, or mobile node, moves to a new network while its IP address is unchanged, the mobile node address does not reflect the new point of attachment. Consequently, routing protocols that exist cannot route datagrams to the mobile node correctly. You must reconfigure the mobile node with a different IP address that represents the new location. Assigning a different IP address is cumbersome. Thus, under the current Internet Protocol, if the mobile node moves without changing its address, it loses routing. If the mobile node does change its address, it loses connections.
Mobile IP solves this problem by allowing the mobile node to use two IP addresses. The first address is a fixed home address. The second address is a care-of address that changes at each new point of attachment. Mobile IP enables a computer to roam freely on the Internet. Mobile IP also enables a computer to roam freely on an organization's network while still maintaining the same home address. Consequently, communication activities are not disrupted when the user changes the computer's point of attachment. Instead, the network is updated with the new location of the mobile node. See the Glossary for definitions of terms that are associated with Mobile IP.
If the mobile node is on a foreign network, the home agent forwards the datagram to the foreign agent. The home agent must encapsulate the datagram in an IP-in-IP manner so that the foreign agent's IP address appears in the outer IP header.
The foreign agent delivers the datagram to the mobile node.
Datagrams from the mobile node to the Internet host are sent by using normal IP routing procedures. If the mobile node is on a foreign network, the packets are delivered to the foreign agent. The foreign agent forwards the datagram to the Internet host.
In situations with ingress filtering present, the source address must be topologically correct for the subnet that the datagram is coming from, or a router cannot forward the datagram. If this scenario is the situation on links between the mobile node and the correspondent node, the foreign agent needs to provide reverse tunneling support. Then the foreign agent can deliver every datagram that the mobile node sends to its home agent. The home agent then forwards the datagram through the path that the datagram would have taken had the mobile node resided on the home network. This process guarantees that the source address is correct for all links that the datagram must traverse.
In the instance of wireless communications, the illustrations depict the use of wireless transceivers to transmit the datagrams to the mobile node. Also, all datagrams between the Internet host and the mobile node use the home address of the mobile node. The home address is used even when the mobile node is located on the foreign network. The care-of address is used only for communication with mobility agents. The care-of address is invisible to the Internet host.
Mobile IP introduces the following new functional entities:
Home Agent (HA) – Router or server on the home network of a mobile node. The router intercepts datagrams that are destined for the mobile node. The router then delivers the datagrams through the care-of address. The home agent also maintains current information on the location of the mobile node.
Foreign Agent (FA) – Router or server on the foreign network that the mobile node visits. Provides host routing services to the mobile node. The foreign agent might also provide a care-of address to the mobile node while the mobile node is registered.
Mobile IP enables routing of IP datagrams to mobile nodes. The home address of the mobile node always identifies the mobile node regardless of where the mobile node is attached. When away from home, a care-of address is associated with the mobile node's home address. The care-of address provides information about the current point of attachment of the mobile node. Mobile IP uses a registration mechanism to register the care-of address with a home agent.
The home agent redirects datagrams from the home network to the care-of address. The home agent constructs a new IP header that contains the care-of address of the mobile node as the destination IP address. This new header encapsulates the original IP datagram. Consequently, the home address of the mobile node has no effect on the routing of the encapsulated datagram until the datagram arrives at the care-of address. This type of encapsulation is also called tunneling. After the datagram arrives at the care-of address, the datagram is de-encapsulated. Then the datagram is delivered to the mobile node.
The following illustration shows a mobile node that resides on its home network, Network A, before the mobile node moves to a foreign network, Network B. Both networks support Mobile IP. The mobile node is always associated with the home address of the mobile node, 126.96.36.199.
The following illustration shows a mobile node that has moved to a foreign network, Network B. Datagrams that are destined for the mobile node are intercepted by the home agent on the home network, Network A. The datagrams are encapsulated. Then the datagrams are sent to the foreign agent on Network B. The foreign agent strips off the outer header. Then the foreign agent delivers the datagram to the mobile node that is located on Network B.
The care-of address might belong to a foreign agent. The care-of address might be acquired by the mobile node through Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) or Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP). In the latter situation, a mobile node has a co-located care-of address.
Mobility agents (home agents and foreign agents) advertise their presence by using agent advertisement messages. Optionally, a mobile node can solicit an agent advertisement message. The mobile node uses any mobility agent that is attached locally through an agent solicitation message. A mobile node uses the agent advertisements to determine whether the mobile node is on the home network or a foreign network.
The mobile node uses a special registration process to inform the home agent about the current location of the mobile node. The mobile node is always “listening” for mobility agents advertising their presence. The mobile node uses these advertisements to help determine when the mobile node moves to another subnet. When a mobile node determines that the mobile node has moved its location, the mobile node uses the new foreign agent to forward a registration message to the home agent. The mobile node uses the same process when the mobile node moves from one foreign network to another foreign network.
When the mobile node detects that it is located on the home network, the mobile node does not use mobility services. When the mobile node returns to the home network, the mobile node deregisters with the home agent.
A mobile node uses a method that is known as agent discovery to determine the following information:
When the node has moved from one network to another
Whether the network is the home network or a foreign network
The foreign agent care-of address that is offered by each foreign agent on that network
Mobility services that are provided by the mobility agent, advertised as flags, and additional extensions in the agent advertisement
Mobility agents transmit agent advertisements to advertise services on a network. In the absence of agent advertisements, a mobile node can solicit advertisements. This capability is known as agent solicitation. If a mobile node is capable of supporting its own co-located care-of address, the mobile node can use regular router advertisements for the same purposes. See the next section.
Mobile nodes use agent advertisements to determine the current point of attachment to the Internet or to an organization's network. An agent advertisement is an Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) router advertisement that has been extended to carry also a mobility agent advertisement extension.
A foreign agent (FA) can be too busy to serve additional mobile nodes. However, a foreign agent must continue to send agent advertisements. Then the mobile node, which is already registered with a foreign agent, knows that the mobile node has not moved out of range of the foreign agent. The mobile node also knows that the foreign agent has not failed. A mobile node that is registered with a foreign agent from which it no longer receives agent advertisements, probably knows that the mobile node can no longer contact that foreign agent.
You can configure the implementation of the foreign agent to send advertisements over dynamically created interfaces. You have options to enable or disable limited unsolicited advertisements over the advertising interfaces. Dynamically created interfaces are defined as only those interfaces that are configured after the mipagent starts. Advertisement over dynamic interfaces is useful for applications that are to support transient mobility interfaces. Moreover, by limiting unsolicited advertisement, network bandwidth might be saved.
Every mobile node should implement agent solicitation. The mobile node uses the same procedures, defaults, and constants for agent solicitation that are specified for solicitation messages of ICMP routers.
The rate that a mobile node sends solicitations is limited by the mobile node. The mobile node can send three initial solicitations at a maximum rate of one per second while the mobile node searches for an agent. After the mobile node registers with an agent, the rate that solicitations are sent is reduced to limit the overhead on the local network.
Mobile IP provides the following alternative modes for the acquisition of a care-of address:
A foreign agent provides a foreign agent care-of address, which is advertised to the mobile node through agent advertisement messages. The care-of address is usually the IP address of the foreign agent that sends the advertisements. The foreign agent is the endpoint of the tunnel. When the foreign agent receives datagrams through a tunnel, the foreign agent de-encapsulates the datagrams. Then the foreign agent delivers the inner datagram to the mobile node. Consequently, many mobile nodes can share the same care-of address. Bandwidth is important on wireless links. Wireless links are good candidates from which foreign agents can provide Mobile IP services to higher-bandwidth wired links.
A mobile node acquires a co-located care-of address as a local IP address through some external means. The mobile node then associates with one of its own network interfaces. The mobile node might acquire the address through DHCP as a temporary address. The address might also be owned by the mobile node as a long-term address. However, the mobile node can only use the address while visiting the subnet to which this care-of address belongs. When using a co-located care-of address, the mobile node serves as the endpoint of the tunnel. The mobile node performs de-encapsulation of the datagrams that are tunneled to the mobile node.
A Co-located care-of address enables a mobile node to function without a foreign agent. Consequently, a mobile node can use a co-located care-of address in networks that have not deployed a foreign agent.
If a mobile node is using a co-located care-of address, the mobile node must be located on the link that is identified by the network prefix of the care-of address. Otherwise, datagrams that are destined to the care-of address cannot be delivered.
The previous description of Mobile IP assumes that the routing within the Internet is independent of the source address of the datagram. However, intermediate routers might check for a topologically correct source address. If an intermediate router does check, the mobile node needs to set up a reverse tunnel. By setting up a reverse tunnel from the care-of address to the home agent, you ensure a topologically correct source address for the IP data packet. Reverse tunnel support is advertised by foreign agents and home agents. A mobile node can request a reverse tunnel between the foreign agent and the home agent when the mobile node registers. A reverse tunnel is a tunnel that starts at the care-of address of the mobile node and terminates at the home agent. The following illustration shows the Mobile IP topology that uses a reverse tunnel.
Mobile nodes that have private addresses that are not globally routable through the Internet require reverse tunnels. Solaris Mobile IP supports mobile nodes that are privately addressed. See Overview of the Solaris Mobile IP Implementation for the functions that Solaris Mobile IP does not support.
Enterprises employ private addresses when external connectivity is not required. Private addresses are not routable through the Internet. When a mobile node has a private address, the mobile node can only communicate with a correspondent node by having its datagrams reverse-tunneled to its home agent. The home agent then delivers the datagram to the correspondent node in whatever manner the datagram is normally delivered when the mobile node is at home. The following illustration shows a network topology with two mobile nodes that are privately addressed. The two mobile nodes use the same care-of address when registered to the same foreign agent.
The care-of address and the home agent address must be globally routable addresses if these addresses belong to different domains that are connected by a public Internet.
The same foreign network can include two mobile nodes that are privately addressed with the same IP address. However, each mobile node must have a different home agent. Also, each mobile node must be on different advertising subnets of a single foreign agent. The following illustration shows a network topology that depicts this situation.
Mobile nodes detect when they have moved from one subnet to another through the use of agent advertisements. When the mobile node receives an agent advertisement that indicates that the mobile node has changed locations, the mobile node registers through a foreign agent. Even though the mobile node might have acquired its own co-located care-of address, this feature is provided to enable sites to restrict access to mobility services.
Mobile IP registration provides a flexible mechanism for mobile nodes to communicate the current reachability information to the home agent. The registration process enables mobile nodes to perform the following tasks:
Inform the home agent of the current care-of address
Renew a registration that is about to expire
Request a reverse tunnel
Registration messages exchange information between a mobile node, a foreign agent, and the home agent. Registration creates or modifies a mobility binding at the home agent. Registration associates the home address of the mobile node with the care-of address of the mobile node for the specified lifetime.
The registration process also enables mobile nodes to do the following functions:
Deregister specific care-of addresses while retaining other mobility bindings
Mobile IP defines the following registration processes for a mobile node:
If a mobile node receives an agent advertisement that requires the mobile node to register through a foreign agent, the mobile node can still attempt to obtain a co-located care-of address. The mobile node can also register with that foreign agent or any other foreign agent on that link.
If a mobile node uses a co-located care-of address, the mobile node registers directly with the home agent.
These registration processes involve the exchange of registration requests and registration reply messages. When the mobile node registers by using a foreign agent, the registration process takes the following steps, which the subsequent illustration shows:
The mobile node sends a registration request to the prospective foreign agent to begin the registration process.
The foreign agent processes the registration request and then relays the request to the home agent.
The home agent sends a registration reply to the foreign agent to grant or deny the request.
The foreign agent processes the registration reply and then relays the reply to the mobile node to inform the mobile node of the disposition of the request.
When the mobile node registers directly with the home agent, the registration process requires only the following steps:
Also, either the foreign agent or the home agent might require a reverse tunnel. If the foreign agent supports reverse tunneling, the mobile node uses the registration process to request a reverse tunnel. The mobile node sets the reverse tunnel flag in the registration request to request a reverse tunnel.
AAA servers, in use within the Internet, provide authentication and authorization services for dial-up computers. These services are likely to be equally valuable for mobile nodes that use Mobile IP when the nodes attempt to connect to foreign domains with AAA servers. AAA servers use Network Access Identifier (NAI) to identify clients. A mobile node can identify itself by including the NAI in the Mobile IP registration request.
Because the NAI is typically used to identify the mobile node uniquely, the home address of the mobile node is not always necessary to provide that function. Thus, a mobile node can authenticate itself. Consequently, a mobile node can be authorized for connection to the foreign domain without even having a home address. To request that a home address be assigned, a message that contains the mobile node NAI extension can set the home address field to zero in the registration request.
Each mobile node, foreign agent, and home agent supports a mobility security association between the various Mobile IP components. The security association is indexed by the security parameter index (SPI) and IP address. In the instance of the mobile node, this address is the home address of the mobile node. Registration messages between a mobile node and the home agent are authenticated with the Mobile-home authentication extension. In addition to Mobile-home authentication, which is mandatory, you can use the optional Mobile-foreign agent and Home-foreign agent authentications.
A mobile node uses a registration request message to register with the home agent. Thus, the home agent can create or modify a mobility binding for that mobile node (for example, with a new lifetime). The foreign agent can relay the registration request to the home agent. However, if the mobile node is registering a co-located care-of address, then the mobile node can send the registration request directly to the home agent. If the foreign agent advertises that registration messages must be sent to the foreign agent, then the mobile node must send the registration request to the foreign agent.
A mobility agent returns a registration reply message to a mobile node that has sent a registration request message. If the mobile node requests service from a foreign agent, that foreign agent receives the reply from the home agent. Subsequently, the foreign agent relays the reply to the mobile node. The reply message contains the necessary codes to inform the mobile node and the foreign agent about the status of the registration request. The message also contains the lifetime that is granted by the home agent. The lifetime can be smaller than the original request. The registration reply can also contain a dynamic home address assignment.
The foreign agent plays a mostly passive role in Mobile IP registration. The foreign agent adds all mobile nodes that are registered to the visitor table. The foreign agent relays registration requests between mobile nodes and home agents. Also, when the foreign agent provides the care-of address, the foreign agent de-encapsulates datagrams for delivery to the mobile node. The foreign agent also sends periodic agent advertisement messages to advertise the presence of the foreign agent.
If home and foreign agents support reverse tunnels, and the mobile node requests a reverse tunnel, the foreign agent then tunnels all the packets from the mobile node to the home agent. The home agent then sends the packets to the correspondent node. This process is the reverse of the home agent tunneling all of the mobile node's packets to the foreign agent for delivery to the mobile node. A foreign agent that supports reverse tunnels advertises that the reverse tunnel is supported for registration. Because of the local policy, the foreign agent can deny a registration request when the reverse tunnel flag is not set. The foreign agent can only distinguish multiple mobile nodes with the same (private) IP address when these mobile nodes are visiting different interfaces on the foreign agent. In the forward tunnel situation, the foreign agent distinguishes between multiple mobile nodes that share the same private addresses by looking at the incoming tunnel interface. The incoming tunnel interface maps to a unique home agent address.
Home agents play an active role in the registration process. The home agent receives registration requests from the mobile node. The registration request might be relayed by the foreign agent. The home agent updates its record of the mobility bindings for this mobile node. The home agent issues a suitable registration reply in response to each registration request. The home agent also forwards packets to the mobile node when the mobile node is away from the home network.
A home agent might not have to have a physical subnet configured for mobile nodes. However, the home agent must recognize the home address of the mobile node through the mipagent.conf file or some other mechanism when the home agent grants registration.
A home agent can support private addressed mobile nodes by configuring the private addressed mobile nodes in the mipagent.conf file. The home addresses that are used by the home agent must be unique.
In some situations, the mobile node might not know the home agent address when the mobile node attempts to register. If the mobile node does not know the home agent address, the mobile node can use dynamic home agent address resolution to learn the address. In this situation, the mobile node sets the home agent field of the registration request to the subnet-directed broadcast address of its home network. Each home agent that receives a registration request with a broadcast destination address rejects the mobile node's registration by returning a rejection registration reply. By doing so, the mobile node can use the home agent's unicast IP address that is indicated in the rejection reply when the mobile node next attempts registration.
This section describes how mobile nodes, home agents, and foreign agents cooperate to route datagrams for mobile nodes that are connected to a foreign network. See Overview of the Solaris Mobile IP Implementation for Mobile IP functions that are supported in the Solaris operating environment.
Home agents and foreign agents use one of the available encapsulation methods to support datagrams that use a tunnel. Defined encapsulation methods are IP-in-IP Encapsulation, Minimal Encapsulation, and Generic Routing Encapsulation. Foreign and home agent, or indirect co-located mobile node and home agent cases, must support the same encapsulation method. All Mobile IP entities are required to support IP-in-IP Encapsulation.
If the mobile node is registered and uses a foreign agent care-of address, the process is straight forward. The mobile node chooses its default router from among the router addresses that are advertised in the ICMP router advertisement portion of that agent advertisement. The mobile node can also consider the IP source address of the agent advertisement as another possible choice for the IP address of a default router.
The mobile node might be registered directly with the home agent by using a co-located care-of address. Then the mobile node chooses its default router from among those routers that are advertised in any ICMP router advertisement message that it receives. The network prefix of the chosen default router must match the network prefix of the care-of address of the mobile node that is externally obtained. The address might match the IP source address of the agent advertisement under the network prefix. Then the mobile node can also consider that IP source address as another possible choice for the IP address of a default router.
If the mobile node is registered, a foreign agent that supports reverse tunnels routes unicast datagrams from the mobile node to the home agent through the reverse tunnel. If the mobile node is registered with a foreign agent that provides reverse tunnel support, the mobile node must use that foreign agent as its default router.
When a home agent receives a broadcast or multicast datagram, the home agent only forwards the datagram to mobile nodes that have specifically requested that they receive them. How the home agent forwards broadcast and multicast datagrams to mobile nodes depends primarily on two factors. Either that mobile node is using a foreign-agent provided care-of address, or the mobile node is using its own co-located care-of address. The former means that the datagram must be double encapsulated. The first IP header identifies the mobile node for which the datagram is to be delivered. Remember, this first IP header is not present in the broadcast or multicast datagram. The second IP header identifies the care-of address, and is the usual tunnel header. In the latter instance, the mobile node is de-capsulating its own datagrams, and the datagram needs only to be sent through the regular tunnel.
To begin receiving multicast traffic when a mobile node is visiting a foreign subnet, a mobile node can join a multicast group in any of the following ways:
If the mobile node is using a co-located care-of address, the mobile node can use this address as the source IP address of any Internet Group Management Protocol (IGMP) join messages. However, a multicast router must be present on the visited subnet.
If the mobile node wants to join the ICMP group from its home subnet, the mobile node must use a reverse tunnel to send IGMP join messages to the home agent. However, the mobile node's home agent must be a multicast router. The home agent then forwards multicast datagrams through the tunnel to the mobile node.
If the mobile node is using a co-located care-of address, the mobile node can use this address as the source IP address of any IGMP join messages. However, a multicast router must be present on the visited subnet. Once the mobile node has joined, the mobile node can participate by sending its own multicast packets directly on the visited network.
Send directly on the visited network.
Send through a tunnel to the home agent.
Multicast routing depends on the IP source address. A mobile node that is sending a multicast datagram must send the datagram from a valid source address on that link. This means a mobile node that is sending multicast datagrams directly on the visited network must use a co-located care-of address as the IP source address. Also, the mobile node must have joined the multicast group that is associated with the address. Similarly, a mobile node that joined a multicast group while on its home subnet before roaming, or joined the multicast group while roaming through a reverse tunnel to its home agent, must use its home address as the IP source address of the multicast datagram. Thus, the mobile node must have these datagrams reverse-tunneled to its home subnet as well, either through itself by using its co-located care-of address, or through a foreign agent reverse tunnel.
While it seems more efficient for a mobile node to always join from the subnet that the mobile node is visiting, it is still a mobile node. Consequently, the mobile node would have to repeat the join every time the mobile node switches subnets. The more efficient way is for the mobile node to join through its home agent, and not have to carry this overhead. Also, multicast sessions might be present that are only available from the home subnet. Other considerations might also force the mobile node to participate in a specific way.
In many situations, mobile computers use wireless links to connect to the network. Wireless links are particularly vulnerable to passive eavesdropping, active replay attacks, and other active attacks.
Because Mobile IP recognizes its inability to reduce or eliminate this vulnerability, Mobile IP uses a form of authentication to protect Mobile IP registration messages from these types of attack. The default algorithm that is used is MD5, with a key size of 128 bits. The default operational mode requires that this 128–bit key precede and succeed the data to be hashed. The foreign agent uses MD5 to support authentication. The foreign agent also uses key sizes of 128 bits or greater, with manual key distribution. Mobile IP can support more authentication algorithms, algorithm modes, key distribution methods, and key sizes.
These methods do prevent Mobile IP registration messages from being altered. However, Mobile IP also uses a form of replay protection to alert Mobile IP entities when they receive duplicates of previous Mobile IP registration messages. If this protection method were not used, the mobile node and its home agent might become unsynchronized when either one receives a registration message. Hence, Mobile IP updates its state. For example, a home agent receives a duplicate deregistration message while the mobile node is registered through a foreign agent. Replay protection is ensured either by a method known as nonces, or timestamps. Nonces and timestamps are exchanged by home agents and mobile nodes within the Mobile IP registration messages. Nonces and timestamps are protected from change by the authentication mechanism described previously. Consequently, if a home agent or mobile node sees a duplicate message, the duplicate message can be thrown away.
The use of tunnels can be a significant vulnerability, especially if registration is not authenticated. Also, the Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) is not authenticated, and can potentially be used to steal another host's traffic.
In general, as home and foreign agents are fixed entities, they can use IPsec authentication or encryption to protect both Mobile IP registration messages and forward and reverse tunnel traffic. This process works completely independently of Mobile IP, and only depends on the workstation's ability to perform IPsec functions. Mobile nodes can also use IPsec authentication to protect their registration traffic. If the mobile node registers through a foreign agent, in general the mobile node cannot use IPsec encryption. The reason that the mobile node cannot use IPsec encryption is because the foreign agent must be able to check the information in the registration packet. While IPsec encryption could be used when a foreign agent is not needed, the issue of co-location makes this difficult to achieve. IPsec is an IP-level security relationship. Consequently, a home agent would have to know the mobile node's co-located address without prior information or registration messages. Several protocols can obviate the need for this information, but are beyond the scope of this document. For more information about IPsec, see Chapter 19, IPsec (Overview) or Chapter 20, Administering IPsec (Task).