RFC 8781 Discovering PREF64 in Router Advertisements April 2020
Colitti & Linkova Standards Track [Page]
Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
Standards Track
L. Colitti
J. Linkova

RFC 8781

Discovering PREF64 in Router Advertisements


This document specifies a Neighbor Discovery option to be used in Router Advertisements (RAs) to communicate prefixes of Network Address and Protocol Translation from IPv6 clients to IPv4 servers (NAT64) to hosts.

Status of This Memo

This is an Internet Standards Track document.

This document is a product of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). It represents the consensus of the IETF community. It has received public review and has been approved for publication by the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG). Further information on Internet Standards is available in Section 2 of RFC 7841.

Information about the current status of this document, any errata, and how to provide feedback on it may be obtained at https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8781.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

NAT64 [RFC6146] with DNS Extensions for Network Address Translation from IPv6 clients to IPv4 servers (DNS64) [RFC6147] is a widely deployed mechanism to provide IPv4 access on IPv6-only networks. In various scenarios, the host must be aware of the NAT64 prefix in use by the network. This document specifies a Neighbor Discovery [RFC4861] option to be used in Router Advertisements (RAs) to communicate NAT64 prefixes to hosts.

1.1. Requirements Language

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.

1.2. Terminology

PREF64 (or NAT64 prefix):
An IPv6 prefix used for IPv6 address synthesis [RFC6146];
Network Address and Protocol Translation from IPv6 clients to IPv4 servers [RFC6146];
Router Advertisement (RA):
A message used by IPv6 routers to advertise their presence together with various link and Internet parameters [RFC4861];

DNS64: a mechanism for synthesizing AAAA records from A records [RFC6147];

2. Use Cases for Communicating the NAT64 Prefix to Hosts

On networks employing NAT64, it is useful for hosts to know the NAT64 prefix for several reasons, including the following:

3. Why Include the NAT64 Prefix in Router Advertisements?

Fate sharing:
NAT64 requires routing to be configured. IPv6 routing configuration requires receiving an IPv6 RA [RFC4861]. Therefore, using RAs to provide hosts with the NAT64 prefix ensures that NAT64 reachability information shares the fate of the rest of the network configuration on the host.
Atomic configuration:
Including the NAT64 prefix in the RA minimizes the number of packets required to configure a host. Only one packet (an RA) is required to complete the network configuration. This speeds up the process of connecting to a network that supports NAT64/DNS64. It also simplifies host implementation by removing the possibility that the host can have an incomplete Layer 3 configuration (e.g., IPv6 addresses and prefixes, but no NAT64 prefix).
It is possible to change the NAT64 prefix at any time, because when it changes, it is possible to notify hosts by sending a new RA.
All IPv6 hosts and networks are required to support Neighbor Discovery [RFC4861] so just a minor extension to the existing implementation is required. Other options, such as [RFC7225], require implementing other protocols (e.g., Port Control Protocol (PCP) [RFC7225]), which could be considered an obstacle for deployment.

4. Option Format

 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      |    Length     |     Scaled Lifetime     | PLC |
|                                                               |
+                                                               +
|              Highest 96 bits of the Prefix                    |
+                                                               +
|                                                               |
Figure 1: NAT64 Prefix Option Format


8-bit identifier of the PREF64 option type (38)
8-bit unsigned integer. The length of the option (including the Type and Length fields) is in units of 8 octets. The sender MUST set the length to 2. The receiver MUST ignore the PREF64 option if the Length field value is not 2.
Scaled Lifetime:
13-bit unsigned integer. The maximum time in units of 8 seconds over which this NAT64 prefix MAY be used. See Section 4.1 for the Scaled Lifetime field processing rules.
PLC (Prefix Length Code):
3-bit unsigned integer. This field encodes the NAT64 Prefix Length defined in [RFC6052]. The PLC field values 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 indicate the NAT64 prefix length of 96, 64, 56, 48, 40, and 32 bits, respectively. The receiver MUST ignore the PREF64 option if the Prefix Length Code field is not set to one of those values.
Highest 96 bits of the Prefix:
96-bit unsigned integer. Contains bits 0 - 95 of the NAT64 prefix.

4.1. Scaled Lifetime Processing

It would be highly undesirable for the NAT64 prefix to have a lifetime shorter than the Router Lifetime, which is defined in Section 4.2 of [RFC4861] as a 16-bit unsigned integer. If the NAT64 prefix lifetime is not at least equal to the default Router Lifetime, it might lead to scenarios in which the NAT64 prefix lifetime expires before the arrival of the next unsolicited RA. Therefore, the Scaled Lifetime encodes the NAT64 prefix lifetime in units of 8 seconds. The receiver MUST multiply the Scaled Lifetime value by 8 (for example, by a logical left shift) to calculate the maximum time in seconds the prefix MAY be used. The maximum lifetime of the NAT64 prefix is thus 65528 seconds. To ensure that the NAT64 prefix does not expire before the default router, it is NOT RECOMMENDED to configure default Router Lifetimes greater than 65528 seconds when using this option. A lifetime of 0 indicates that the prefix SHOULD NOT be used anymore.

By default, the value of the Scaled Lifetime field SHOULD be set to the lesser of 3 x MaxRtrAdvInterval [RFC4861] divided by 8, or 8191.

Router vendors SHOULD allow administrators to specify nonzero lifetime values that are not divisible by 8. In such cases, the router SHOULD round the provided value up to the nearest integer that is divisible by 8 and smaller than 65536, then divide the result by 8 (or perform a logical right shift by 3) and set the Scaled Lifetime field to the resulting value. If a nonzero lifetime value that is to be divided by 8 (or subjected to a logical right shift by 3) is less than 8, then the Scaled Lifetime field SHOULD be set to 1. This last step ensures that lifetimes under 8 seconds are encoded as a nonzero Scaled Lifetime.

5. Usage Guidelines

This option specifies exactly one NAT64 prefix for all IPv4 destinations. If the network operator wants to route different parts of the IPv4 address space to different NAT64 devices, this can be accomplished by routing more specific subprefixes of the NAT64 prefix to those devices. For example, suppose an operator is using the [RFC1918] address space internally. That operator might want to route through NAT64 device A, and the rest of the IPv4 space through NAT64 device B. If the operator's NAT64 prefix is 2001:db8:a:b::/96, then the operator can route 2001:db8:a:b::a00:0/104 to NAT64 A and 2001:db8:a:b::/96 to NAT64 B.

This option may appear more than once in an RA (e.g., when gracefully renumbering the network from one NAT64 prefix to another). Host behavior with regard to synthesizing IPv6 addresses from IPv4 addresses SHOULD follow the recommendations given in Section 3 of [RFC7050], limited to the NAT64 prefixes that have a nonzero lifetime.

In a network (or a provisioning domain) that provides both IPv4 and NAT64, it may be desirable for certain IPv4 addresses not to be translated. An example might be private address ranges that are local to the network/provisioning domain and that should not be reached through the NAT64. This type of configuration cannot be conveyed to hosts using this option, or through other NAT64 prefix provisioning mechanisms such as [RFC7050] or [RFC7225]. This problem does not apply in IPv6-only networks: the host in an IPv6-only network does not have an IPv4 address and cannot reach any IPv4 destinations without the NAT64.

5.1. Handling Multiple NAT64 Prefixes

In some cases, a host may receive multiple NAT64 prefixes from different sources. Possible scenarios include (but are not limited to):

  • the host is using multiple mechanisms to discover PREF64 prefixes (e.g., by using PCP [RFC7225]) and/or resolving an IPv4-only fully qualified domain name [RFC7050] in addition to receiving the PREF64 RA option);
  • the PREF64 option presents in a single RA more than once;
  • the host receives multiple RAs with different PREF64 prefixes on a given interface.

When multiple PREF64s are discovered via the RA PREF64 Option (either the Option presents more than once in a single RA or multiple RAs are received), host behavior with regard to synthesizing IPv6 addresses from IPv4 addresses SHOULD follow the recommendations given in Section 3 of [RFC7050], limited to the NAT64 prefixes that have a nonzero lifetime.

When different PREF64s are discovered using multiple mechanisms, hosts SHOULD select one source of information only. The RECOMMENDED order is:

  • PCP-discovered prefixes [RFC7225], if supported;
  • PREF64s discovered via the RA Option;
  • PREF64s resolving an IPv4-only fully qualified domain name [RFC7050]

Note: If the network provides PREF64s via both this RA Option and [RFC7225], hosts that receive the PREF64 via the RA Option may choose to use it immediately (before waiting for the PCP to complete); therefore, some traffic may not reflect any more detailed configuration provided by the PCP.

The host SHOULD treat the PREF64 as being specific to the network interface it was received on. Hosts that are aware of Provisioning Domain (PvD, [RFC7556]) MUST treat the PREF64 as being scoped to the implicit or explicit PvD.

5.2. PREF64 Consistency

Section 6.2.7 of [RFC4861] recommends that routers inspect RAs sent by other routers to ensure that all routers onlink advertise consistent information. Routers SHOULD inspect valid PREF64 options received on a given link and verify the consistency. Detected inconsistencies indicate that one or more routers might be misconfigured. Routers SHOULD log such cases to system or network management. Routers SHOULD check and compare the following information:

  • set of PREF64s with a nonzero lifetime;
  • set of PREF64s with a zero lifetime.

Routers that are aware of PvD ([RFC7556]) MUST only compare information scoped to the same implicit or explicit PvD.

6. IANA Considerations

IANA has assigned a new IPv6 Neighbor Discovery Option type for the PREF64 option defined in this document in the "IPv6 Neighbor Discovery Option Formats" registry [IANA].

Table 1: New IANA Registry Assignment
Description Type
PREF64 option 38

7. Security Considerations

Because RAs are required in all IPv6 configuration scenarios, on IPv6-only networks, RAs must already be secured -- e.g., by deploying an RA-Guard [RFC6105]. Providing all configuration in RAs reduces the attack surface to be targeted by malicious attackers trying to provide hosts with invalid configuration, as compared to distributing the configuration through multiple different mechanisms that need to be secured independently.

If a host is provided with an incorrect NAT64 prefix, the IPv6-only host might not be able to communicate with IPv4-only destinations. Connectivity to destinations reachable over IPv6 would not be impacted just by providing a host with an incorrect prefix; however, if attackers are capable of sending rogue RAs, they can perform denial-of-service or man-in-the-middle attacks, as described in [RFC6104].

The security measures that must already be in place to ensure that RAs are only received from legitimate sources eliminate the problem of NAT64 prefix validation described in Section 3.1 of [RFC7050].

8. References

8.1. Normative References

IANA, "Internet Control Message Protocol version 6 (ICMPv6) Parameters", <https://www.iana.org/assignments/icmpv6-parameters>.
Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, , <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc2119>.
Narten, T., Nordmark, E., Simpson, W., and H. Soliman, "Neighbor Discovery for IP version 6 (IPv6)", RFC 4861, DOI 10.17487/RFC4861, , <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc4861>.
Bao, C., Huitema, C., Bagnulo, M., Boucadair, M., and X. Li, "IPv6 Addressing of IPv4/IPv6 Translators", RFC 6052, DOI 10.17487/RFC6052, , <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc6052>.
Savolainen, T., Korhonen, J., and D. Wing, "Discovery of the IPv6 Prefix Used for IPv6 Address Synthesis", RFC 7050, DOI 10.17487/RFC7050, , <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc7050>.
Leiba, B., "Ambiguity of Uppercase vs Lowercase in RFC 2119 Key Words", BCP 14, RFC 8174, DOI 10.17487/RFC8174, , <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8174>.

8.2. Informative References

Rekhter, Y., Moskowitz, B., Karrenberg, D., de Groot, G. J., and E. Lear, "Address Allocation for Private Internets", BCP 5, RFC 1918, DOI 10.17487/RFC1918, , <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc1918>.
Chown, T. and S. Venaas, "Rogue IPv6 Router Advertisement Problem Statement", RFC 6104, DOI 10.17487/RFC6104, , <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc6104>.
Levy-Abegnoli, E., Van de Velde, G., Popoviciu, C., and J. Mohacsi, "IPv6 Router Advertisement Guard", RFC 6105, DOI 10.17487/RFC6105, , <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc6105>.
Bagnulo, M., Matthews, P., and I. van Beijnum, "Stateful NAT64: Network Address and Protocol Translation from IPv6 Clients to IPv4 Servers", RFC 6146, DOI 10.17487/RFC6146, , <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc6146>.
Bagnulo, M., Sullivan, A., Matthews, P., and I. van Beijnum, "DNS64: DNS Extensions for Network Address Translation from IPv6 Clients to IPv4 Servers", RFC 6147, DOI 10.17487/RFC6147, , <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc6147>.
Mawatari, M., Kawashima, M., and C. Byrne, "464XLAT: Combination of Stateful and Stateless Translation", RFC 6877, DOI 10.17487/RFC6877, , <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc6877>.
Boucadair, M., "Discovering NAT64 IPv6 Prefixes Using the Port Control Protocol (PCP)", RFC 7225, DOI 10.17487/RFC7225, , <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc7225>.
Anipko, D., Ed., "Multiple Provisioning Domain Architecture", RFC 7556, DOI 10.17487/RFC7556, , <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc7556>.
Hu, Z., Zhu, L., Heidemann, J., Mankin, A., Wessels, D., and P. Hoffman, "Specification for DNS over Transport Layer Security (TLS)", RFC 7858, DOI 10.17487/RFC7858, , <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc7858>.
Schinazi, D. and T. Pauly, "Happy Eyeballs Version 2: Better Connectivity Using Concurrency", RFC 8305, DOI 10.17487/RFC8305, , <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8305>.
Hoffman, P. and P. McManus, "DNS Queries over HTTPS (DoH)", RFC 8484, DOI 10.17487/RFC8484, , <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8484>.


Thanks to the following people (in alphabetical order) for their review and feedback: Mikael Abrahamsson, Mark Andrews, Brian E Carpenter, David Farmer, Nick Heatley, Robert Hinden, Martin Hunek, Tatuya Jinmei, Benjamin Kaduk, Erik Kline, Suresh Krishnan, Warren Kumari, David Lamparter, Barry Leiba, Jordi Palet Martinez, Tommy Pauly, Alexandre Petrescu, Michael Richardson, David Schinazi, Ole Troan, Eric Vynke, Bernie Volz.

Authors' Addresses

Lorenzo Colitti
Shibuya 3-21-3, Tokyo
Jen Linkova
1 Darling Island Rd
Pyrmont NSW 2009