A Middlebox-Cooperative TCP for a Non End-to-End Internet

TitleA Middlebox-Cooperative TCP for a Non End-to-End Internet
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsCraven, R., Beverly R., & Allman M.
Other Numbers3669

Understanding, measuring, and debugging IP networks, particularly across administrative domains, is challenging. One particularly daunting aspect of the challenge is the presence of transparent middleboxes---which are now common in today's Internet. In-path middleboxes that modify packet headers are typically transparent to a TCP, yet can impact end-to-end performance or cause blackholes. We develop TCP HICCUPS to reveal packet header manipulation to both endpoints of a TCP connection. HICCUPS permits endpoints to cooperate with currently opaque middleboxes without prior knowledge of their behavior. For example, with visibility into end-to-end behavior, a TCP can selectively enable or disable performance enhancing options. This cooperation enables protocol innovation by allowing new IP or TCP functionality (e.g., ECN, SACK, Multipath TCP, Tcpcrypt) to be deployed without fear of such functionality being misconstrued, modified, or blocked along a path. HICCUPS is incrementally deployable and introduces no new options. We implement and deploy TCP HICCUPS across thousands of disparate Internet paths, highlighting the breadth and scope of subtle and hard to detect middlebox behaviors encountered. We then show how path diagnostic capabilities provided by HICCUPS can benefit applications and the network.


This work was partially supported by funding provided through National Science Foundation grant CNS-1213155, CNS-1213157, and CNS-1237265, and SPAWAR Systems Center Atlantic NISE. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors or originators and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Bibliographic Notes

Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the ACM Special Interest Group on Data Communication (SIGCOMM 2013), Chicago, Illinois

Abbreviated Authors

R. Craven, R. Beverly, and M. Allman

ICSI Research Group

Networking and Security

ICSI Publication Type

Article in conference proceedings