This page was last updated in September 2016 and is accurate for router version 0.9.26.

Overview

This document specifies the format of tunnel messages. For general information about tunnels see the tunnel documentation [TUNNEL-IMPL].

Message preprocessing

A tunnel gateway is the entrance, or first hop, of a tunnel. For an outbound tunnel, the gateway is the creator of the tunnel. For an inbound tunnel, the gateway is at the opposite end from the creator of the tunnel.

A gateway preprocesses [I2NP] messages by fragmenting and combining them into tunnel messages.

While I2NP messages are variable size from 0 to almost 64 KB, tunnel messages are fixed-size, approximately 1 KB. Fixed message size restricts several types of attacks that are possible from observing message size.

After the tunnel messages are created, they are encrypted as described in the tunnel documentation [TUNNEL-IMPL].

Tunnel Message (Encrypted)

These are the contents of a tunnel data message after encryption.

+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+
|    Tunnel ID      |       IV          |
+----+----+----+----+                   +
|                                       |
+                   +----+----+----+----+
|                   |                   |
+----+----+----+----+                   +
|                                       |
+           Encrypted Data              +
~                                       ~
|                                       |
+                   +-------------------+
|                   |
+----+----+----+----+

Tunnel ID :: TunnelId
       4 bytes
       the ID of the next hop

IV ::
       16 bytes
       the initialization vector

Encrypted Data ::
       1008 bytes
       the encrypted tunnel message

total size: 1028 Bytes

Tunnel Message (Decrypted)

These are the contents of a tunnel data message when decrypted.

+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+
|    Tunnel ID      |       IV          |
+----+----+----+----+                   +
|                                       |
+                   +----+----+----+----+
|                   |     Checksum      |
+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+
|          nonzero padding...           |
~                                       ~
|                                       |
+                                  +----+
|                                  |zero|
+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+
|                                       |
|       Delivery Instructions  1        |
~                                       ~
|                                       |
+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+
|                                       |
+       I2NP Message Fragment 1         +
|                                       |
~                                       ~
|                                       |
+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+
|                                       |
|       Delivery Instructions 2...      |
~                                       ~
|                                       |
+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+
|                                       |
+       I2NP Message Fragment 2...      +
|                                       |
~                                       ~
|                                       |
+                   +-------------------+
|                   |
+----+----+----+----+

Tunnel ID :: TunnelId
       4 bytes
       the ID of the next hop

IV ::
       16 bytes
       the initialization vector

Checksum ::
       4 bytes
       the first 4 bytes of the SHA256 hash of (the contents of the message
       (after the zero byte) + IV)

Nonzero padding ::
       0 or more bytes
       random nonzero data for padding

Zero ::
       1 byte
       the value 0x00

Delivery Instructions :: TunnelMessageDeliveryInstructions
       length varies but is typically 7, 39, 43, or 47 bytes
       Indicates the fragment and the routing for the fragment

Message Fragment ::
       1 to 996 bytes, actual maximum depends on delivery instruction size
       A partial or full I2NP Message

total size: 1028 Bytes

Notes

  • The padding, if any, must be before the instruction/message pairs. There is no provision for padding at the end.
  • The checksum does NOT cover the padding or the zero byte. Take the message starting at the first delivery instructions, concatenate the IV, and take the Hash of that.

Tunnel Message Delivery Instructions

The instructions are encoded with a single control byte, followed by any necessary additional information. The first bit (MSB) in that control byte determines how the remainder of the header is interpreted - if it is not set, the message is either not fragmented or this is the first fragment in the message. If it is set, this is a follow on fragment.

This specification is for Delivery Instructions inside Tunnel Messages only. Note that "Delivery Instructions" are also used inside Garlic Cloves [I2NP-GC], where the format is significantly different. See the I2NP documentation [I2NP-GCDI] for details. Do NOT use the following specification for Garlic Clove Delivery Instructions!

First Fragment Delivery Instructions

If the MSB of the first byte is 0, this is an initial I2NP message fragment, or a complete (unfragmented) I2NP message, and the instructions are:

+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+
|flag|  Tunnel ID (opt)  |              |
+----+----+----+----+----+              +
|                                       |
+                                       +
|         To Hash (optional)            |
+                                       +
|                                       |
+                        +--------------+
|                        |dly | Message
+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+
 ID (opt) |extended opts (opt)|  size   |
+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+

flag ::
       1 byte
       Bit order: 76543210
       bit 7: 0 to specify an initial fragment or an unfragmented message
       bits 6-5: delivery type
                 0x0 = LOCAL
                 0x01 = TUNNEL
                 0x02 = ROUTER
                 0x03 = unused, invalid
                 Note: LOCAL is used for inbound tunnels only, unimplemented
                 for outbound tunnels
       bit 4: delay included?  Unimplemented, always 0
                               If 1, a delay byte is included
       bit 3: fragmented?  If 0, the message is not fragmented, what follows
                           is the entire message
                           If 1, the message is fragmented, and the
                           instructions contain a Message ID
       bit 2: extended options?  Unimplemented, always 0
                                 If 1, extended options are included
       bits 1-0: reserved, set to 0 for compatibility with future uses

Tunnel ID :: TunnelId
       4 bytes
       Optional, present if delivery type is TUNNEL
       The destination tunnel ID

To Hash ::
       32 bytes
       Optional, present if delivery type is ROUTER or TUNNEL
          If ROUTER, the SHA256 Hash of the router
          If TUNNEL, the SHA256 Hash of the gateway router

Delay ::
       1 byte
       Optional, present if delay included flag is set
       In tunnel messages: Unimplemented, never present; original
       specification:
          bit 7: type (0 = strict, 1 = randomized)
          bits 6-0: delay exponent (2^value minutes)

Message ID ::
       4 bytes
       Optional, present if this message is the first of 2 or more fragments
          (i.e. if the fragmented bit is 1)
       An ID that uniquely identifies all fragments as belonging to a single
       message (the current implementation uses I2NPMessageHeader.msg_id)

Extended Options ::
       2 or more bytes
       Optional, present if extend options flag is set
       Unimplemented, never present; original specification:
       One byte length and then that many bytes

size ::
       2 bytes
       The length of the fragment that follows
       Valid values: 1 to approx. 960 in a tunnel message

Total length: Typical length is:
       3 bytes for LOCAL delivery (tunnel message);
       35 bytes for ROUTER delivery or 39 bytes for TUNNEL
       delivery (unfragmented tunnel message);
       39 bytes for ROUTER delivery or 43 bytes for TUNNEL delivery (first
       fragment)

Follow-on Fragment Delivery Instructions

If the MSB of the first byte is 1, this is a follow-on fragment, and the instructions are:

+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+
|frag|     Message ID    |  size   |
+----+----+----+----+----+----+----+

frag ::
       1 byte
       Bit order: 76543210
       binary 1nnnnnnd
              bit 7: 1 to indicate this is a follow-on fragment
              bits 6-1: nnnnnn is the 6 bit fragment number from 1 to 63
              bit 0: d is 1 to indicate the last fragment, 0 otherwise

Message ID ::
       4 bytes
       Identifies the fragment sequence that this fragment belongs to.
       This will match the message ID of an initial fragment (a fragment
       with flag bit 7 set to 0 and flag bit 3 set to 1).

size ::
       2 bytes
       the length of the fragment that follows
       valid values: 1 to 996

total length: 7 bytes

JavaDoc: http://docs.i2p-projekt.de/javadoc/net/i2p/router/tunnel/FragmentHandler.html

Notes

I2NP Message Maximum Size

While the maximum I2NP message size is nominally 64 KB, the size is further constrained by the method of fragmenting I2NP messages into multiple 1 KB tunnel messages. The maximum number of fragments is 64, and the initial fragment may not be perfectly aligned at the start of a tunnel message. So the message must nominally fit in 63 fragments.

The maximum size of an initial fragment is 956 bytes (assuming TUNNEL delivery mode); the maximum size of a follow-on fragment is 996 bytes. Therefore the maximum size is approximately 956 + (62 * 996) = 62708 bytes, or 61.2 KB.

Ordering, Batching, Packing

Tunnel messages may be dropped or reordered. The tunnel gateway, who creates tunnel messages, is free to implement any batching, mixing, or reordering strategy to fragment I2NP messages and efficiently pack fragments into tunnel messages. In general, an optimal packing is not possible (the "packing problem"). The gateways may implement various delay and reordering strategies.

Cover Traffic

Tunnel messages may contain only padding (i.e. no delivery instructions or message fragments at all) for cover traffic. This is unimplemented.