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A.1 RTP Data Header Validity Checks Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
A.1 RTP Data Header Validity Checks

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A.1 RTP Data Header Validity Checks

A.1 RTP Data Header Validity Checks

An RTP receiver should check the validity of the RTP header on incoming packets since they might be encrypted or might be from a different application that happens to be misaddressed. Similarly, if encryption is enabled, the header validity check is needed to verify that incoming packets have been correctly decrypted, although a failure of the header validity check (e.g., unknown payload type) may not necessarily indicate decryption failure.

Only weak validity checks are possible on an RTP data packet from a source that has not been heard before:

  • RTP version field must equal 2.

  • The payload type must be known, in particular it must not be equal to SR or RR.

  • If the P bit is set, then the last octet of the packet must contain a valid octet count, in particular, less than the total packet length minus the header size.

  • The X bit must be zero if the profile does not specify that the header extension mechanism may be used. Otherwise, the extension length field must be less than the total packet size minus the fixed header length and padding.

  • The length of the packet must be consistent with CC and payload type (if payloads have a known length).

The last three checks are somewhat complex and not always possible, leaving only the first two which total just a few bits. If the SSRC identifier in the packet is one that has been received before, then the packet is probably valid and checking if the sequence number is in the expected range provides further validation. If the SSRC identifier has not been seen before, then data packets carrying that identifier may be considered invalid until a small number of them arrive with consecutive sequence numbers.

The routine update_seq shown below ensures that a source is declared valid only after MIN_SEQUENTIAL packets have been received in sequence. It also validates the sequence number seq of a newly received packet and updates the sequence state for the packet's source in the structure to which s points.

When a new source is heard for the first time, that is, its SSRC identifier is not in the table (see Section 8.2), and the per-source state is allocated for it, s->probation should be set to the number of sequential packets required before declaring a source valid (parameter MIN_SEQUENTIAL ) and s->max_seq initialized to seq-1 s- >probation marks the source as not yet valid so the state may be discarded after a short timeout rather than a long one, as discussed in Section 6.2.1.

After a source is considered valid, the sequence number is considered valid if it is no more than MAX_DROPOUT ahead of s->max_seq nor more than MAX_MISORDER behind. If the new sequence number is ahead of max_seq modulo the RTP sequence number range (16 bits), but is smaller than max_seq , it has wrapped around and the (shifted) count of sequence number cycles is incremented. A value of one is returned to indicate a valid sequence number.

Otherwise, the value zero is returned to indicate that the validation failed, and the bad sequence number is stored. If the next packet received carries the next higher sequence number, it is considered the valid start of a new packet sequence presumably caused by an extended dropout or a source restart. Since multiple complete sequence number cycles may have been missed, the packet loss statistics are reset.

Typical values for the parameters are shown, based on a maximum misordering time of 2 seconds at 50 packets/second and a maximum dropout of 1 minute. The dropout parameter MAX_DROPOUT should be a small fraction of the 16-bit sequence number space to give a reasonable probability that new sequence numbers after a restart will not fall in the acceptable range for sequence numbers from before the restart.

   void init_seq(source *s, u_int16 seq)
   {
       s->base_seq = seq - 1;
       s->max_seq = seq;
       s->bad_seq = RTP_SEQ_MOD + 1;
       s->cycles = 0;
       s->received = 0;
       s->received_prior = 0;
       s->expected_prior = 0;
       /* other initialization */
   }

   int update_seq(source *s, u_int16 seq)
   {
       u_int16 udelta = seq - s->max_seq;
       const int MAX_DROPOUT = 3000;
       const int MAX_MISORDER = 100;
       const int MIN_SEQUENTIAL = 2;

       /*
        * Source is not valid until MIN_SEQUENTIAL packets with
        * sequential sequence numbers have been received.
        */
       if (s->probation) {
           /* packet is in sequence */
           if (seq == s->max_seq + 1) {
               s->probation--;
               s->max_seq = seq;
               if (s->probation == 0) {
                   init_seq(s, seq);
                   s->received++;
                   return 1;
               }
           } else {
               s->probation = MIN_SEQUENTIAL - 1;
               s->max_seq = seq;
           }
           return 0;
       } else if (udelta < MAX_DROPOUT) {
           /* in order, with permissible gap */
           if (seq < s->max_seq) {
               /*
                * Sequence number wrapped - count another 64K cycle.
                */
               s->cycles += RTP_SEQ_MOD;
           }
           s->max_seq = seq;
       } else if (udelta <= RTP_SEQ_MOD - MAX_MISORDER) {
           /* the sequence number made a very large jump */
           if (seq == s->bad_seq) {
               /*
                * Two sequential packets -- assume that the other side
                * restarted without telling us so just re-sync
                * (i.e., pretend this was the first packet).
                */
               init_seq(s, seq);
           }
           else {
               s->bad_seq = (seq + 1) & (RTP_SEQ_MOD-1);
               return 0;
           }
       } else {
           /* duplicate or reordered packet */
       }
       s->received++;
       return 1;
   }

The validity check can be made stronger requiring more than two packets in sequence. The disadvantages are that a larger number of initial packets will be discarded and that high packet loss rates could prevent validation. However, because the RTCP header validation is relatively strong, if an RTCP packet is received from a source before the data packets, the count could be adjusted so that only two packets are required in sequence. If initial data loss for a few seconds can be tolerated, an application could choose to discard all data packets from a source until a valid RTCP packet has been received from that source.

Depending on the application and encoding, algorithms may exploit additional knowledge about the payload format for further validation. For payload types where the timestamp increment is the same for all packets, the timestamp values can be predicted from the previous packet received from the same source using the sequence number difference (assuming no change in payload type).

A strong "fast-path" check is possible since with high probability the first four octets in the header of a newly received RTP data packet will be just the same as that of the previous packet from the same SSRC except that the sequence number will have increased by one. Similarly, a single-entry cache may be used for faster SSRC lookups in applications where data is typically received from one source at a time.


Next: A.2 RTCP Header Validity Checks

Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
A.1 RTP Data Header Validity Checks

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