Trusted ports

In a similar way to DHCP snooping, dynamic ARP protection allows you to configure VLAN interfaces in two categories: trusted and untrusted ports. ARP packets received on trusted ports are forwarded without validation.

By default, all ports on a switch are untrusted. If a VLAN interface is untrusted:
  • The switch intercepts all ARP requests and responses on the port.

  • Each intercepted packet is checked to see if its IP-to-MAC binding is valid. If a binding is invalid, the switch drops the packet.

Configure trusted ports carefully. For example, in the topology in the following figure, Switch B may not see the leased IP address that Host 1 receives from the DHCP server. If the port on Switch B that is connected to Switch A is untrusted and if Switch B has dynamic ARP protection enabled, it sees ARP packets from Host 1 as invalid, resulting in a loss of connectivity.

In contrast, if Switch A does not support dynamic ARP protection and you configure the port on Switch B connected to Switch A as trusted, Switch B opens itself to possible ARP poisoning from hosts attached to Switch A.

Trusted Ports for Dynamic ARP Protection
Consider the following configuration guidelines when you use dynamic ARP protection in your network:
  • Configure ports connected to other switches in the network as trusted ports. In this way, all network switches can exchange ARP packets and update their ARP caches with valid information.

  • Switches that do not support dynamic ARP protection must be separated by a router in their own Layer 2 domain. Because ARP packets do not cross Layer 3 domains, the unprotected switches cannot unknowingly accept ARP packets from an attacker and forward them to protected switches through trusted ports.