Re: [Cfrg] Adoption of draft-ladd-spake2 as a RG document

Michael Hamburg <> Mon, 15 December 2014 17:34 UTC

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From: Michael Hamburg <>
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Date: Mon, 15 Dec 2014 09:34:17 -0800
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To: Stephen Farrell <>
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Subject: Re: [Cfrg] Adoption of draft-ladd-spake2 as a RG document
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> On Dec 15, 2014, at 3:52 AM, Stephen Farrell <> wrote:
> On 15/12/14 11:16, Yoav Nir wrote:
>> But I would really like to know who needs a PAKE right now. PAKEs
>> require the server to store the cleartext password or a password
>> equivalent, creating a security issue that is potentially worse than
>> sending cleartext passwords through authenticated channels (as in
>> form-based or basic authentication to a TLS-protected server)

It is definitely a disadvantage of the SPAKE2 draft as currently written that it does not support augmentation, which would allow the server to store a non-password-equivalent token.  Perhaps this part of the feedback would best be expressed as “there should be an augmented option in the draft, such as PAKE2+”?

> +many - PAKEs are IMO cool but mostly-useless crypto for exactly
> this reason (and before others disagree, yes, I know some folks
> disagree:-) If however, CFRG folk want to work on 'em I've no
> objection but just so you all know, there is no horde of IETFers
> waiting with bated breath for more PAKE protocol options.

> There are to be fair a quite small number of sensible people who
> do figure there's a niche there to fill though (Dan H. for example
> but not sure who else), so I could of course be wrong about that.
> As I understand it, the niche Dan has in mind is for signing up
> to get a certificate in a PKI, where the password is used to
> authenticate the certificate request. Even in that case, I'm
> not convinced that PAKEs add value - esp since a one (or limited)
> time use password could be better there and requires no new
> crypto.

PAKEs are definitely a niche technology, but they are occasionally useful.  For example, they would be handy to protect WiFi, and possibly to add a layer of protection to protocols like SSH and IMAP which are often accessed with a password.

> It's also fair to say that the IETF hasn't ever done any kind of
> generic consensus call on the (lack of) value of PAKEs, and the
> IETF does have a history of adding PAKE options to protocols, (for
> some to me unfathomable reason:-) so the above is just my personal
> opinion.
> S.

— Mike