Re: [i2rs] Stephen Farrell's Abstain on draft-ietf-i2rs-protocol-security-requirements-09: (with COMMENT)

Stephen Farrell <> Sun, 21 August 2016 19:41 UTC

Return-Path: <>
Received: from localhost (localhost []) by (Postfix) with ESMTP id AAEE712D810; Sun, 21 Aug 2016 12:41:42 -0700 (PDT)
X-Virus-Scanned: amavisd-new at
X-Spam-Flag: NO
X-Spam-Score: -4.849
X-Spam-Status: No, score=-4.849 tagged_above=-999 required=5 tests=[BAYES_00=-1.9, DKIM_SIGNED=0.1, DKIM_VALID=-0.1, DKIM_VALID_AU=-0.1, RCVD_IN_DNSWL_MED=-2.3, RP_MATCHES_RCVD=-0.548, SPF_PASS=-0.001] autolearn=ham autolearn_force=no
Authentication-Results: (amavisd-new); dkim=pass (1024-bit key)
Received: from ([]) by localhost ( []) (amavisd-new, port 10024) with ESMTP id 940gwkzg8p-W; Sun, 21 Aug 2016 12:41:39 -0700 (PDT)
Received: from ( []) (using TLSv1.2 with cipher AECDH-AES256-SHA (256/256 bits)) (No client certificate requested) by (Postfix) with ESMTPS id DC04712D80E; Sun, 21 Aug 2016 12:41:38 -0700 (PDT)
Received: from localhost (localhost []) by (Postfix) with ESMTP id A9DD9BE3F; Sun, 21 Aug 2016 20:41:36 +0100 (IST)
X-Virus-Scanned: Debian amavisd-new at
Received: from ([]) by localhost ( []) (amavisd-new, port 10024) with ESMTP id l-KCAASwWGkd; Sun, 21 Aug 2016 20:41:33 +0100 (IST)
Received: from [] ( []) by (Postfix) with ESMTPSA id 23300BE35; Sun, 21 Aug 2016 20:41:33 +0100 (IST)
DKIM-Signature: v=1; a=rsa-sha256; c=relaxed/simple;; s=mail; t=1471808493; bh=3frszlsuiM5vAeGxg2gekW37yjcnMMcE/Kz4AduCY9o=; h=Subject:To:References:Cc:From:Date:In-Reply-To:From; b=c7QESkQYVQmfL7btNj9tzf4Fcny1PXVKzmPTzGJv5WKt1dZ3wBT9Ag0yoDMkhgFhv mRta4xEAXie9WyvVI96xco5QcbfQnZP755VKAj0maXLiyAD4oyKkt7IsAHsYid/DYt tGIdlGiAq8/Pbkgc/sbYCRAOQf8iALjGzWqbOSMc=
To: Susan Hares <>, The IESG <>
References: <>
From: Stephen Farrell <>
Openpgp: id=D66EA7906F0B897FB2E97D582F3C8736805F8DA2; url=
Message-ID: <>
Date: Sun, 21 Aug 2016 20:41:32 +0100
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:45.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/45.2.0
MIME-Version: 1.0
In-Reply-To: <>
Content-Type: multipart/signed; protocol="application/pkcs7-signature"; micalg=sha-256; boundary="------------ms060902050009090706060409"
Archived-At: <>
Subject: Re: [i2rs] Stephen Farrell's Abstain on draft-ietf-i2rs-protocol-security-requirements-09: (with COMMENT)
X-Mailman-Version: 2.1.17
Precedence: list
List-Id: "Interface to The Internet Routing System \(IRS\)" <>
List-Unsubscribe: <>, <>
List-Archive: <>
List-Post: <>
List-Help: <>
List-Subscribe: <>, <>
X-List-Received-Date: Sun, 21 Aug 2016 19:41:43 -0000


On 21/08/16 20:10, Susan Hares wrote:
> Stephen: Thank you for leaving your vacation early to do this review.
> It is one of the most negative viewpoint I have read from you, and
> since  have read many of your DISCUSS comments since you became an AD

Well, I've done far more negative reviews, but this one has a lot
of smaller negative comments. My guess is quite a lot of that is down
to a) it's very very hard to write protocol requirements text crisply
and accurately, and b) that kind of text is very very easily messed up
when doing iterative edits in response to reviews, and c) the writing
is really not that good in this version - to the point where the
accumulation of nits itself becomes a notable issue, and where it's
likely past time that an editorial pass was done to get that out of the

> - I think this gives me unique perspective.  This is far from the
> early comments you sent 2 weeks ago.

No. I would not have asked for a defer if I thought the only concern
was the possibility of this resulting in a hard-to-deploy set of
security mechanisms - I would have just balloted that. It is the case
that that's all I said before I had properly read the document though,
yes. And it wasn't 2 weeks ago:-)

> In developing this document and
> I2RS technology the I2RS WG and I as the I2RS chair have request
> reviews from the Security directorate.  We delayed out first
> revisions to try to address security issue by adding this document
> and the security environment document.  We have had early and late
> reviews.  Since the initial review on the I2RS architecture we have
> discussed the non-secure interface and tried to get security
> directorate's review.

I have looked back at the secdir mails on this, yes.

> I raised the pervasive privacy issue and asked
> for input in your review. 

Yes. And I responded with two would-have-been-discuss points related
to pervasive monitoring. (I assume that what's you mean when you say
"pervasive privacy" but if you mean something else above, please do

> This meta-comment is that process of asking
> for aid ahead of this point has failed according to your review, 

I think that's an odd view of IETF processes, which are never expected
to produce perfection at any stage. IMO we're iterating towards better
outcomes, not failing/succeeding at each stage of the process.

> but
> I cannot find a point where the I2RS WG did not solicit the security
> area's aid and take its advice.  Therefore,  I must ask you to check
> the process of your security directorate's reviews to find what
> happened to cause such a failure. 

Don't think of it as failure, think of it as more eyeballs finding more
things. (Or repeating things already considered, for those where that's
the case.)

> Now as to the document, I have a WG
> waiting for these requirements.  

I'd encourage you to question the above, as a first order goal. Are
the WG really waiting on these in a final, fixed-forever, form? Or
do you need a general agreement as to direction and can then make
progress? (And perhaps reduce the final requirements to RFC status
later if there's value in that, which there can be.)

As I noted a couple of times in my review, it's not possible to be
that precise about some requirements without having done more of the
design. (One of the traditional waterfalll design problems I guess.)
The scope of replay detection is probably a good example.

> I would like to hear in a completely
> separate email thread what kernel of information you would have
> expected regarding the security first an i2rs protocol.  

I don't understand your question sorry.

> I would then
> like to compare this against the security directorate's suggestions
> on this document.  We have a second document on the security
> environment so your insights will be applied to that document. Since
> in the general text you indicate the style is terrible and needs to
> be written, please provide an example of a document as an example of
> the style.  

Really? The accumulation of badly written sentences in -09 has got
to be a clear enough problem that you don't need an example of what
is not-that. So I'm puzzled at the request.

> My understanding is that style is a lower priority than
> technical correctness and consensus. 

Correct/good-enough writing is certainly secondary, up until the
issues get to a certain point that impinges on the reader's ability
to asses the meaning, and that happens a couple of times in this
document. (As I said in my review.) The other writing issues make
this a harder read than ought be the case. That doesn't reach the
level of making the document unreadable, nor nearly get that bad,
but it is enough that I wonder if other readers may have been put
off by that in reading some of the text.

> This email ends my comments on
> your summary message.  The next set of comments will take your
> discuss comments one at a time. The exact next steps that I and my
> co-author will take will be guided by the AD responsible for the I2RS
> WG, 

That's all good.

I would re-iterate though, that since my ballot is an abstain there's
no onus on you or the WG to respond in any more detail than you feel
is useful.


> Alia. Cheerily,  Sue Hares
> Sent via the Samsung Galaxy Note5, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone --------
> Original message --------From: Stephen Farrell
> <> Date: 8/21/16  8:37 AM  (GMT-05:00) To:
> The IESG <> Cc:,,
> Subject:
> [i2rs] Stephen Farrell's Abstain on 
> draft-ietf-i2rs-protocol-security-requirements-09: (with COMMENT) 
> Stephen Farrell has entered the following ballot position for 
> draft-ietf-i2rs-protocol-security-requirements-09: Abstain
> When responding, please keep the subject line intact and reply to
> all email addresses included in the To and CC lines. (Feel free to
> cut this introductory paragraph, however.)
> Please refer to
> for more
> information about IESG DISCUSS and COMMENT positions.
> The document, along with other ballot positions, can be found here: 
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> First, apologies for not getting my review done for this when it was
> scheduled due to my vacation and thanks for being willing to defer
> the document.
> Second, having now properly reviewed this, I am balloting abstain as
> I think it's unlikely that this document can be fixed in a way that
> results in something useful happening. I think that the likely 
> outcome is that this document will be used later when people are
> arguing and will not much help in resolving those arguments, or else
> this will be ignored and arguments will be held afresh, as needed.
> That latter outcome is what I'd guess is most likely and therefore it
> seems that spending all of our cycles on DISCUSS ballot processing
> for this would not be wise. That said, I am willing to change to a
> DISCUSS ballot if the responsible AD prefers that, but I suspect I'll
> end up with an abstain in any case, after some discussion. The only
> plan I can think of that'd lead to me ending up with a yes or
> no-objection ballot would be if this was returned to the WG for
> fixing and possibly major surgery, which is what I actually think
> would be the best plan. (I realise this has had a somewhat tortured 
> history, so folks may not be willing to take it back to the WG, but
> honestly, I think the failings visible in this document do indicate
> that this is not ready for approval and ought be returned to the
> WG.)
> Third, I think the overall set of requirements posed here might (with
> some unknown probability) lead to later specifications that are
> considered too hard to deploy, with the result that non-secure
> variants of I2RS become the norm. That seems like it would be a 
> really bad outcome. I would suggest that might be partly mitigated if
> a requirement were added to the effect that deployment issues and
> specifically ease of deployment MUST be considered as a first order 
> requirement when developing I2RS protocol solutions.
> Fourth, the (19!) comments below that are preceded by "(discuss"
> would have been DISCUSS ballot points had I not decided to abstain. I
> am happy to chat about any of my comments below, but if the
> authors/WG do want to chat, it might be more efficient to concentrate
> on those that would otherwise have been DISCUSS points. (But that's
> your call, I don't mind.) I think the 19 would-have-been-discuss
> points is another clue that this ought really be sent back to the
> WG.
> And with that, and with apologies for this being such an overall
> negative review, here're my detailed comments:
> - general: The writing here is generally poor, for example the opener
> is "This presents..." whereas it ought be "This document presents..."
> (or s/document/whatever you prefer/). Such issues are repeatedly seen
> and all that makes this a much harder read than ought be the case.
> I'd strongly recommend an editorial pass from someone who hasn't been
> down in the weeds with this text for a while (which could be one of 
> the authors, if one of them has been less active recently.) Note that
> this is not only (but is primarily) an editorial issue - there are
> some cases (hopefully called out below) where the writing does create
> real ambiguity that might lead to re-opening old arguments later.
> - abstract: "mutual authentication, transport protocols, data
> transfer and transactions" don't seem to me to be commensurate
> things, so the abstract, as written is very uninformative for me.
> - intro 3rd para: I'm really not sure what you're telling me about
> [I-D.ietf-i2rs-ephemeral-state].  "The draft [RFC7922]" is odd, that
> being no longer a draft. I'd have expected such nits would have been
> fixed by now TBH. Same for the last sentence.  That para makes the
> intro pretty unclear for me.
> - 2.2: The definition of higher level protocol seems like an odd
> place to introduce the fact that i2rs == netconf + restconf.  That'd
> be more usefully said in the abstract/intro if that's solidly agreed
> by the WG.
> - 2.2: This is wrong: "While it is possible to have an I2RS operation
> which is contained in multiple I2RS (E.g.  write in multiple
> messages), this is not supported in order to simplify the first
> version of I2RS." The reason this is wrong, is that it is here that
> you are defining that it is not possible to have an operation in
> multiple messages. s/it is/it could have been/ would work maybe.
> - 2.2: " *  The I2RS client issues a read request to a I2RS agent,
> and the I2RS Agent responding to the read request" Shouldn't that use
> respond and not responding? Given that you seem to be trying to
> define the scope of what is and is not a transaction, I think being
> precise with the language is something well worth doing.  The 2nd
> bullet could also do with a re-write.
> (discuss1) 2.2: you sort-of define messages, operations, transactions
> and actions. None of the definitions are that precise, e.g. are those
> the only operations or examples? And transaction and action aren't
> really defined at all. I'm not sure if that's likely to be a problem
> or not. I suspect it will later, e.g. when you get to figuring out
> the scope within which replay needs to be detectable.
> - 2.2: s/transation/transaction/
> (discuss2) - 2.2: "defines a secondary identity as the entity of some
> non-I2RS entity " That could be abused for tracking of various kinds
> I would guess, e.g. if an IMEI were used. I think you need to note
> that and should impose some requirements that such secondary 
> identifiers are not used thusly for tracking.  Also, should the first
> occurrence of entity there be identity?
> - 3, 1st para: s/The security for the/The/ - there isn't a thing
> called the security for the i2rs protocol.
> (discuss3) - section 3 says "the I2RS protocol requires mutually
> authenticated I2RS clients and I2RS agents communicating over a
> secure transport." To me that implies that something like TLS or SSH
> is MTU which seems to contradict recent emails.
> - section 3 says: "The I2RS protocol MUST be able to provide
> atomicity of an I2RS transaction, but it is not required to have
> multi-message atomicity and roll-back mechanism transactions.
> Multiple messages transactions may be impacted by the interdependency
> of data."  I don't believe that that's easily enough understood to be
> useful. Also, wouldn't s/Multiple messages 
> transactions/Multiple-message transactions/ be much clearer if that's
> what's meant? And finally, I think the MUST embedded in the above is
> not that great an idea - it's clearer IMO to separate the 2119
> language from introductory text in documents like this.
> - 3: "There are dependencies in some of the requirements below" would
> be better as "There are inter-dependencies between some of the
> requirements below" unless you mean dependencies on some external 
> things, which is not clear from the text as-is.
> (discuss4) " For confidentiality (section 3.3) and integrity (section
> 3.4) to be achieved, the client-agent must have mutual authentication
> (section 3.1) and secure transport (section 3.2).  " This is 
> incorrect. One can have confidentiality without authentication (see
> RFC7435) so the text is not accurate.
> - capitalisation needs fixing in various places, e.g. around the end
> of p5, we get "secure Transport" and then "I2RS client" and "I2RS
> Agent" in the title of 3.1 Is any of that capitalisation supposed to
> be significant? Either way, fixing it now would be good as you'll
> need to get the RFC editor to do it later if you don't (which takes
> longer).
> (discuss5) SEC-REQ-01: what is the scope of uniqueness required here?
> I see no reason why two different data centres cannot re-use a client
> or agent identifier, if they so wish. I'd be fine if you say that's
> for later decision, but being silent on the matter could lead to 
> trouble later if different folks decide differently.
> (discuss6) SEC-REQ-02: the "MUST utilize" there means MTU, which
> wasn't what you wanted I think
> (discuss7) - SEC-REQ-03: how is "upon receiving... MUST confirm" a
> good choice? As stated that'd be hugely onerous, implying e.g.  OCSP
> checks for each packet received. Same point applies to SEC-REQ-04.
> (discuss8) - SEC-REQ-05: this either means nothing at all (being a
> tautology) or else something I don't get. I think it's the former,
> but am not sure.
> - 3.1: s/One mechanism such mechanism/One such mechanism/ I guess.
> And it's not at all clear to me "AAA protocols" is the right idea
> there, and nor is it clear what's meant, with the text as-is.
> - SEC-REQ-06: where is a "priority" defined?
> - SEC-REQ-07: here you say read/write is a transaction, but earlier
> you said it was an operation, which is it?
> (discuss9) 3.2: As with others, I don't think the idea of annotating
> parts of yang modules with "can be insecure" is a good one. There's a
> separate thread discussing that though, so maybe better to not fork 
> that.
> (discuss10) - SEC-REQ-O9: I hate to do this to ya, but BCP107 is IMO
> a fairly clear failure when it comes to routing. And yet again the
> exceptions clauses here are so broad as to be meaningless (e.g.
> considered low value by whom?). What is the real goal here? (other 
> than an attempt to keep the sec ADs from being annoying and trying to
> insist on BCP107? ;-)
> (discuss11) - SEC-REQ-09: Separately, to my other would-be-discuss
> point on this requirement, "can guarantee" is well beyond the state
> of the art in key management. I'd just drop that sentence maybe, but 
> can't make a concrete suggestion until I understand where you want to
> be wrt BCP107.
> - SEC-REQ-10: the last sentence here is also involved in the "may do
> stuff insecurely" thing, and so will likely need fixing when that is
> fully resolved.
> - How is SEC-REQ-11 useful? What protocol artefacts do you have in
> mind here? Perhaps a requirement that DDoS attacks be specifically
> considered in I2RS would be more useful.
> - SEC-REQ-12: This seems to me to have too many words, e.g. the
> current text could be read to imply that outside of critical
> infrastructure there is less or no need for confidentiality, so those
> added words (presumably there to motivate) might be 
> counter-productive.
> (discuss12) SEC-REQ-12: I don't get the meaning of the SHOULD here -
> combined with "certain data" that SHOULD seems to end up meaning MAY,
> as in, it seems to mean the same as "Read/write operations MAY have
> to be protected using a confidentiality service."
> - 3.4, bullet (2) here means that we're not talking about data
> integrity but data origin authentication as well.
> (discuss13) 3.4, (3): Within what scope must replay be detected? The
> text implies for ever, which can be very onerous. SEC-REQ-14 doesn't
> quite go so far, but is ambiguous on this aspect. I'd say best is to
> note that the scope within which replay needs to be detectable is for
> future study.
> (discuss14) SEC-REQ-15: Sorry, I don't understand what's required
> here (having read this >1 time). Can you explain?  I'm not sure if
> any substantive change is needed, but there are certainly editorial
> changes needed for sure as there are multiple wording problems with
> the text as-is.
> - 3.5, 1st para: the text here is not as good as the actual
> definition of "role" in RFC7921, and in fact I found the text here
> confusing. Better to just delete that and say that 7921 defines
> roles.
> (discuss15) SEC-REQ-16: I don't see any content in this text as it
> seems to just say "some role based access control and some level of
> transport protection need to be provided" which is always true, as
> you are allowing "no transport security" and (I assume) "fully
> public access" so any protocol/system will always meet this 
> requirement.
> - SEC-REQ-16: "privacy requirements" here is wrong, you mean
> confidentiality I think.
> (discuss16) SEC-REQ-17: "MUST work" is far too vague. That could for
> example hide a major debate about push v. pull of role information.
> If the WG haven't considered that, I think you could ack that again
> by saying that more work is needed to define how RBAC is consistent
> across multiple transport layer connections.
> (discuss17) SEC-REQ-18: again this seems to have no content, other
> than perhaps imposing an odd requirement on implementations - I don't
> see a protocol requirement here at all. It is reasonable to note that
> libraries for clients ought not assume a single client identity but
> even that's very specific to library implementations and since it's
> just a MAY that's entirely obvious, I'd leave it out.
> (discuss18) SEC-REQ-19: I fully agree with the motivation here but I
> think the stated requirement is broken.  For example, I don't know
> how a piece of s/w will determine whether or not it is correlated
> with a person. I also don't think a SHOULD works here, as again
> something would need to be stated about the situations when the
> feature is not needed, and I can't figure out a sensible statement
> for that. The last sentence also seems likely not useful. All in all,
> I think this is likely to be ignored or even worse treated like a
> piece of fig-leaf specification text to pretend that we're caring
> about privacy.
> (discuss19) - 3.6: I have no idea whether this other draft is
> supposed to be considered as setting requirements or not. I assume
> that the answer is "not" as you've made it an informative reference,
> but in that case you really should say that.  The alternative would 
> be that 3.6 is essentially specifying an applicability statement for
> the environments in which it is, and is not, ok to run i2rs. If the
> latter were intended, then you'd need to say it and make the draft a
> normative reference.
> _______________________________________________ i2rs mailing list