Re: Security for various IETF services

Stephen Farrell <stephen.farrell@cs.tcd.ie> Sun, 06 April 2014 15:52 UTC

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Date: Sun, 06 Apr 2014 16:52:18 +0100
From: Stephen Farrell <stephen.farrell@cs.tcd.ie>
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Subject: Re: Security for various IETF services
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As others have said, I think the questions posed have been
answered pretty much. I also got some good offlist wording
suggestions, the result of which is:

   "The IETF is committed to providing secure and private
   access to information via the web, mail, jabber and
   other services. While most data on IETF services is
   public, individual accesses to that data should be
   kept private to the extent possible.  However, as
   there are numerous existing tools that have been built
   that require access via cleartext, the IETF will
   continue to allow such access so as not to break such
   tooling. New services will however generally only be
   made available in ways that use security protocols
   such as TLS."

And just adding some stuff that's not been said before...

I agree that IETF services aren't the most sensitive in the
world, but think we all nonetheless win if we up the ante for
attackers of whatever kind when we reasonably can.

There is a value in not making cleartext versions of services
available though - I've personally seen a number of cases where
http:// URLs were sent via mail with instructions to login at
that URL using e.g. a datatracker or tools login. Yes, that ought
not happen (https:// URLs should be sent), but it does happen
and will so long as the http:// URLs work, and it'd be naive of
us to assume that everyone sending out such mails would be aware
that doing so isn't a good plan.

Using e.g. TLS for confidentiality also helps counter attacks
where cleartext HTTP cookies etc. are being used for monitoring
which has been shown to be the case. [1] IMO that's already a
good enough reason to turn on TLS or equivalent as much as
possible since most services will expose some similar
fingerprint when run in clear.

For those who expressed a wish for data origin authentication
over and above TLS server auth, that is already in place for
I-Ds. [2]

A couple of people expressed concern that this was a bit of a
"blanket statement," while that is true, the statement is not
absolutist, e.g. it says "generally" in the last sentence
which I think is about right.

A number of people made mechanism-specific points which were
mostly reasonable but of course we shouldn't put those in
this proposed iesg statement. One person said that e.g. this
statement should not be used to require client authentication
which is of course correct.

Someone mentioned having an IETF privacy policy for services
which sounds like a fine thing to me, and which is something
that I think Alissa has done a bit of work on in the past and
the IESG has chatted about resurrecting that. That is trickier
to get right though, and more work to get agreed, so not sure
if it'll happen.

Lastly, I'm heartbroken that Lloyd has sussed out my formerly
secret plan to try to take over the world;-) Ah well, I'll
just have to try again tomorrow.

S.

[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-25333663
[2] https://www.ietf.org/id-info/idsignatures.html


On 04/03/2014 05:21 PM, Stephen Farrell wrote:
> 
> Hi all,
> 
>>From time to time the issue of how to secure IETF services
> comes up e.g. whether to turn on TLS for some IETF web server
> or jabber or mail etc.
> 
> The most recent such was a request to turn on HSTS [1] for
> the IETF web site, which I don't think we can do without
> breaking old tools etc. Nonetheless we would like to turn
> on things like TLS more often going forward as seemed to
> me to be the outcome of a long thread on here late last
> year.
> 
> So, the IESG are considering the following as an IESG
> statement to offer some guidance about this:
> 
> "The IETF are committed to providing secure and privacy
> friendly access to information via the web, mail, jabber
> and other services. While most (but not all) data on IETF
> services is public, nonetheless access to that data
> should use best practices for security and privacy.
> However, as there are numerous legacy tools that have been
> built that require access via cleartext, the IETF will
> continue to allow such access so as not to break such
> tooling. New services will however generally only be made
> available in ways that use security protocols such as
> TLS."
> 
> If you have wordsmithing changes to suggest please just send
> those to me or the iesg. More substantive comments should go
> here I guess. I hope the only bit worth discussing (except
> for the few folks who would rather we do none of this;-)
> might be the last sentence.
> 
> A few weeks after any discussion here dies down I'll put the
> resulting text on an IESG telechat for approval if that seems
> like the right thing to do.
> 
> Thanks,
> S
> 
> [1] https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc6797
> 
> 
> 
>